Four of a kind is winner for Seahawks
SEATTLE — For months, Matt Hasselbeck wondered when his sputtering, injured Seahawks would start playing like their old selves again.
"I knew it would happen, I was just hoping it would happen in time," he said.
It did, with three weeks to spare.
Hasselbeck threw four touchdown passes — the most of his soaring season — and Seattle clinched its fourth consecutive NFC West title with an emphatic 42-21 victory over Arizona on Sunday, ending the Cardinals' quest for their first division title since 1975.
The Seahawks (9-4) stormed to a 24-0 lead midway through the second quarter, intercepted Kurt Warner five times and sacked him five times while cruising to their fifth consecutive victory. It's their longest streak since a team-record 11-game run two seasons ago that helped them reach their first Super Bowl.
This current streak has come since coach Mike Holmgren declared he was ditching most of a stalled running game and relying on Hasselbeck's passing.
"He is doing everything I have asked him to do — and probably a little more," Holmgren said.
Moments earlier, team owner Paul Allen gathered all in the locker room and presented Holmgren with the game ball for passing Chuck Knox with his team-record 84th victory as Seahawks coach.
Shaun Alexander had 38 yards on 10 carries and is becoming almost irrelevant in Seattle's offense with the way Hasselbeck is playing
Hasselbeck, who threw three touchdowns in a runaway first half, was 22-of-33 for 272 yards and no interceptions to stay on pace for team records in attempts, completions and yards.
Arizona was left watching a shouting match between Darnell Dockett and Darryl Blackstock in the locker room. Before that, it watched a career-high in interceptions from a rattled Warner.
"This is as big a game as we've had around here in a while," Warner said. "And (I'm) just disappointed that I cost my team the win today."
The interceptions by Warner, who was 28-of-46 with three inconsequential touchdowns, killed what little momentum Arizona mustered. Marcus Trufant had the last three picks. He returned his second one 84 yards for a touchdown with 5:29 left.
Arizona made it 27-14 in the final minute of the third quarter on Warner's 2-yard touchdown pass to Jerheme Urban.
Arizona's frustration peaked on Seattle's ensuing drive. A third-down incompletion would have forced a field goal, but Dockett, a defensive tackle, and Seahawks center Chris Spencer threw each other to the turf and took referee Tony Corrente with them. Corrente had an up-close look at Dockett ripping off Spencer's helmet in the scrum and called a 15-yard penalty.
Seattle turned that gift first down into Hasselbeck's fourth scoring pass, a 4-yarder to Marcus Pollard, and a 34-14 lead.