The score appeared on the whiteboard in a meeting room earlier this week, and while there are plenty of coaches and players with the Cardinals who were not part of the team’s last trip to Seattle a little more than a year ago, those that were there remember.
It’s hard not to recall 58-0.
The loss left enough of an imprint that when Steve Keim was hired as general manager, he referred to two moments of motivation for his new job – standing on the University of Phoenix Stadium turf after the Cards won the NFC Championship in 2008, and standing in CenturyLink Field at the end of 2012’s low point.
It was rough to live through. But it also help change the course of the franchise.
“There are a lot of guys that weren’t there and the guys that were here know it’s not even close to the same group,” guard
“But it was a turnaround for us, a reality check for us that things had to change for us to compete in this division. We are playing in the toughest division in the NFL.”
With all but a couple of coaches new this season, that game is meaningless to the staff. Head coach Bruce Arians dismissed the idea he would even show his players any video from that day.
“It’s not our offense or our defense,” Arians said. “Who gives a (expletive)?”
Given that the Cardinals already played the Seahawks since last year’s blowout – with Seattle securing a 34-22 win earlier this season at University of Phoenix Stadium – the newcomers to the Cards already have a more recent Seahawks reference point.
The game in Seattle was the definition of two teams headed in opposite directions. The Seahawks had finally found their stride with then-rookie quarterback Russell Wilson. The Cardinals were in the middle of a long losing streak and juggling starting quarterbacks. Eight turnovers later, nothing else could have gone wrong.
“It lingers in the back of your head,” defensive tackle
“The biggest thing I want people to understand is, (the Seahawks) are beatable. Don’t get me wrong, they are a great team. On both sides of the ball and on special teams and they have great coaching. They are what they are, an 11-2 team. But I do understand in this business, everybody is beatable. Any given Sunday. We don’t have to put up bulletin board material for them. And they don’t have to put up bulletin board material for us. The game will take care of itself.”
Arians has been pounding into the heads of his players since he arrived that he expected them to be competitive right away. His training camp comment about not seeing dominance in the division despite strong teams in the Seahawks and 49ers had less to do with how good those teams were and more to do with wanting his own team to show they too would compete.
That’s been proven out with the Cardinals and their 9-5 record.
“In this division you better play great defense and you better be physical,” Arians said. “I thought we would be able to scratch points out. I probably didn’t think we’d do it with this many injuries, but I’m very confident. When you put a team together and talk about the team winning games and next man up, it’s not B.S. These guys really believe it.”
The Cardinals look, sound and play much differently than the team that visited Seattle last season. The Seahawks insist they know that too.
“You know, I totally forgot about that game,” Seahawks safety Earl Thomas said. “It was last year. The biggest difference for a great competitor, they don’t lean on last year’s reputation. We always set out to write our own story. This is a very tough team we are facing.”
Colledge’s point about the game being a reality check seemed to help last year as well. The Cardinals snapped their losing streak the very next week by pounding the Lions at home.
Then came the offseason of change, and a year under Arians that has the Cardinals returning to Seattle in the middle of the playoff chase. The calendar says the last ugly trip to Seattle was a little more than a year ago, but the way the Cardinals have maneuvered through this season, it feels like an even more distant memory.
“We’re moving in a new direction,” Peterson said. “Obviously it sucked, but it is 2013. We don’t want to live in the past. We want to live in the future.”