In Week 7, the Arizona Cardinals blitzed Russell Wilson into an overtime interception that tilted the balance of the NFC West.
In the second half of the October contest, Cards DC Vance Joseph ratcheted up the pressure, holding Wilson and the Seattle Seahawks to just seven points in the second half, allowing Arizona to make a dramatic comeback from a 27-17 halftime deficit.
The big blitzes called by Joseph set up a bluff-pressure with just over a minute remaining in overtime that led to Isaiah Simmons intercepting Wilson and setting up the Cardinals victory.
The division win currently places Arizona in the NFC West lead ahead of the rematch Thursday night.
Wilson knows Joseph is likely to once again bring pressure all night.
“They do a great job of mixing all the guys who pressure,” Wilson said Tuesday, via Logan Reardon of the team’s official website. “They change their packages so much, they do a really good job of that. They’re one of the best in football at it. (Joseph) is one of the best coaches in the game in terms of how he does his pressure packages.
“For us it’s just about diagnosing it and being clear and being on the same page, communication wise. I think that’s what kind of happened to us last time, just missed a couple blocks here and there. They bring a lot of confusion and different things that they try to do, but there’s also a lot of things that can happen because of it, in a good way for us as well. That’s the biggest thing that we have to be really clear on — identifying stuff and making sure we’re crisp.”
The Cardinals have blitzed 163 times this season, second-most in the NFL through 10 weeks.
Wilson was blitzed on 51.9 percent of dropbacks in Week 7 versus Arizona, the highest rate in a game for Wilson this season.
Arizona enters Thursday’s game tied for 10th in the NFL with 22 sacks and 86 pressures.
“They’ve continued to be a high-pressure group here, particularly the last couple games, they’re getting after it,” Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said this week. “They’re not probably going to change their ways. We have to do right — make the right identifications, make good calls and everything has to work together.”
Joseph has been creative with his blitz packages, using a six-linebacker, five-defensive back grouping to deploy pressure at times. Against that grouping in Week 7, Wilson was 1-of-3 passing for 13 yards and the game-deciding INT. Arizona is the only defense to use 6 LBs and 5 DBs on passing plays in the last two seasons, per Next Gen Stats. Joseph has generated seven pressures on 21 dropbacks, with three sacks, in that personnel.
Wilson has been a turnover magnet since that Week 7 outing. The QB has two or more interceptions in three of his last four games.
The Seahawks know Joseph will bring pressure Thursday night. How Wilson and the Seahawks handle it this time around will tell the story of how the matchup for NFC West supremacy will unfold.
Thursday’s marquee NFC West showdown between the Cardinals and Seahawks kicks off in Seattle at 8:20 p.m. ET and airs on NFL Network, FOX and Amazon Prime Video.
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