Thomas knows Arizona is better this time

December, 22, 2013
12/22/13
8:00
AM ET
RENTON, Wash. -- Seattle Seahawks free safety Earl Thomas knows the Arizona offense he will see Sunday is much better than the one he saw two months ago in the 34-22 Seahawks’ victory on the road.

Thomas said the biggest difference is the improvement in quarterback Carson Palmer.

“He’s just gotten more familiar with the offense,” Thomas said. “He’s playing at his peak right now, and their offense is doing some intricate details they didn’t do the first time we played them.”

Thomas
Palmer completed only 10 of 20 passes and had two interceptions in Week 7 against the Seahawks. But he was under constant pressure from the Seattle pass-rushers, who sacked him seven times.

The offensive line has improved for the Cardinals over the past two months and given Palmer more time to throw. Arizona has won six of its past seven games since the Seattle loss, improving to 9-5, and the better blocking up front has led to some big plays from receivers Larry Fitzgerald and Michael Floyd.

But stopping big plays is what the Seattle defense does best. The NFL categorizes it as explosive plays or GAP -- game altering plays. It’s any pass of 16 yards or more, and any run of 12 yards or more.

“I pay attention to the explosives,” said Thomas, when asked which defensive statistic is most important to him. “That’s my job as the free safety. I want to be the best in the league at stopping those.”

The Seahawks are No 1 in fewest GAPs allowed this season with 76. And they easily are the league best in passing explosives, having allowed only 47 in 14 games.

Seattle leads the league in interceptions with 22, but the Seahawks also lead the NFL with 13 interceptions on passes outside the numbers. Seattle has allowed only five touchdown passes this season on throws outside the numbers.

Terry Blount

ESPN Seattle Seahawks reporter

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