Another huge game for ex-UNI Panther Johnson
SEATTLE — Former Northern Iowa standout David Johnson earned all the yards he gained on the ground Saturday.
The Seattle Seahawks were determined to keep Johnson from taking over the game running the ball. No matter how much they tried, Seattle couldn’t completely stop Arizona’s star running back.
“There is nothing else to be said about that kid,” Arizona quarterback Carson Palmer said. “Every adjective used to describe him is spot on. There is not one that is a reach, he’s spectacular.”
Johnson continued to rewrite the Arizona record book with three touchdowns in the Cardinals’ 34-31 win over the Seahawks. Arizona won in Seattle for the third time in the past four years and Johnson was the biggest reason why.
The Arizona workhorse scored on a pair of 1-yard touchdown runs and added a 2-yard run to give him an NFL-leading 20 total touchdowns for the season. He set franchise records for rushing (16) and total touchdowns (20), bettering marks held by John David Crow since 1962. Johnson now has 33 touchdowns in 31 regular-season games.
But while the touchdowns were important, it was his two receptions on Arizona’s final drive that were crucial. After Seattle pulled even at 31-31 on Paul Richardson’s 5-yard TD catch with 1:06 remaining, the Cardinals went 50 yards to set up Chandler Catanzaro’s winning 43-yard field goal on the final play.
Johnson was responsible for 42 of those yards. He had a 13-yard catch over the middle to get Arizona an early first down. He followed with a 29-yard catch down the sideline on a perfectly thrown ball by Palmer, beating Seattle safety Kam Chancellor. The catch got the Cardinals into field-goal range, and after an 8-yard reception by Larry Fitzgerald, the Cardinals rushed out their field goal unit.
Catanzaro’s kick was true.
“We were looking to see if it was a linebacker or Kam Chancellor guarding me,” Johnson said. “I was going to try to get open on a go route. And Carson saw that he overplayed a little bit and I noticed it, too, (Chancellor) just turned and ran. Carson threw a great ball and I was able to catch it.”
Arizona coach Bruce Arians said he was surprised they got that matchup with Chancellor on Johnson. Seattle coach Pete Carroll could only compliment the execution of the play.
“It was a really good play by a really good quarterback and a really good player. That’s a nice throw and catch there because Kam was right on the guy,” Carroll said.
For most of the day it looked like Johnson would struggle to continue his string of at least 100 yards from scrimmage, a streak that started with the opener. He was held to 95 yards rushing, and only once was able to completely break free of Seattle’s defenders, when he cut back for a 33-yard run in the fourth quarter that helped set up the third of his touchdowns.
But the streak continued thanks to the two receptions on the final drive. It’s the longest streak of at least 100 yards from scrimmage to start a season in league history. Johnson became the first player with 2,000 yards from scrimmage and 20 total touchdowns in the same season since LaDainian Tomlinson in 2006.
Earlier in the week, Seattle linebacker K.J. Wright said he believed Johnson should be the league’s offensive player of the year. Johnson now has 1,233 yards rushing and 841 yards receiving. Johnson needs 159 yards receiving in the season finale against Los Angeles to be the third player ever to have 1,000 yards rushing and 1,000 yards receiving in the same season.
“It does really mean a lot,” Johnson said of the records. “All the success is due to, tribute to, the guys up front and Carson believing in me and throwing me the ball or (Arians) putting me in those situations where I could help out the team.”