The season has come to an end for the Arizona Cardinals. They started the year off with a win, and then the roller coaster took its first drop, a nasty six game whirlwind that left many white knuckled. But after the drop, the coaster picked up speed and began the climb back to the heights of winning. During this time, a young defense matured in a new scheme under coach Ray Horton.
This defense took the the field in the game and made numerous plays, although they were beaten for two long touchdown plays. Barring those, the defense stepped up, with a number of exceptional individual efforts. In fact, so many that I had to whittle down the list to make the top five.
Without further fanfare, hit the jump to see my top five defensive plays of the game.
As noted above, there were many individual outstanding efforts. Near interceptions, tackles for loss, field goals blocked. I'm encouraged by this heading into 2012. But as in the Highlander series, there can be only one, (well five in this case) and here there are.
- 13:51/2nd QTR: Daryl Washington, you guys may recognize his name. Pro-bowler in the making. It was early in the second quarter, the Seahawks driving the field, currently at the Cards twenty with a first and ten. At the snap, Washington worked into the backfield, catching Tarvaris Jackson for a four yard sack.
- 11:06/2nd QTR: Clark Haggans gets in on the action here. The Seahawks are sitting on the Card's sixteen yard line. A penalty has the down as first and fifteen. Tarvaris Jackson drops back with the ball and Haggans beats his man off the corner to sack Jackson for an eleven yard loss. This would set up another top five play candidate two plays later.
- 10:00/2nd QTR: Richard Marshall, coach Horton's choice for MVP shows why here. Once again the Seahawks are deep in Cardinal's territory, facing a third and twenty-six from the Arizona twenty-seven. Tarvaris Jackson drops back, looking for Zach Miller. Richard Marshall makes a move on the ball, intercepts in, and then returns forty nine yards to place the Cards in excellent field position.
- 0:00/2nd QTR: Sam Acho. The man was a steal in the draft. Nose for the football, playmaker. Late in the second quarter, the Seahawks have the ball for one last drive before halftime. Facing a third and seven from their own eighteen, Tarvaris Jackson drops back to pass. Sam Acho comes off the corner and catches Jackson's arm as he hits him, forcing a fumble that Jackson recovered, but not before Acho was credited for a six yard sack and forced fumble.
- 14:45/OT: Daryl Washington. This play wasn't a sack or an interception, but might be most important. Overtime, the Seahawks won the coin toss. On the kickoff, they return the ball to their own forty yard line. One the first play from scrimmage, Marshawn Lynch rushes to the right side. Daryl Washington, as he has all game, positioned himself to make a play, stuffing Lynch for a one yard loss. Seattle tried two more incomplete passes after that, and punted the ball to the Cards.