Cardinals defensive end Calais Campbell: ‘This is the best defense I’ve played on’

Dec 23, 2013, 1:31 AM | Updated: 1:31 am

Arizona Cardinals defensive end Calais Campbell is one of the few players on the current 53-man roster who was on the team that last won in Seattle back in Oct. 2009.

Three bitter losses later, including a 58-0 drubbing last season, had all but wiped away the memories of the Cardinals’ past success in the Emerald City.

But being a part of the 2009 squad, Campbell knew that the feat could be achieved. The recipe was simple. To fight the elements, the crowd and one of the league’s most-talented teams, the Cardinals’ defense had to hit the Seahawks in the mouth for all 60 minutes.

And Sunday, that’s exactly what they did.

In Arizona’s stunning 17-10 comeback victory, Campbell and Co. were the aggressors, sacking Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson four times, while also holding him to a career-low 40.7 completion percentage and a career-low 108 yards. Not to mention, Todd Bowles’ unit also corralled running back Marshawn Lynch to the tune of just 71 yards on the ground.

“We’ve fought a lot of battles over the year, but this was probably the sweetest,” Campbell said. “Nobody gave us a chance. Nobody thought we could win this game. But we knew it in our hearts.

“I saw it in the locker room before we went on the field. Everybody believed it. Everyone made sure it was going to happen. We played great football today. We overcame adversity like you always have to do in football. We just played with our hearts and left it all on the field.”

That belief was evident on the field, as the Cardinals forced seven total 3-and-outs and held the Seahawks to just 49 total yards during the middle quarters.

In addition, Seattle finished the game 2-of-13 on third downs.

“We had a great game plan,” said Campbell. “We tip our hats to our coaches. They put a good game plan together and told us if we just follow the game plan and execute that we’ll win. We did that, and you see the result.

“They’re a good team. You can’t take anything away from them. They have the best record in the NFL for a reason. They’re a great team, but so are we. I don’t think we played our best football, but we are a good team. If we play good football, we can hang with anyone in this league.”

Arizona hung tough with Seattle, despite the fact that quarterback Carson Palmer threw a career-high tying four interceptions, three of which came in the first half.

While the ill-advised throws cost the Cardinals points on multiple occasions, Campbell noted that the majority of them came in the red zone meaning that the Seahawks would had to drive down the length of the field to score.

“We know as a team if we keep them out of the end zone, they can’t win the game,” said Campbell. “All we did was keep playing football. Luckily all those turnovers were in the red zone, so they had a lot of field to drive. Short fields are where things get dangerous.”

Long fields, short fields, it didn’t matter for the Cardinals Sunday.

Arguably the most important sequence of the contest came after a Palmer interception was returned by Malcolm Smith down to the Arizona three-yard line late in the first half.

The Cardinals promptly stuffed Marshawn Lynch on first and second down and forced an incompletion by Wilson on third down. In the end, Seattle came up empty on the red zone possession, as kicker Steve Hauschka followed with a kick off the left uprights.

When asked after the game if his defense proved they were the best unit in the business, Campbell, who finished with a team-high two sacks, wasn’t shy on delivering a bit of praise.

“We consider ourselves the best,’ said Campbell. “I feel like this is the best defense I’ve played on. We just have to go show it every week.”

They certainly did in Week 16.

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