You know what is great about Week 3? Seattle wins. You may have already known, but I want to remind you from the beginning that this one ends happily, for the first time this season, and get you juiced up from the start. Because, well, we're coming off Week 2. Yuck.
Coming into this one, the offense was showing little sign of life; pass protection wasn't helping an easing-into-his-role signal caller that wasn't exactly on the mark. The defense was playing okay and even stout at times, but they couldn't get the quarterback to the ground. Turnover margin mattered Week 1 (-3) and it was zero Week 2; zero turnovers forced through two games. 17 penalties through two games, eh. Missed tackles leading to big plays on special teams, notably two inside of 4 minute left return touchdowns in Week 1, we're an issue. You could say youth and/or discontinuity appeared to be a factor in all of this, not to mention the offense was yet to have all of its pieces.
Seattle was welcoming the 12th man for the first time this year, and a loss would not be welcomed. The fans were ready to hound the new starting quarterback, and this team needed something good to happen. This was a game Seattle could win. They needed some home cookin', and they knew it.
It's worth acknowledging that I actually went to 7 of 8 games at the CLink; the second year of my life with tickets (the other was 2006). It was pretty cool and insightful at times. If I remember something I'll mention it, but I'm not trying to go overboard with "I remember this happened" moments unless it's pertinent. Anyway, the Cards were 1-1, coming off of a 1 point road loss at Washington. Back to Week 3.
On the opening kick Paul McQuistan looked juiced for his first start since 2007 (Robert Gallery was recovering from surgery) and made a strong block; Lemuel Jeanpierre got leveled.
Seattle ball at their 23, they come out in '12' with Zach Miller and Anthony McCoy both right. Jackson takes a seven step drop scanning the right side of the field. He has the two tight ends and Sidney Rice - he started!!! - out there. Guess where the ball is going...
Right away, it happens; the whole prior chemistry with Rice thing comes into play on the first play of the game. Well look at that. On 2nd and 1, Mike Williams lines up on the bottom and Jackson misses him high and behind on a quick slant. So now 3rd and 1; opening play scripts have been a conversation point in both games this season and this intrigued me.
Check the formation:
An extra lineman (Breno Giacomini) right, with Zach Miller and fullback Eddie Williams - Mike Rob out since the 1st quarter of Week 1 - also in the game. They run a fullback dive away from all of the underlined defenders - note the circled safety well outside the box - and get the 1.
On the next 3rd and 1 comes another six offensive lineman set with Giacomini right again, but this time Miller is up top creating the seven man line (also, the receiver is tight):
Cardinals' timeout leads to this formation again and a Lynch run for eight, sprung by good blocking by Miller, the left side of the line and Eddie Williams. Back to the intrigue; did Seattle mix in these heavy sets thinking that either one of these calls would catch the defense off guard; or that they may find themselves in need of a heavy set on 3rd and short - planning to get certain yardage with their calls on 1st and 2nd, short passes or runs to this point - to sustain a drive? We know heavy sets are a part of the game plan through two weeks, so maybe I'm looking too much into things? Anyway, ball moving.
Then it begins to rain.
We learn on the broadcast Jackson doesnt like throwing in the rain. It's Seattle...the rainiest months are November to January, football season, and this is September...F***.
The next play, Seattle in '11':
Miller in motion, snap, play action to Forsett, Miller stays in to block...
No on is there for Miller but Carpenter does a nice job to keep the rusher out of Jackson's way. T-Jax has an opportunity to make a strong throw on the run...
Over one defender, underneath another, but right to the third.
Not a good decision by Jackson. I'm having Troy Polamalu flashbacks. Wilson shoulda had it; he's throwing a tanty. Both players blame the rain...right...Did the front office know Jackson hated the rain? (Maybe that's why they signed him to a two year deal...)
Get ready to blame the rain, again:
Seattle in '21' vs the 3-4, running a sweep with Russell Okung and McQuistan pulling.
Bobbled pitch and this play didn't work. In all honesty, even with the rain, this sequence is when I became a bit worried about ball security with this offense. Jackson had fumbled and bobbled snap issues through two games, and now two games in a row a safety dropped a pick. Lynch lost three fumbles in 2010 as well. Really hoping this isn't a sign of the year to come.
On 3rd Calais Campbell beats P-Mac with a swim move and body slams T-Jax. If this we're a Cardinals blog, I'd show the pictures. On the punt, the snap slips from Ryan's hands and the ball goes 28 yards. This must be some really slippery water.
Arizona ball, 2nd and 6 on the 34. Perhaps the sweetest play of the game didn't even count. Seattle is in a 4-3 versus '12.' Leroy Hill crashes the A-gap and gets pushed out, but Chancellor comes late through the same spot and blows the running back into the backfield, impacting the throw. Clemons gets pressure too.
K.J. Wright shows off his 'I should start over Aaron Curry' hops and length, tipping the ball to ET...
