Arizona patiently waits for return on Kolb investment

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Arizona patiently waits for return on Kolb investment

SANTA CLARA -- Kevin Kolb's name came up a lot in offseason speculation for three NFC West teams.The St. Louis Rams' quarterback situation was set with Sam Bradford, but the 49ers, Arizona Cardinals and Seattle Seahawks were viewed by many as logical landing spots for Kolb.As it turned out, the Cardinals wanted him badly, and acquired Kolb from the Philadelphia Eagles shortly after the lockout lifted.After losing six games in a row with Kolb at the controls, the Cardinals are on a two-game win streak . . . with second-year player John Skelton as the quarterback. And Skelton will likely be at quarterback when the Cardinals visit the 49ers on Sunday.

Kolb has missed the past two games with a toe injury, and has not been cleared to practice, Cardinals coach Ken Whisenhunt said Wednesday in a conference call with Bay Area reporters. So Whisenhunt wanted no part in discussing the possibility Skelton might be the better option even when Kolb is healthy."Kevin hasn't been cleared to play, and he's only limited in practice. So there's no point, really, to even talk about this," Whisenhunt said. "I understand the interest and all the questions, but John has done exactly what we asked him to do, which was come in and play. Until we have a situation where we face that, there's no point in talking about that."The Cardinals acquired Kolb in a trade from the Eagles for cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and a second-round draft pick. Arizona then awarded Kolb a five-year, 63 million extension. So the organization has invested heavily in Kolb.
"The intention of getting Kevin was for our future going forward, so we could grow as a group with a young guy that we felt could play the position," Whisenhunt said. "And that's still the intent. I think it's very difficult when you don't have an offseason. You're in a new offense. You're asking him to do things that he hasn't done for you before. When you get only six weeks of preparation and preseason and putting him in where the real bullets fly, it's difficult."With the challenges that teams faced with the compressed offseason, Whisenhunt was asked if it was even more impressive what the 49ers (8-1) have accomplished this season with quarterback Alex Smith learning the new offense Jim Harbaugh brought with him."That's a fair statement," Whisenhunt said. "They're an impressive football team. I think they've had a number of guys who have been there together working for a couple years. I know it seems like we've seen a lot of those guys the last couple of years."Kudos to Alex. I think they're a very talented bunch, and they're well-coached. I think Coach Harbaugh has done a great job with those guys."

Cam Newton benched to start game vs Seahawks for breaking dress code

Cam Newton benched to start game vs Seahawks for breaking dress code

SEATTLE — A missing necktie led to Carolina quarterback Cam Newton getting benched for one series on Sunday night.

Ron Rivera didn't expect it to last just one play.

Carolina's miserable night was capped by a 40-7 loss to Seattle following the most awkward of starts. With Newton being punished for not having a necktie for the team flight to Seattle, the Panthers' starting QB watched backup Derek Anderson throw an interception on the first play of the game.

The turnover only led to a field goal for Seattle, but it was the start of an otherwise forgettable performance by the Panthers that provided another blow to the dwindling playoff hopes of the reigning NFC champions.

Newton missed just one play, but was also just 14-of-32 passing for 182 yards and one touchdown. After pulling within 10-7 in the second quarter, Carolina let Seattle score the final 30 points.

Seahawks lose Thomas, but run all over Panthers in Seattle

Seahawks lose Thomas, but run all over Panthers in Seattle

BOX SCORE

SEATTLE -- Thomas Rawls ran for 103 yards and two touchdowns in the first half, Tyler Lockett took a reverse 75 yards for a score to open the second half and the Seattle Seahawks routed the Carolina Panthers 40-7 on Sunday night.

Another prime-time game in Seattle was clouded with odd story lines right from the outset when Carolina quarterback Cam Newton was benched for the first play, only to watch backup Derek Anderson throw an interception . It was the start of miserable night for Carolina (4-8) and a laugher that moved Seattle (8-3-1) one step closer to the NFC West title.

Rawls and the run game set the tone for Seattle, gashing the second-best run defense in the NFL for 240 yards. Carolina entered the week giving up less than 80 yards per game on the ground.

Rawls finished with 106 yards on 15 carries, quiet in the second half after briefly being checked for a concussion. He was just the second 100-yard rusher for a run game that has lagged most of the season. Rawls' 8-yard run gave Seattle an early 10-0 lead and his 45-yard sprint early in the second quarter pushed it to 17-7.

Russell Wilson was 26 of 36 for 277 yards and a 1-yard scoring pass to Jimmy Graham in the fourth quarter. The Seahawks rolled up a season-high 534 yards and kept a three-game lead over Arizona in the division with four remaining.

Seattle safety Earl Thomas broke a bone in his lower left leg during a first-half collision with teammate Kam Chancellor while trying to intercept Newton's pass. Thomas hobbled off the field putting no weight on the leg and X-rays revealed a "cracked tibia," coach Pete Carroll told Seattle's radio broadcast.

On the play after Thomas' injury, Newton hit Ted Ginn Jr. on a 55-yard touchdown pass to pull the Panthers to 10-7. It would be the only highlight for Carolina.

Rawls immediately answered, darting through the Carolina defense for the 45-yard touchdown run and a 17-7 lead. Steven Hauschka added two more field goals before halftime and Lockett raced 75 yards on a reverse on the first play of the second half. In less than 10 minutes of game time, Seattle extended the lead to 30-7.

Newton's benching was for a dress code violation, according to the NBC broadcast and the single play he missed could not have gone worse. Anderson rolled out to throw a pass to Mike Tolbert. It bounced off Tolbert's hands and into the arms of Mike Morgan, a disastrous result for that only added to questions about coach Ron Rivera's intention with the punishment.

Newton finished 14 of 32 for 182 yards.

LOPSIDED RESULT

It was seventh meeting in the past five years between the Seahawks and Panthers, playoffs included. It was the first time of the seven the game was decided by more than 14 points. Five of the previous six were decided by seven points or less. The biggest win during the stretch was Seattle's 31-17 win in the 2014 playoffs.

BATTERED PANTHERS

Carolina's injury list grew again.

The Panthers were already without starters Kurt Coleman and Luke Kuechly (concussions), and defensive end Mario Addison (foot) on defense, and right tackle Daryl Williams (ankle) on offense. Carolina then lost cornerback Daryl Worley and linebacker David Mayo to concussions against the Seahawks.

THOMAS TWEETS

One of the most emotional players on Seattle's roster, Thomas hinted at retirement in a tweet sent just before halftime.

"This game has been so good to me no regrets. A lot is running through my mind including retirement thanks for all the prayers," Thomas tweeted from the Seattle locker room.

Thomas missed the first game of his career last week at Tampa Bay due to a hamstring injury.

UP NEXT

Panthers: Carolina returns home and hosts San Diego.

Seahawks: Seattle travels to Green Bay.