Last week’s three interception performance by the Cardinals defense against 49ers rookie quarterback Alex Smith broke a five game drought for the Cardinals.
Prior to last week’s game the last Cardinals interception came when David Macklin intercepted Billy Volek and returned it 60 yards for a touchdown in the second quarter of the Cardinals week six game vs. Tennessee.
“The overall play last week was good,” said linebacker James Darling. “We got pressure on the quarterback and when we do that we’re able to force people into throwing some bad balls. We made some plays on the ball last week so we’re just trying to keep it going and get more pressure.”
In last week’s victory over San Francisco safety Robert Griffith, cornerback Eric Green and Darling all recorded interceptions. Green’s INT came with 1:54 remaining in the game and iced the Cardinals victory.
“Anytime we can force a turnover and get a short field for the offense then it helps them out,” added Darling. “It’s big and it helps everyone out. For a while in the middle of the season we struggled to get turnovers and whenever we have done that we’ve been winning games.”
In addition to the trio of interceptions the Cardinals defense also sacked Smith three times. Safety Adrian Wilson, defensive tackle Ross Kolodziej and linebacker Karlos Dansby
each sacked Smith to raise the Cardinals season total to 28.0 sacks.
“I think going in we knew were going to be playing against a rookie quarterback and we wanted to make him one dimensional and make him beat us,” offered strong safety Adrian Wilson. “In the second half we came out and made up our minds that we were the better team and a lot of those turnovers happened in the second half.”
The former North Carolina State standout has plagued opposing offenses in the last few weeks and is currently tied for the team lead in sacks with 6.0 along with defensive end Bertrand Berry, who was place on injured reserved November 15. In last week’s game Wilson recorded seven tackles, a sack, forced fumble and fumble recovery. Wilson leads the team in tackles with 91 total tackles.
“I think clearly that is his style of play,” said head coach Dennis Green
on the aggressive performances by Wilson the past few weeks. “I think the closer up to the line he is and the more involved he is. He is a much more effective player when used that way.”
Wilson credits the entire defense for stepping up last week against the 49ers and taking advantage of an inexperienced quarterback.
“I think overall everyone played well,” stated Wilson. “The young guys played well and veterans stepped up.”
The defense will face a huge challenge this weekend when an explosive Redskins offense travels to Arizona. Washington had two backs rush for over 100 yards last weekend in their victory over St. Louis.
“It’s going to be really important to stop the run early,” confirmed Wilson. “Clinton Portis is a very explosive back. They have a very good offensive line and like any other team in the league we just have to come out and play hard and try to force them to be one dimensional.”
Although the Cardinals are not thinking about playoffs, they will continue to fight for the remainder of the season.
“Guys are just wanting to step up and they’re playing for respect,” said Darling. “We’re just trying to get better and be professionals and I think just by doing that we are starting to get better. We’re not feeling sorry for ourselves, we are just out there playing and it is showing.”