Who then does his own tip, turn and dive body controltortion routine. No, you won't find that in the dictionary. This was the turnover they needed. Yes!!!!!!!...Am I seeing things, or is that yellow sitting on the 37 yard line?
Ugh. On the return Brandon Browner holds his own against a lineman which is cool, but Kam Chancellor says...
'ball so hard Roger Goddell wanna fine me.' Take that Browner. Todd Heap gets blasted. The Cardinals' coaches and players are pissed. The crowd is jacked up. (YouTube video of this hit here.)
Heap is eventually fine and the play results in an Arizona 1st down after the Browner illegal contact penalty, and the chains are moving. Arizona creates runs for 5 and 8, and then Kolb hits Fitz over Browner for 28 down the sideline - Browner jams at the line and Fitz stumbles, but then Browner hesitates and Fitz's creates room
for Kolb to drop it in there on the outside shoulder. 1st and 10 on the Seattle 20.
The defensive line dominates leading to a loss of one. 2nd and 11, it's time to bring some heat. What I liked about this defensive game plan was that it had some pressure wrinkles. Not to say I personally liked all of the calls, but Seattle came in trying to match Arizona's versatile attack with some of their own aggression and these next two calls are an indication.
Seattle is in a 4-3, which looks like a 6-1, versus a '12'. Chris Clemons is the arrowed man. His teammate to the outside, the underlined Leroy Hill, will blitz too and draw the tackle; the tight end chips and releases.
Clem gets there, Kolb spins out and Hill cleans up the mess. Clemons was all over the place in this game. On 3rd and 23...all arrowed players represent not defensive backs.
1, 2, 3, 4...7 DB's...BANDIT!!!! Blitzing and confusion! Well, actually, not much here. Only the underlined Atari Bigby blitzes, Clemons and Hargrove maybe try and run a stunt; maybe they just get mauled together.
The back dips inside Bigby for the screen and Bigby influences the throw. Pass dropped, and then a missed 51 yard field goal. The 12th man! Can they help this?
Hopefully. Seattle ball on their 41, 6:52 in the first. Another first down throw to Rice on the right side (note the good protection by Lynch and Carpenter) working between the tight ends, this throw is a little shorter:
Neutral zone infraction gets a 1st down. Lynch runs hard (out of a six lineman set) for five, then Jackson makes this throw:
Ball hits Rice in the face mask, but he holds on. Explosive play for 32. Jackson laid it up there for his receiver, weird. Continuity via prior experience in action. Now we are in the redzone and things kinda get funky. Like tasting Chinese food that went bad 24 hours ago kinda funky.
On 1st from the 12, Seattle is in '12' and Lynch motions out right to the side of the two tight ends. Miller and McCoy pull out on the quick screen:
Those three in the box through cut blocks, but unfortunately they're the only three on the ground.
Nothin. On 2nd and 8 they unbalance line with Okung right and run behind the fullback/tight end combo left, quirky call. On 3rd and 11 the two circled players (Mike Williams up top, Justin Forsett in the backfield) will both have the screen set up for them.
Okung throws a cut (underlined), all six arrows are looking to block. Jackson is looking towards Forsett.
Miller misses his block, Carpenter has to try and clean up.
No end zone shots, no straight forward power running calls. Two screens to the backs right with a quirky running call mixed in. This was curious sequence in my opinion. But the bright side is...Seattle's first lead of the year after a field goal! First 1st quarter points, too!
On the kickoff; remember those missed tackles I spoke of in the intro? Well, this happens; see tacklers pursue...
See tacklers get bunched and blocked in the box, and A.J. Jefferson hits the alley. Richard Sherman, Matt McCoy and Earl Thomas all miss as after Jefferson explodes past the initial wave. Guess who comes to the rescue;
Kicker Steven Hauschka dives, grabs and holds on for the ride. Jefferson soon goes down after a 51 yard return to the Arizona 48.
Check out this super fancy shift by the Cardinals:
Check out how much it didn't do anything.
Red missed a tackle for loss (which turned into five yard run) on the last series, but this time no problemo. Brandon Browner makes a nice play on 2nd down, starting on Fitzgerald and then peeling off into the flat to make a tackle on the fullback:
ET helps on Fitzgerald over the top so Browner can go to the flat.
Solid team D.
3rd and 4.
BANDIT!!! The two guys with arrows are Anthony Hargrove and Richard Sherman. Hargove drops to where Sherman is. Seattle only rushes three...
And Kolb takes off into the void for the scramble and 1st down. 'Grove and Sherm were talking about the Shower pill dance off!!. Maybe Arizona punts if that doesn't happen. Bad camera work leads to us missing the 1st down run, then Raheem Brock encroaches on 2nd and 7. Pete says
As you can see, the quarter is almost done. On 2nd and 2, we see this spread versus DB heavy formation:
And the clock runs out. For the first time in this series, we end a quarter with Seattle in the lead. Second quarter, in a more compressed form, coming soon.