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Cardinals Adopting Smash Mouth Mentality

Posted Nov 8, 2017

Team expects another slugfest against Seahawks on "Thursday Night Football"

The Cardinals will look to once again bottle up the Seahawks offense.

In 1994, the rock band Smash Mouth debuted in San Jose, California.

No one paid much attention to it at first, but eventually, the group exploded onto the national stage with hits like “Walkin’ on the Sun” and “All Star.”

Twenty-three years later, the Cardinals have embraced the literal meaning of that band’s name, intent on wearing down their opponents with a physical brand of football. It worked to perfection in Sunday’s 20-10 win over the 49ers, as Adrian Peterson carried the ball a career-high 37 times for 159 yards and the defense overpowered San Francisco.

The Cardinals are back at it only four days later in a “Thursday Night Football” tilt against the Seahawks, and if they can win this game on a national platform of their own, there’s another Smash Mouth tune that will pervade fans’ heads: “I’m a Believer.”

The Cardinals were counted out by many when quarterback Carson Palmer broke his arm in Week 7, but would move ahead of the Seahawks for second place in the NFC West with a win, by virtue of identical 5-4 records and the head-to-head tiebreaker. As memories of last year’s 6-6 tie emanate, the teams are preparing for a slugfest.

“Every time we play, it’s usually a knock-down, drag-out,” coach Bruce Arians said. “I would anticipate the same thing.”

[READ: OF FITZ AND FANS, WEDNESDAY BEFORE THE SEAHAWKS]

All eyes will be on Peterson to see if he can churn out the yards against a tough Seahawks defense. He is averaging 104.7 yards per game and 4.2 yards per carry in three contests with the Cardinals, but knows it could be tough sledding against a formidable foe.

“You’ve just got to keep pounding,” Peterson said. “Pounding, pounding away. Keep chipping. Chipping for three, four, five, seven (yards). Don’t look for the home runs. They’ll come. Just take what they give you and the big ones will come. Famine, famine, feast.”

Peterson ran hard against the 49ers and quarterback Drew Stanton pitched in with a solid performance in his first start, finishing 15-of-30 for 201 yards with two touchdowns and an interception. If the running game clicks and Stanton takes care of the ball, there is an avenue to a victory.

The Seahawks will do their best to lay waste to those plans. They are tied for fifth in the NFL in points allowed at 18.6 per game behind the usual cast of characters: Richard Sherman, Bobby Wagner, Michael Bennett, Kam Chancellor, et al (although star safety Earl Thomas is doubtful with a hamstring injury).

“I don’t know how they continue to pay all these guys and have them come back each and every year,” Stanton said. “They’ve got a good formula and a good (salary) cap guy, apparently. They’re as consistent as ever.”

The Cardinals’ defense had five sacks and two takeaways against the 49ers and will be relied on heavily again, albeit against a much more talented quarterback in Russell Wilson.

Seattle’s offense has been inconsistent due to offensive line and running game issues. Left tackle Duane Brown was added at the trading deadline and should strengthen the unit, but if the Cardinals can attack at all angles like they did against the 49ers, they could make life tough on Wilson.

The Cardinals are 3-3-1 in their past seven games against the Seahawks, but none of the wins have come at University of Phoenix Stadium. They return home for the first time since their impressive win over the Buccaneers in mid-October, kicking off a stretch of four of the next five in their friendly confines.

Four times this season, the Cardinals have fallen below .500, and then, the next time out, returned to it. They will aim to buck the trend in this one and move above .500 for the first time since their dominant 2015 season. It would also be their first two-game winning streak of the year.

“When you start stacking wins, the confidence starts building,” Arians said. “We need to do that.”

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