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Defense Locks Down

Posted Oct 18, 2009

Notebook: Seahawks held to 128 yards; Rackers' pooch kick swings game

Cardinals defensive end Calais Campbell sacks Matt Hasselbeck during Sunday's 27-3 win.
 
 
SEATTLE – The defense waited patiently on the sideline waiting for its turn, knowing it would eventually come but perfectly happy to delay the inevitable.

The offense sparked what turned into a 27-3 Cardinals’ win over the Seahawks on the road Sunday with a nearly 11-minute opening touchdown drive, and followed up by recovering an onside kick and scoring again – not that the defense was about to complain.

“It was beautiful,” linebacker Chike Okeafor said. “I don’t think ever in my illustrious, long career I have ever stepped foot on the field for the first time with only three minutes left in the first quarter.”

Three plays into their day, Clark Haggans and Calais Campbell sacked Seahawks quarterback Matt Hasselbeck for a fumble the Cards recovered. It was the launching point to a defensive day that was as dominating as the Cardinals have had in a while.

The NFL’s top-ranked run defense gave up just 14 yards on 11 carries. The pass rush which had gone through a dry spell – no sacks the previous two games – buried Hasselbeck five times total. The pass defense, ranked last in the NFL, gave up just 114 yards, and that included a 42-yard pass on a fake punt. The Seahawks went 0-for-11 on third downs.

“We said, ‘The offense is doing a great job. Let’s feed off if it,’ ” defensive end Darnell Dockett said.

Most importantly, the group didn’t let the Seahawks ever have any life, which was a sticking point in the two previous wins over Jacksonville and Houston. Those teams put up some statistics in the second half of games that looked like blowouts.

The Seahawks have been decimated with offensive line injuries, but the Cardinals didn’t care. They also didn’t care to celebrate their play too much. Safety Adrian Wilson insisted it still wasn’t a complete performance (it’s difficult to see where the issues could have been) and there will be a stout test in a week against the Giants.

“(The defense) is getting there,” nose tackle Gabe Watson said. “But we can’t get too cocky.”

RACKERS’ POOCH

Having just scored after a 15-play drive to open the game, Whisenhunt walked up to kicker Neil Rackers and said, “I wish we could go ‘Mortar,’ ” suggesting the pooch kickoff Rackers often practices to drop in past the first wave of kick-return blockers – like a mortar shell – to either scuttle a return or make for an elongated onside kick.

Rackers didn’t take long to answer. “Why don’t we?”

So Whisenhunt called for the pooch, executed perfectly. Rookie cornerback Greg Toler ended up covering the free ball – he would have had it clean, but it briefly rolled away from him when he first got to it, forcing an under-the-pile fight – and the Cards were on their way to building a 14-0 lead.

“If you stomp on them quick, it’s hard for them to come back,” Rackers said.

Whisenhunt said the Cardinals didn’t want to kick it to Seattle return man Justin Forsett. Recovering the ball was just a bonus.

 “I don’t consider it a risk at all,” Whisenhunt said. “I’ve said this before, Neil is a weapon with some of those things.”

ANQUAN’S ANKLE

The only reported injury was the right ankle sprain of wide receiver Anquan Boldin. Boldin, who had six catches for 54 yards, initially came back in and played after getting hurt but then was removed from the game for good when the Cards stretched their lead.

Whisenhunt said he’d know more Monday, but emphasized he wanted to take Boldin out for precautionary reasons – he wants him available to play against the Giants on “Sunday Night Football” next weekend – and that Boldin could have played if needed.

WARNER TIES MARINO

Warner tied Dan Marino’s record for fastest players to pass for 30,000 yards when he reached the milestone Sunday, his 114th career game. Peyton Manning needed one more game – 115 – to get to 30,000 yards.
 
 
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