4:15 PM ET, September 25, 2011
CenturyLink Field, Seattle, WA
The NFC West rivals face off Sunday in Seattle, where the defending division champs try to avoid their first 0-3 start since 2002.
After Carolina's Cam Newton shredded Arizona's defense for 422 passing yards in the Cardinals' season opener, they did little to slow down Washington in a 22-21 loss last Sunday.
Arizona (1-1) led 21-13 in the fourth quarter, but Washington scored on its three fourth-quarter drives, taking the lead on a 34-yard field goal with 1:45 to go.
"There a lot of mistakes we are making," safety Kerry Rhodes told the Cardinals' official website. "It's kind of mind-boggling."
Despite the large amounts of yardage Arizona has given up in new defensive coordinator Ray Horton's scheme, the Cardinals are a surprising 11th in points allowed, having given up three red-zone touchdowns in nine opportunities. They had a pair of interceptions last week, including one in the red zone.
"When we're on the same page, and guys are understanding what we're doing, we're a pretty good defense," coach Ken Whisenhunt said. "But when we make our bad plays, they're really bad. We're dropping coverage, we're not hitting the right gaps, we're not stepping the right way with blitzes. All of those are things we've got to get cleaned up. It's a function of not having been in the scheme for too long."
Rhodes said they may simplify the defense, which could help ease the transition for several young players.
Whisenhunt is looking for the defense to take the pressure off the offense, which has otherwise been solid.
Beanie Wells has rushed for 183 yards and two touchdowns, averaging 5.7 yards per carry, while Kevin Kolb has thrown for 560 yards passing over his first two games. He has four touchdowns and one interception.
While Kolb could have a big game against a Seahawks defense that has given up 437 passing yards and yet to force a turnover, Wells could have difficulty on the ground. Seattle is surrendering 3.1 yards per carry, which is fifth-best in the league.
That may be the only thing the Seahawks (0-2) have to be pleased about after the first two weeks. Seattle followed up its 33-17 season-opening loss at San Francisco with a 24-0 defeat Pittsburgh, finishing with 164 total yards and has been outscored 33-0 in the first half of its games.
While turnovers were not a problem against the Steelers, the running game was. The Seahawks were held to 33 rushing yards by Pittsburgh, rank last in the league with 47.5 per game and Marshawn Lynch has 44 yards on 19 carries.
"We need more explosive plays, we need more plays down field," quarterback Tarvaris Jackson told the Seahawks' official website. "We need to get our running game going. If we get our running game going it will help with those explosive plays."
Jackson could have Sidney Rice available after he missed the first two weeks with a shoulder injury. Rice had 17 catches for 280 yards last season with the Minnesota Vikings as Jackson's teammate after amassing a career-high 1,312 receiving yards in 2009.
However, the team will be without veteran guard Robert Gallery, who needs groin surgery and will miss at least a month. The Seahawks will go with Paul McQuistan at guard instead of moving rookie right tackle James Carpenter.
"There's a challenge to everybody on this team right now, myself included, that we have to find ways to improve our performance and we all have to work at it really hard," coach Pete Carroll. "We all have to fight to find ways to make us better and compete like crazy to do that."
Seattle won both meetings with Arizona last season en route to a division title.
Cardinals-Seahawks: 10 observations
After breaking down film of both teams, Scouts Inc. offers 10 things to watch in this week's Cardinals-Seahawks matchup.
1. Cardinals need to gain positive yards on early downs: The Cardinals are a lot more effective when playing from a lead and running the ball effectively on first and second downs. They have one of the most explosive receivers in the NFL with Larry Fitzgerald but quarterback Kevin Kolb is a lot more effective when teams are forced to honor the run, leaving the defense vulnerable to the play-action fake.
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|Avg Points Allowed||18.7||22.3|
Team Averages & NFL Ranks
|TEAM OFFENSE||TEAM||PER GAME AVERAGE|
|TEAM DEFENSE||TEAM||PER GAME AVERAGE|
|Pass Yds Allowed||ARI|
|Rush Yds Allowed||ARI|
Head to Head Matchups (Since 2001)
|Seattle leads 11-9|
|Nov 14, 2010||ARI 18, SEA 36|
|Oct 24, 2010||ARI 10, @SEA 22|
|Nov 15, 2009||ARI 31, SEA 20|
|Oct 18, 2009||ARI 27, @SEA 3|
|Dec 28, 2008||ARI 34, SEA 21|
|Nov 16, 2008||ARI 26, @SEA 20|
|Dec 9, 2007||ARI 21, @SEA 42|
|Sep 16, 2007||ARI 23, SEA 20|
|Dec 10, 2006||ARI 27, SEA 21|
|Sep 17, 2006||ARI 10, @SEA 21|
|Nov 6, 2005||ARI 19, SEA 33|
|Sep 25, 2005||ARI 12, @SEA 37|
|Dec 26, 2004||ARI 21, @SEA 24|
|Oct 24, 2004||ARI 25, SEA 17|
|Dec 21, 2003||ARI 10, @SEA 28|
|Sep 14, 2003||ARI 0, SEA 38|
|Nov 10, 2002||ARI 6, SEA 27|
|Sep 15, 2002||ARI 24, @SEA 13|