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The Feel Of Dominance

Shutting down Seahawks gave defense a rare thrill

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Linebacker Clark Haggans forces a bad pass from Seattle quarterback Matt Hasselbeck Sunday.
 
 
Every game, the Cardinals' defense attempts to focus shutting down the other team and ultimately, trying to shut them out.

That's no surprise. It's necessity.

Actually feeling invincible on the field -- feeling like the other team will never have a chance – comes less often.

"When you get to that point, it is fun," linebacker Karlos Dansby said Monday, noting the day before, "it was early."

"I don't know what it was," Dansby added. "It was something in the air."

The score alone – the Cardinals won, 27-3, in Seattle – was enough to prove a good day. But sorting through the statistics revealed a dominant effort rarely seen from the Cards, and an important development heading into what promises to be a hype-filled game Sunday night in New York against the Giants.

The last time the Cardinals allowed as few as three points in a game was a 14-3 win over the Giants on Oct. 10, 1999. They hadn't held a team to three points or fewer in a road game since they did it in Philadelphia in 1974.

The Seahawks were held to 15 yards rushing – the lowest total in Seattle's franchise history – and the Cards moved their NFL-leading rush defense down to 59.6 yards a game. The Seahawks gained just 38 total yards in the entire second half.

"You get into the zone and that rhythm, 'I know we can't be stopped,' " defensive end Calais Campbell said. "We definitely got there as a team, because we had that feeling nothing they could do could stop us."

The Cardinals forced two turnovers and had five sacks – two of which should belong to Campbell after statistical updates. The Seahawks have endured many injuries on the offensive line and are certainly not in the same class as the Giants, who scored 37 points against the Cards last season in a 37-29 win at University of Phoenix Stadium.

Yet Campbell said he thinks the Cards' defense "can be special" and it very well could be if it reaches such a high level of production.

"It's a feeling of cohesiveness on the field that everyone will do their job and we hadn't had that feeling in any of the games this year yet," veteran cornerback Ralph Brown said. "When we went on the field, the defense had a swagger. It's a confidence and trust you have. It was a great feeling."

Not everyone was embracing the moment. Perhaps mindful of bulletin board material – or maybe just not in the mood to talk about the defense after many wrote about the juxtaposition last week of the Cards' No. 1 run defense and the No. 32 pass defense – safety Adrian Wilson  insisted the defense was still making mistakes that were covered up by Sunday's pass rush.

"We're just trying to hang on and get no worse," Wilson deadpanned.

The pass defense allowed only 114 net yards, and that was including the Seahawks' 42-yard fake punt when the return team was on the field.

That a fake punt accounted for a significant chunk of Seattle's yardage only underscored just why Dansby and his teammates felt impenetrable.

"When you talk about a good defense, the one thing I remember from my days in Pittsburgh when we were playing at our best was that it was a team effort," coach Ken Whisenhunt said. "That's what I saw (Sunday)."

EXTRA POINTS

Whisenhunt said the status of wide receiver Anquan Boldin and his ankle sprain will be evaluated as the week goes along. There is still optimism Boldin will be able to play in New York and Whisenhunt said again Monday he pulled Boldin in Seattle because he wanted to protect the ankle, not because Boldin couldn't continue. …

Whisenhunt felt quarterback Kurt Warner's accomplishment of tying the record of Dan Marino for fastest player to 30,000 passing yards  (114 games) was lost in the shuffle Sunday, so the coach extended his congratulations and feels like it is a major step toward Warner being Hall of Fame-worthy.

Warner, as usual, downplayed the milestone. "You're in the midst of so much other stuff right now, you're not even thinking about it," Warner said. "It'll be great 10 years from now or 20 years from now, I can be sitting with my grandkids bragging about different accomplishments but right now, it's not what we are focused on."
 
 

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