Gridiron Gab Week Seven Preview: Arizona at Seattle

With a win Sunday at Qwest Field, the Seattle Seahawks will have done something it hasn’t since early December of last season, win consecutively.

“It’s important for us to keep some momentum going here,” said Seattle head coach Pete Carroll at his Wednesday press conference from his team’s Renton, Wash. training facilities. “Which we haven’t done.”

Looking to stop that momentum from developing will be the visiting Arizona Cardinals. At 3-2, both Arizona and Seattle sit tied atop the NFC West standings.

“They can beat you a number of ways,” said Carroll.

After starting off to a sluggish start, Arizona’s defense has heated up. Prior to the team’s Week Six bye, the unit forced defending Super Bowl champion New Orleans into four turnovers, three of them interceptions of Drew Brees, en route to clinching the team a 30-20 victory.

The unit is led by first-year Cardinal Kerry Rhodes. Arizona uses the former New York Jet in blitz packages, short-yardage coverage and man-to-man deep coverage. His 36-yard fumble return for a touchdown against New Orleans made the 6-foot-3, 212-pounder the first defensive player in Arizona’s franchise history to return fumbles for touchdowns in back-to-back games.

When Rhodes and his counterparts aren’t on the field, Arizona puts the ball in the hands of a rookie quarterback.

“He’s a very savvy kid,” said Seattle’s Carroll of rookie Max Hall.

“He’s mobile and quick and resourceful.”

Those attributes helped put the undrafted free agent out of Brigham Young in exclusive company following the Cardinals’ Week Five victory over the Saints. The Mesa, Ariz. native became the first undrafted rookie quarterback to defeat the defending Super Bowl champion since 1967 when Kent Nix led the Pittsburgh Steelers past the Green Bay Packers.

Helping Hall succeed is his Pro Bowl wide receiver, Larry Fitzgerald.

“I don’t know if anybody can catch the ball better than him,” said Carroll.

In seven seasons in the National Football League, the 6-foot-3, 218-pound Fitzgerald’s 549 catches for 7,368 yards and 61 touchdowns have earned him four trips to the Pro Bowl and one First-Team All-Pro selection.

“He’ll factor in and just break your heart,” said the Seahawks’ head coach. “I don’t know that you can stop him, you just need to keep his numbers from being silly.”

While he hasn’t earned the kind of recognition Fitzgerald has, if Seattle’s Mike Williams can build off last Sunday’s performance in Chicago, the former first-round pick could join the ranks of the National Football League’s best.

Against the Bears, Williams hauled in 10 of the 15 balls thrown to him for 123 yards.

“We’re trying to work the field better,” said Carroll.

Williams and the passing game faced less pressure last Sunday thanks to those up front.

“The fact that the protection was so good makes that all possible,” said Carroll. “Best game for our offensive line, for the season – of any time we’ve been together.”

Should the line continue its improved play, Seattle running back Marshawn Lynch’s ability to eat up big chunks of yardage when toting the football could be the difference Sunday against Arizona at what is projected to be a rainy Qwest Field.

Kickoff is set for 4:05 p.m. Eastern.

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