We saw a stark contrast between how the Seahawks and Cardinals approached the end of last week’s overtime thriller.
Pete Carroll explained that Seattle opted to play straight up, hoping to outlast Arizona’s offense. That, of course, didn’t work as the Cardinals erased a 10-point fourth quarter deficit and moved the ball with relative ease on both of their possessions in overtime.
The Cardinals took the exact opposite approach. Understanding that stopping Russell Wilson wasn’t going to be easy in overtime, Arizona’s defensive coordinator threw the kitchen sink at Seattle’s offense. Joseph pressured relentlessly and from all angles.
Wilson, after not being sacked during regulation, was taken down twice on Seattle’s opening drive of overtime. Byron Murphy’s third-down sack ended the possession on a corner blitz the Seahawks never saw coming.
Seattle’s second drive ended in an interception that was a direct result of more pressure brought by Joseph. Wilson tried to get the ball out quick and force the ball into a window that wasn’t open. Cardinals rookie Isaiah Simmons showed blitz up the middle before retreating into coverage, fooling Wilson. He made a leaping interception for the first takeaway of his career.
The blitzes were multiple and well disguised. It was one of the few times this season where an opposing defense was able to get the Seahawks offense on its heels. A pair of whiffs from DeeJay Dallas in blitz pickups didn’t help Seattle’s cause, either.
“We didn’t handle it perfectly across the board. There were some adjustments that I look back that I think I should have gotten to quicker,” Brian Schottenheimer said on Thursday.
Schottenheimer did note that the quick pass to the left to DK Metcalf was a blitz-beater. With Arizona bringing heavy pressure, all Metcalf had to do was pick up two blocks from David Moore and Tyler Lockett. After that, it would be nothing but daylight. Lockett provided an exquisite cut block and Moore appeared to seal the edge as Metcalf sprinted 48 yards for what would have been a game-winning touchdown.
However, Moore was called for a holding penalty that nullified the score. Wilson’s third interception came on the ensuing play.
“I give Vance credit,” Schottenheimer said. “He came after us, but (if) you do that, it’s pretty dangerous. I’ll take that we have to be better in those situations, the way we get things blocked up and the adjustments happened a little bit late. That falls on me.”
Joseph surely knew the potential pitfalls of his decisions. That’s part of the equation when taking risks and sending blitzes. But it sure seems like a better strategy to proactively attack Wilson rather than the route Seattle’s defense picked of playing straight up and hoping for the best. It’s why Arizona is now 2-0 in the division and why Carroll said he regrets not making an adjustment.
It’s a tough lesson to learn as Seattle should be 6-0, but it could serve the Seahawks well as long as they learn from their coaching blunders.