Russell Wilson and Marshawn Lynch present a “great challenge” for Cardinals defense

TEMPE, Ariz. — Rookie running back Thomas Rawls might be leading the Seahawks in rushing (by one yard over Marshawn Lynch), but don’t be mistaken: The Cardinals know everything Seattle does offensively, outside of quarterback Russell Wilson, goes through Lynch.

“Oh he’s (Lynch) pretty good, he’s Beast Mode,” Arizona running back Chris Johnson said. “He got that name for a reason. Every time he’s out there, he gives it his all, and he makes plays.”

Johnson has played in Seattle quite a few times in his career, with perhaps his biggest game coming there on Jan. 3, 2010, when he was a member of the Titans. On that day, Johnson eclipsed the 2,000 yard barrier at then-Qwest Field, rushing for 134 yards and two touchdowns on 36 carries.

Lynch wasn’t with the Seahawks at the time, but that didn’t keep Johnson’s focus off what was at stake: joining the 2,000 yard club.

Johnson knows he’ll have to step his game up even more on Sunday night at CenturyLink Field with Lynch just raring and ready to batter his defense and beat him in the battle of the running backs.

“You always know playing against that caliber of guys, anytime you’re playing against Marshawn Lynch, (Vikings running back) Adrian Peterson, those type of guys, you know it’s always an inside thing when you’re competing against them,” Johnson said. “You want to have a better day than those guys, but at the end of the day, it’s not a me versus him thing. We want to get this win, so that’s the most important thing.”

Anyone who’s anyone knows how tough it is to bring Lynch down, especially when he gets his engines revved up and he’s heading downhill.

Cornerback Jerraud Powers says the key to containing Lynch is that you have to have a “want to” do it, and not just go through the motions when you square up with him.

“He’s (Lynch) not going to try and juke you, he’s not going to try do any of those things. He’s going to try and run through you. That’s what type of (running) back he is,” Powers said. “I think a lot of guys that face him kind of go in a little timid, a little scared almost when you face guys like him. For us, our defense, and us personally, it’s gotta be a want to, like you gotta want to go and tackle Marshawn, because if you don’t go in there and tackle him, he’s going to embarrass you on national TV. He’s done it to a lot of people in his career, and you don’t want to be that guy.”

“They’re (Seahawks) not going to try to trick you with anything they do on offense. You’re gonna know what’s coming, just like they’re gonna know what we’re gonna be in on defense,” Powers said. “That’s just the type of game this is. It’s gonna be a smash mouth game, and whoever is the most physical is usually the one that wins at the end.”

The problem in defending the Seahawks is that you can’t rest on your laurels if you do happen to slow down Rawls and Lynch, because you still have to account for No. 3. Wilson is always a threat to beat you with his legs (just look back at the Sunday night game late last year in Glendale, Ariz., when Wilson had 88 yards rushing on Arizona’s defense).

“That’s the other element he (Wilson) adds to their offense,” cornerback/safety Tyrann Mathieu said. “It’s explosive because most guys, they don’t stay in coverage downfield, or they let him escape the pocket and run for 30 yards. Whoever’s containing him has to contain, and whoever’s the deepest safety has to stay (as) deep as everybody.”

“When we have opportunities to sack him (Wilson) we have to get him on the ground,” Mathieu said. “When he does escape the pocket, and run around for a little bit, us on the back end, we have to stay tight in coverage. It’ll be a great challenge for the front end and the back end.”

What makes Wilson so dangerous, outside of his physical abilities, is his “opportunistic” attitude, as defensive end Calais Campbell says.

“He’s (Wilson) (always) looking for opportunities. He always keeps his eyes downfield, he scrambles around, he’s a tough tackle, he has a great center of gravity, and he’ll hurt you throwing the ball deep, especially when they (secondary) have to cover for five or six seconds,” Campbell said. “We have to get to him (and) make him uncomfortable, but we have to be precise in our rush lanes. We can’t give him avenues and lanes to run down.”

“It’s a tough challenge for the (defensive) line,” Campbell said. “This game is going to be won up front though. For us to do it, we gotta do it up front. Our front seven is going to have to play real good football, real disciplined football, because Russell Wilson is a great player, and if you let him, he’ll beat you 100-percent of the time.”

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