The powerhouse back gained 173 yards in 23 carries, including touchdown runs of 88 and 14 yards, and the Seattle Seahawks won their fourth in a row by beating the Arizona Cardinals 33-19.
“The run he popped in the second half obviously was a big, big, important play in this game,” Seahawks coach Mike Holmgren said. “He’s having his best season as far as I’m concerned.”
Alexander went to the locker room late in the second quarter with a stomach ache, then quickly showed he felt much better in the second half.
The 88-yard run, on the first play of the third quarter, tied the franchise record Alexander set against Oakland on Nov. 11, 2001. In the last three games against Arizona, Alexander gained 467 yards and scored nine touchdowns.
“I think right now he’s playing like the best back in the National Football League,” Cardinals coach Dennis Green said. “I don’t think it’s just the yardage. He also can catch the ball. He does a decent job of pass protection, and he makes big plays.”
The victory gave the Seahawks a season sweep of Arizona and improved their record to 6-2, tied with New York, Carolina and Atlanta for the best record in the conference halfway through the season. It came after Holmgren unexpectedly gave the team an entire week off leading into last Sunday’s bye. He won for the first time after a bye week in seven tries.
“They needed the week off,” Holmgren said. “They were a little banged up and sore, so why not? I needed some time off, too. So we did it.”
Neil Rackers kicked field goals of 23, 31, 50 and 44 for the Cardinals (2-6) and is 26-for-26 this season.
Kurt Warner, replacing Josh McCown as starting quarterback, completed 29 of 48 passes for 334 yards and a touchdown. He threw three interceptions and was sacked four times. Warner, booed loudly by the crowd, fell to 0-4 as an Arizona starter, with two touchdowns in 16 quarters.
“All across the board again we just made too many mistakes,” Warner said, “just doing the simple things. We’ve got to do a better job on the simple things.”
Green, 8-16 in 1 1/2 seasons as Arizona coach, hinted at another shakeup that could include the quarterback spot.
“I think when you’re on a 2-6 year, you know you’re in territory you’re not accustomed to, nor do you like being in,” he said. “There’s no telling what you’ll do.”
He gave Warner a mixed review.
“Obviously he made some good throws, made some poor throws, got rid of the ball sometimes when he could, held the ball when he shouldn’t,” Green said.
Matt Hasselbeck, picked off four times in a 25-17 loss at Sun Devil Stadium a year ago, was 13-for-20 for 158 yards. He passed for a touchdown, ran for another and was not intercepted.
Seattle pulled out of reach with a 12-play, 93-yard drive that used up 6:50 of the fourth quarter. Alexander’s 14-yard run capped the drive to give Seattle its 33-19 lead.
“You know, we’ve had several long over-80 yard drives and that’s just what we expect now,” Alexander said. “Then, once we get in the red zone, it’s do what we do, and that’s score touchdowns. It was one of those drives we expect out of ourselves. I think that’s a big difference between this year and the last five years.”
Trufant intercepted Warner’s pass to give Seattle the ball at Cardinals 48. Alexander had runs of 19 and 10 yards to set up Hasselbeck’s 4-yard touchdown pass to Joe Jurevicius and Seattle led 10-3.
After Rackers’ 31-yard field goal cut it to 10-6, the Seahawks scored late in the half. Hasselbeck threw a 46-yard sideline pass to Jerheme Urban to the Cardinals 13. Hasselbeck ran 1 yard for the score with 43 seconds left in the half.
Warner finally got Arizona into the end zone on a 14-play, 80-yard drive. He threw 6 yards to Johnson in the back of the end zone with 35 seconds to go in the third quarter.
Warner’s 63-yard pass to tight end Eric Edwards set up Rackers’ fourth field goal, a 44-yarder that made it 27-19.
Arizona has three touchdowns in 21 times in the red zone. … Cardinals Pro Bowl defensive end Bertrand Berry left the game in the fourth quarter with a strained pectoral muscle. … Alexander has scored 14 touchdowns.