Just over three weeks ago, the Seahawks' offense scored 34 points against the Cardinals' defense. The Seahawks lost the game in overtime, but it was another strong performance for an offense that was rolling.
Despite the high point total, something was off in the second half. The Seahawks scored 27 points in the first two quarters, but just seven after the break. The Cardinals pressured more as the game progressed and that was key to their comeback victory.
As the Seahawks prepare for the second and final date of the season with their division rivals, they are focusing on stalling Arizona's pass rush.
"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 Monday. "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."
Russell Wilson was under duress often later in the game, as the Cardinals sacked him twice in overtime. Overall, Arizona totaled nine quarterback hits on Wilson. Haason Reddick and Jordan Hicks lead the way up front, but safety Budda Baker often finds his way into the backfield, too.
"They do a great job of mixing all the guys who pressure," Wilson said at his Tuesday press conference. "They change their packages so much, they do a really good job of that. They're one of the best in football at it. (Cardinals defensive coordinator Vance 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, which is second in the league. Arizona enters Thursday tied for sixth in the conference in both quarterback pressures (86) and quarterback knockdowns (28), per Pro Football Reference.
Despite losing Pro Bowl outside linebacker Chandler Jones to injury in Week 5, the Cardinals haven't had trouble generating pressure.
It will take a group effort across the offense in order to evade the constant rush, Carroll believes.
"It's all phases – it's not just the guys up front – it's Russ changing the protection and making the right decisions, it's receivers adjusting properly, it's all of that," Carroll said. "We expect to get pressure from them."
The offensive line – along with Wilson, the running backs and the tight ends – will all play a role in overcoming the aggressive Arizona defense.