GLENDALE, ARIZ. — Seattle’s rotating defensive front couldn’t have performed much better Thursday against Arizona.
The Seahawks stuffed the Cardinals for 30 rushing yards and eight Seahawks got in on seven sacks of Arizona’s Carson Palmer in Seattle’s 34-22 NFC West Division win.
“We’ve got so much depth there at the defensive end position and especially the D-line,” said Seahawks free safety Earl Thomas. “The crazy thing about it is we take one guy out because he’s tired, another hoss is coming in to get after the QB or stop the run.”
Linebackers Malcolm Smith; defensive ends Cliff Avril, Chris Clemons and Michael Bennett; and defensive tackles Tony McDaniel and Clinton McDonald recorded a sack. Linebacker KJ Wright and defensive end Red Bryant combined on a sack.
Cornerback Brandon Browner credited Seattle’s pass rush for keying its dominating victory.
“They had seven sacks tonight,” he said. “That makes our job easier (in the secondary). That gets the quarterback off the spot, having him hurry the ball out, not throwing with a rhythm. Give a lot of credit to those guys up front for getting those sacks tonight.”
It wasn’t known until just before game time if one of those guys would be able to play.
Clemons hyperextended his elbow last week against Tennessee and did not participate in practices on Monday and Tuesday. On Wednesday he was listed as “questionable” to play against the Cardinals. But he passed pregame tests Thursday, clearing the way for his return.
Sometimes it can take weeks for a player to return from such an injury. Clemons’ teammates weren’t surprised he found his way back to the field.
“We kind of knew it during the week that he would play,” said outside linebacker Bruce Irvin. “He’s a strong guy and he’s going to do what he can to get out there and help out.”
Clemons didn’t take long to make his presence felt.
With Seattle leading 14-0 early in the second quarter and Arizona facing a third-and-9 play from its own 21, Clemons beat left tackle Bradley Sowell off the edge and sacked Carson Palmer for a 9-yard loss.
The pass-rush specialist got to Palmer again late in the third quarter. He blew past Sowell and shoved the lineman toward Palmer, collapsing the pocket with help from Bennett.
Palmer staggered away before falling down for an 8-yard sack.
Clemons finished the game with one sack, one tackle and pressured Palmer at least twice.
Clemons, who will celebrate his 32nd birthday Oct. 30, missed the first two games of the season after having offseason surgery to repair a torn anterior cruciate ligament.