GLENDALE, Ariz. -- The last time the Seattle Seahawks played a game at University of Phoenix Stadium, it ended in heartbreak and controversy, as a late interception at the goal line ruined their chance of winning Super Bowl XLIX and capturing their second straight championship.
In a game that meant next to nothing for the Seahawks on Sunday, they derailed the hottest team in the NFC with a 36-6 thrashing of the Arizona Cardinals, avoiding a sweep by the Cardinals and handing Arizona its first loss in 10 games.
Seattle (10-6) will open the playoffs with a wild-card visit to Minnesota next weekend. The Cardinals (13-3) have a first-round bye and will open the divisional round of the playoff at home in two more weeks.
"I am grateful for the focus that we play with," Seahawks safety Earl Thomas said. "I am thankful for everybody putting in their dues during the week of our preparation. It is paying off."
Cardinals coach Bruce Arians said his team lost the game because of poor practice and preparation.
"This was a valuable lesson today," he said. "You could see it coming all week. I think coaches, players, everybody fell into that press thing and anointed us Super Bowl champs. This was a nice wakeup call. We got beat in every phase of the game."
3 things we learned about the Seahawks:
1. The offensive line might not be as big of a concern as some around the team thought. A week after Russell Wilson was sacked four times and hit 13 times overall in a loss at home to the Rams, Wilson was sacked just once by the Cardinals and touched just five times. "They did a great job today," Wilson said of his linemen.
2. A convincing win on the road like Sunday's 36-6 blowout of the Cardinals should give the Seahawks added confidence as they stay on the road for their wild-card game next weekend. "It's good, but you can't take it for granted," defensive end Cliff Avril said. "You think just because we have been playing good all season long on the road that it's going to happen. But you have to play new teams and you have to continue growing as a player."
3. Cornerback Richard Sherman used to have a war of the words with Cardinals contemporary Patrick Peterson. Now, it appears his biggest nemesis on the Cardinals is second-year receiver John Brown. "You hear these guys talk sometimes and you never forget anything," Sherman said. "This offseason I think the kid Brown said I couldn't guard him one on one. Laughable, you know what I mean? Things like that are laughable. But then I say this in a press conference and I'm a bad guy. But you can find the article. He said I couldn't guard him. That's the kind of disrespect you make sure they remember."
--QB Russell Wilson, on becoming the first Seahawks quarterback to pass for 4,000 yards: "It's obviously a good thing. I think it's a constant progression. Every year I just want to get better. Every year, that's my mission. But the ultimate mission is to win and we've been playing winning football."
--PR Tyler Lockett set a franchise record with four punt returns for a 139 yards -- and he did all of that in the first half. "I think he's Rookie of the Year," quarterback Russell Wilson said. "There are some other guys, but you watch Tyler and the different things that he can do. The explosiveness in the passing game. He's great on third down. He made some big time red-zone catches and big-time catches for us. The punt returns. The kick returns. You think about what a special player he is. He's one of a kind. I think he deserve it. That's just my opinion."
--SS Kam Chancellor, LT Russell Okung, RG J.R. Sweezy and Luke Wilson should all be back in time for next weekend's wild-card game, according to coach Pete Carroll. "That will be a nice boost," Carroll said.