The big shift in the Cardinals' organization came in Seattle, when the Cards were hammered, 58-0, in 2012 and that led to the end of the tenures of GM Rod Graves and coach Ken Whisenhunt. Since then, the Cardinals have been pretty good in Seattle – always a difficult place to play – in winning four of six games. Larry Fitzgerald talks often that one of his most memorable games was the win there in 2013, on the Michael Floyd touchdown catch. Even last season, when things had gone haywire and was headed to a coaching change in Steve Wilks' lone season, the Cardinals went to Seattle and came soclose to upsetting the Seahawks at the end of the season.
"Football is football," Fitzgerald said. "It comes down to will and desire. You have to be able to go out and play with great intensity. We have to impose our will. When we have had success, that's what we've been able to do."
"Impose our will" oftentimes in the NFL is translated into running the ball. The Cards have done better with that with Kenyan Drake and Kyler Murray, the latter of whom is leading the Cardinals in rushing. And none of the Cards, after watching the video this week, were happy about how they performed on offense back in the first meeting, a 27-10 Seahawks win at State Farm Stadium.
What's funny about that is that, statistically, it shouldn't have been one-sided. The Seahawks had one more first down, 21-20. Both teams rushed for 115 yards. The total yards was 340-321 Seattle. Each team absorbed four sacks and took seven penalties. But Seahawks defensive end Jadeveon Clowney made an athletic interception he returned for a touchdown, Zane Gonzalez missed two field goals, and the Cards were down 20-3 at halftime.
The Seahawks are currently the NFC's No. 1 seed and have everything to play for. They will and deserved to be favored. But the Cards just find a way to play well there in the dreary Northwest. I just think this won't be any different.
-- Murray said the Cardinals will obviously have a feel for what the Seahawks want to do defensively. How he handles the rest of the game – the stadium, the noise, the elements – is what bears watching.
"Me personally, I'm just excited to play the game," Murray said. "I'm not really like, 'Oh, I'm excited to go to Seattle, and it be cold and raining.'"
-- Patrick Peterson has now a few times talked about keeping guys on defense together. This week's version:
"Next year when we get Robert (Alford) back, we're going to be one heck of a secondary to be reckoned with," he said. "Next year, if upper management can find a way to keep not only the secondary together but the key players that we need to make this turnover, I think the sky's the limit for this defense."
This is notable not only because Peterson, genuinely in my opinion, is talking about the need for him to remain in Arizona. He's also praised defensive coordinator Vance Joseph multiple times. I know this is a moving target in a lot of ways, but Peterson certainly sounds like someone planning to be around in 2020.
-- The Seahawks, who are already likely to be without Clowney because of a core injury, lost defensive tackle Al Woods with a PED suspension Friday. The Seahawks have not had a good pass rush this season, and without Clowney in particular, it's that much more depleted. They only have 24 sacks this season. Chandler Jones, of course, has 15 by himself.
-- Jones needs three sacks in the last two games to break his own franchise record. Russell Wilson, as good as he is, has taken 42 sacks this year. This is an opportunity for Jones.
-- The only quarterback to start every game this season and not lose a fumble is Kyler Murray. He's only fumbled three times – an unexpected snap in Baltimore, and then one each in New Orleans and against the Steelers when Murray lost the ball when he was moving and he bumped it against his leg. (You probably don't want to be in a position to fumble because it's bumping against your leg, but that's a note for another time.)
-- Another interesting note (thanks, Kyle) with a Seattle connection. Gonzalez missed those two field goals against the Seahawks (making a third). That happened to be the one game in which Gonzalez had fill-in punter Ryan Winslow as his holder. On 28 other field-goal attempts with regular punter Andy Lee as his holder, Gonzalez has made 27.
See you Sunday.