With the Seattle Seahawks enjoying their 13-3 victory over the New York Jets, cornerback Josh Wilson’s teammates had not seen him since he had the best game of his young career Sunday – two interceptions and a sack of Brett Favre.
So when Wilson arrived in the meeting room Tuesday morning for film study, defensive backs coach Jim Mora and Wilson’s colleagues in the secondary were giving him grief.
“They are just coaching, and they are going to make comments to make sure that I am not getting too much of a big head by any success,” Wilson said. “Use your wildest imagination to figure out what they said.”
And that was before anybody had learned that Wilson will be named the NFL’s defensive player of the week for his exploits against New York.
Just wait until he gets into the office today.
Wilson’s teammates shouldn’t spend too much time getting on his case, though, because at some point they will have to concentrate on the Arizona Cardinals’ wide receivers, Larry Fitzgerald and Anquan Boldin, who between them have 180 receptions and 2,339 yards.
To put that in perspective, that is only 242 fewer receiving yards than Seattle’s offense has totaled this season.
“Give them credit, they are good players, you can’t take nothing from them,” safety Deon Grant said.
Fitzgerald leads the NFC in receptions with 91. Boldin is second with 89. Both are going to the Pro Bowl.
The last time the teams met, a 26-20 Cardinals victory on Nov. 16, Fitzgerald and Boldin combined for 23 receptions and 337 yards.
“That was terrible,” Grant said. “Terrible.”
Indeed, Cardinals quarterback Kurt Warner, at the time a candidate for the league’s MVP award, was so successful early in the game that coach Ken Whisenhunt called for a pass on 21 of the first 26 plays.
A lot of those throws came against Wilson.
But the Seahawks say it wasn’t all Wilson’s fault. The defensive plan called for a zone, which allowed Arizona’s dynamic duo, as well as third receiver Steve Breaston, to find and exploit holes in the secondary.
Warner started out completing his first seven passes, 15 of his first 16, and 17 of his first 19, with Arizona scoring on its first three possessions to take a 13-0 lead.
“You got to make sure you deliver the punch first and throw them off timing. Kurt is all about timing,” Grant said.
Once the Cardinals took the lead, the Seahawks began playing man-to-man defense and blitzed Warner more often. After his hot start, he was a more pedestrian 15 of 25.
“You see what (the pressure) did to Brett (Favre on Sunday), just getting somebody in his face and not letting him pick us apart,” Grant said. “That is the main thing. If it is a two-man rush, a four-man rush or the blitz package, we have to get somebody in Kurt’s face and not let him get in a rhythm.”
One of the unanswered questions regarding this game is just how seriously the Cardinals will be taking it.
On the one hand, they already have clinched the division, and they certainly don’t want to get anybody injured.
On the other hand, they have lost four of their past five, have dropped their past two by a combined score of 82-21, and they need to get some semblance of continuity back before they head into their first postseason game since 1998, their first home playoff game since 1947.
Regardless, Fitzgerald and Boldin are going to start, which means cornerbacks Kelly Jennings, Marcus Trufant and Wilson will have to be prepared for their size.
Mora said both teams have changed some since their Week 11 encounter, and Jennings and Wilson are playing far better now than they were in that important loss, which essentially cost the Seahawks the division title.
Wilson was not the only player to play well against the Jets. Jennings broke up a deep fourth-quarter, fourth-down pass by Favre that led to Seattle’s game-clinching field goal, which was followed by Wilson’s team-leading fourth interception. Wilson also intercepted Favre in the first half.
“They are looking forward to the challenge, because (Fitzgerald and Boldin) are great players and they took it to us pretty good the first time we played,” Mora said.