Larry Fitzgerald: Cardinals-Seahawks A “Weird” Matchup

Howard Balzer

Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald said it simply Thursday when talking about the yearly (since 2002) two-game rivalry with Seattle: “It's been weird with the Seahawks.”

It sure has.

First, a history lesson.

The two teams played only six times from 1976, the year the Seahawks entered the NFL as an expansion team, through 1998. The Cardinals won five of those games.

They didn’t play again until realignment in 2002 when the Cardinals departed the NFC East for the NFC West.

From 2002-2011, the year before Russell Wilson became Seattle’s starting quarterback, the Cardinals were 6-4 at home against the Seahawks and 3-7 on the road. Those could be called expected results.

Not so after Wilson’s arrival. That’s where it gets “weird,” according to Fitzgerald.

In the last eight seasons, the only home victory for the Cardinals came in the 2012 season opener, which was Wilson’s NFL debut. Since then, there has been one tie and Seattle has won the other five games in Arizona.

Conversely, the Cardinals are 5-3 in Seattle and have won three of the last four.

As Fitzgerald told reporters Thursday, “We've been winning up there consistently. And they've been kicking our butt at home. I can't think of any other time in my career where that's happened. We would love to play better against them at home.”

What was also “weird” is what Fitzgerald experienced last season in State Farm Stadium.

He said, “I remember last year walking on the field here and some of the (Seahawks) guys were talking about, 'This is a home game for us.' That didn't particularly sit well. When you hear things like that, you always want to protect your home field. And so, we got to play better. We have to play with a level of intensity that we had last Monday. And we got to play and match those guys because they always play with high intensity.”

Back to 2012. After the home win, the Cardinals lost 58-0 to Seattle on Dec. 9. They began the season with a 4-0 record including a Week 2 win in New England, but then lost 11 of their last 12 and then-head coach Ken Whisenhunt was fired.

Bruce Arians became the head coach after the season and what happened in 2013 was remembered by cornerback Patrick Peterson, who was drafted by the Cardinals in 2011, when he was asked Thursday if there was a particular moment in the matchup that is his favorite.

Recalling the big loss in 2012, Peterson talked about getting prepared to play in Seattle late in the season.

He said, “I remember [Arians] was just talking the whole week, just saying, ‘There's a new sheriff in town; we can go there and win if we believe that we can win. The reason why people don't win there is because they don't believe they can win there.’

“In that 2013 season, I felt that we had a different mindset when it was time to go there. And I think that was a turning point for us for every time we play there.”

Since that 58-0 loss, the Cardinals have won five of seven with losses in 2014 and 2018.

Peterson then stated the obvious, as Fitzgerald did, saying, “We got to find a way to turn that around. Because on our home turf, we're 0-6-1 (in the last seven seasons) and that's not a good record protecting the nest. We have to do a better job of protecting the nest and hopefully we can do that starting this week.”

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