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A Long Way Since The Opener

Posted Dec 8, 2012

Rematch with Seahawks comes down with September game a distant memory

Linebacker Daryl Washington (58) and the Cardinals' defense will keep a close eye on Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson Sunday.

SEATTLE -- A lot has happened since the Cardinals last played the Seattle Seahawks.

The president was re-elected. Winter coats were dusted off. And the Cardinals fell into a losing streak.

The momentum from a late-game defensive stop at the 4-yard line against the Seahawks in Week 1 at University of Phoenix Stadium continued for the first four weeks, propelling the Cardinals atop the NFL’s best storylines during their 4-0 start. But that momentum has slowly come to a halt.

“It seems like a long time ago but honestly I think we’ve grown as a team,” guard Adam Snyder said. “It doesn’t show in the overall record of this team but you couldn’t ask for a better group of guys to be with and I just think, unfortunately, we haven’t won as many games as we want to. But the character in this room, that’s going to carry us a long way.”

After that win, the season was looking up. The defense, which developed into a Top-10 unit, showed an early glimpse of its prowess and, although he didn’t start the opener, Kevin Kolb established himself as a late-game quarterback when he led the Cardinals to a 20-16 win.

But heading into Week 14, Kolb is questionable for another week, nursing a rib injury he suffered against the Bills. The lineup is vastly different than the opening weekend of the season because of injuries. And search for a win is spreading around every nook in the locker room. But the Cardinals are still facing the same questions, internally and externally: Who starts at quarterback? And how do you stop Seattle’s rookie quarterback Russell Wilson?

The first answer is John Skelton, who started against Seattle in September and was given the nod by coach Ken Whisenhunt for Sunday. And stopping Wilson now is similar to how the Cardinals’ slowed him down in his NFL debut.

“They don’t do a whole lot different from what they did,” Whisenhunt said. “They’re playing good football. They’re a highly-ranked defense. There’s no reason to change. They might tweak a couple of things and offensively, they’re doing a lot of the same things.”

For as much that has changed, as much hasn’t.

Wilson is still using his feet to make plays, an option the Cardinals kept in check last meeting, holding the rookie to just 20 yards on the ground.

“He’s trusted more and he just makes so many plays that a less mobile quarterback wouldn’t be able to make,” defensive coordinator Ray Horton said. “If you didn’t know he was a rookie, you wouldn’t think he was.”

Whisenhunt and Horton said the Seahawks’ offense hasn’t evolved enough since the beginning of the season to warrant a major renovation of the defensive game plan. It’s changed so little that Whisenhunt said he could watch their first meeting and “get a lot of information from it.”

But that game was in the comfortable confines of University of Phoenix Stadium. Sunday’s game won’t be so friendly.

The Cardinals have lost their last two in Seattle, but receiver Larry Fitzgerald believes this could be the week the Cards’ skid comes to a halting stop.

“Playing in Seattle is hands down the toughest place I’ve ever played in – professionally, college, anywhere,” Fitzgerald said. “It’s the loudest and most difficult. We’re going to have a tall task in front of us. I really believe as desperate as we are, we’re going to come out fighting. We got to find a way to get a W.”


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