The Cardinals take Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson down for a sack during their October meeting.
Perhaps it was the play that might have been blown dead but wasn't, a miraculous throw by Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson as Cardinals linebacker Daryl Washington was taking him down for a sure third-down sack.
Wilson's knee was all but down as he flipped the ball to tight end Zack Miller to keep a scoring drive alive, and in one moment crystalized the frustration and challenge of defending the guy who makes the Seahawks go.
"He created two touchdowns that weren't designed in the playbook in our ballgame that was the difference in the game," Cardinals coach
Bruce Arians said. "He was the difference in the game. He is on an MVP-type season."
Wilson had three touchdown passes and no interceptions in the first meeting, although he did get sacked three times and lost a pair of fumbles. The Cardinals have spent a lot of time figuring out the best way to pressure Wilson and could bring extra rushers – "I love it when they blitz," Wilson said – but defensive coordinator Todd Bowles knows Wilson has a lot of ways to maneuver out of trouble.
"He's dangerous because he uses his brain, his arm, his feet, his legs and he's slithery," Bowles said. "You go back, four guys can't get to him, five guys can't get to him and then he finds a guy open down the field."
Thanks to Wilson's ability to run and the play of running back Marshawn Lynch, the Seahawks also have a very good three-pronged run-pass option Wilson has turned into an art form. The Seahawks don't use play-action as much as a zone read, allowing Wilson to either give the ball to Lynch, keep it himself or flip it to an open receiver on the run in a play that is tough to defend.
"It's more their zone read that messes everyone up," Washington said. "You have that defensive end or outside linebacker, what do you take? You take the dive, he's going to run it. You take the quarterback they will hand it to the dive. It's something you have to scheme for. Zone read turns into a play action. It's that triple threat.
"Don't practice it right and it will eat you up all day."
Arians, however, sees Wilson's pocket presence as the biggest problem.
"He's much more dangerous when he has the rest of the team is going out for passes and he has the field spread for his athletic ability," Arians said.
BEATING THE CENTURYLINK FIELD NOISE
The Cardinals are not using any special earplugs going to Seattle, but they will use the silent count to try and defeat the noise problem Sunday.
"It's probably the toughest on the guys that have to block the D-ends," quarterback Carson Palmer said. "You are a guy away from the ball, and you are trying to use your peripheral vision. You have to very good pass rushers, three very good pass rushers that they have. So you have to try and jump the count and stay onsides. There is a fine line."
Arians said the Cardinals will limit some of the run/pass options that can be called because communicating changes at the line is tough.
"Coach said it earlier in the week, once you go to silent count for us on offense, it doesn't change anything," guard Daryn Colledge said. "Silent count is silent count whether it is super loud or barely loud. There is it loud. Communication is a little harder with the line identifying the defense but once we get ready to play we snap. And it's our job to get the crowd out of it."
FITZGERALD AMONG A HANDFUL OF QUESTIONABLE CARDS
Wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald is undergoing the final part of concussion protocol Friday afternoon, and while he practiced Friday, he will be a game-day decision as the Cardinals continue to monitor whether he has any setbacks.
Many of the Cardinals on the injury report will be game-day decisions, Arians said. Safety Rashad Johnson (ankle) is the only one doubtful, and he is not expected to play after missing practice all week. Johnson was out of his walking boot, however. Tony Jefferson would take his place in the lineup.
As for quarterback Carson Palmer, Arians said his veteran was "good enough to play.
"He can move around the pocket as well as he did last week," Arians said.
Officially, Fitzgerald, Palmer, linebacker Matt Shaughnessy (groin) and tight end Rob Housler (groin) are all questionable. They were the only players limited for the Cardinals.
For the Seahawks, receiver Percy Harvin (hip), guard JR Sweezy (concussion) and linebacker KJ Wright (foot) all are out. All others on the injury list are probable.