GLENDALE—Kyler Murray can be a maddening player for opposing pass-rushers.
At one moment, a defense might think it has the Cardinals quarterback stopped in the backfield, and in the next moment Murray is scrambling for a big gain. And for much of the first half of Sunday's game in Arizona, that's how things went for the Seahawks' defensive front, which got plenty of pressure on Murray, but never got him down in the backfield.
The most frustrating instance came on the Cardinals' opening drive, which could have been a three-and-out if not for Murray's elusiveness. Instead of a third-down sack, however, Murray gained 21 yards on a scramble, extending a drive that ended with a touchdown.
In the second half of an eventual 31-21 win, however, Seattle's pass rush started to get to Murray, and by the end of the afternoon, the Seahawks had five sacks, giving them 19 in the past four games after recording just eight in their first five games.
Leading the way, as has been the case all season, was outside linebacker Uchenna Nwosu, who had two sacks, bringing his team-leading total to 7.0, a new career best. Also getting in on the action was Bruce Irvin and Shelby Harris—the fifth sack was recorded as a team sack—to other veteran additions to the team.
"Uchenna had a great game today," Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said. "Shelby really came through, too. Irvin had his first sack, coming back. I'm excited for him, too. We got after the quarterback really well today. He's so hard to get and all of their yards were from the quarterback running and we were fortunate to get him down."
Throughout this season, a lot of talk when it came to the Seahawks' success has focused on quarterback Geno Smith and an outstanding rookie class, and for good reason. But what has flown a little more under the radar has been some of the other additions general John Schneider made in the offseason in addition to re-signing Smith and hitting a home run in the draft.
Nwosu, one of Seattle's first additions in free agency, has gone from a solid player with the Chargers to looking like a Pro-Bowler in his first year with the Seahawks. Harris, who was part of the Russell Wilson trade, has been consistently disruptive as a starting defensive end. Quinton Jefferson, a free-agent addition, is tied for second on the team with three sacks. And Irvin, who was unsigned before the Seahawks brought him back to Seattle last month, has started the past two weeks and made big contributions both in run defense and as an edge-rusher. Throw in the re-signing of free agent Al Woods, and the construction of Seattle's defensive front, which includes a rookie starter in outside linebacker Boye Mafe, is one of the best midseason success stories the first-place Seahawks have going.
And of all those moves, the addition of Nwosu has stood out the most throughout a season in which he has arguably been Seattle's best defensive player through nine games. The Seahawks hoped they were getting a playmaker in Nwosu, but they also were projecting a bit because they planed to use him somewhat differently than the Chargers had.
"We were going to play him a little differently than he played with Los Angeles," Carroll said. "We love the kid, his background, makeup, style of play, and his toughness and smarts and all of that, but we didn't know how he would adapt to the stuff that we gave him. That kid is having a great year. He's everywhere—running game, passing game, all kinds of big plays. He got two sacks again, so he has seven. That was a great first half (of the season) from him. The guy, we were banking on him to be a great player to add to the program, in hopes that we could sell him on what we were doing."
Nwosu said back when he signed with the Seahawks that he did so in large part because he saw an opportunity to show the type of player he is capable of being, and midway through the season the move is paying off for both him and the team.
"That's why I signed here," he said. "I knew the scheme, I was in a similar scheme in the prior place I was at and coming here I knew that the coaching staff was only going to get me better and they would use me the right way. I'm happy to be here and I'm happy to see what the future holds."
Said Irvin, "He's the real deal. He is the real deal. He doesn't get the fame or recognition that he deserves. The guy just comes in, busts his tail every day, and he produces. Four sacks in the last two game, he's one of the top edge guys in the league if you ask me."
And speaking of Irvin, his sack was his first since he had a career-best 8.5 with the Panthers in 2019, and it was his first as a Seahawk since 2015.
"I haven't had a sack in two years, so it felt great," he said. "That's all I can say, it felt great."
Check out some of the best action shots from Seahawks vs. Cardinals at State Farm Stadium on November 6, 2022. Game action photos are presented by Washington's Lottery.