• Somers, McManaman talk Cardinals injuries and Eagles

    Somers, McManaman talk Cardinals injuries and Eagles

  • Harold Goodwin talks offensive struggles and getting back to the run game

    Harold Goodwin talks offensive struggles and getting back to the run game

  • Bruce Arians talks about the Las Vegas mass shooting

    Bruce Arians talks about the Las Vegas mass shooting

  • Bruce Arians talks about his QB

    Bruce Arians talks about his QB

  • Monday report: Latest on Arizona Cardinals

    Monday report: Latest on Arizona Cardinals

  • Shot Clock: What we know about Cards, NFL now

    Shot Clock: What we know about Cards, NFL now

  • Somers,  Bickley discuss Cardinals win over 49ers

    Somers, Bickley discuss Cardinals win over 49ers

  • Cardinals discuss win over the 49ers

    Cardinals discuss win over the 49ers

  • Somers and McManaman talk Cardinals injuries

    Somers and McManaman talk Cardinals injuries

  • Deone Bucannon on his return to the field for Cardinals

    Deone Bucannon on his return to the field for Cardinals

  • Somers and McManaman at Cards practice Wednesday

    Somers and McManaman at Cards practice Wednesday

  • Carson Palmer looks ahead to 49ers

    Carson Palmer looks ahead to 49ers

  • Somers and McManaman on the Cardinals following loss to Cowboys

    Somers and McManaman on the Cardinals following loss to Cowboys

  • Arians recaps the Cardinals' loss to the Cowboys

    Arians recaps the Cardinals’ loss to the Cowboys

The great Vince Lombardi knew a thing or two million about football and one of the most critical elements to winning a game, he used to say, was the fine yet brutal art of tackling.

“If a man is running down the street with everything you own, you won’t let him get away. That’s tackling,” Lombardi said.

When it comes to run defense in today’s NFL, almost nobody tackles as well as the Cardinals. Arizona’s defense has snuffed out opposing rushing attacks at an alarming rate and kept some of the league’s very best running backs from even getting a sniff of 100 yards.

Entering Sunday’s game at Lincoln Financial Field against the Eagles, the Cardinals have gone 17 consecutive games without allowing a 100-yard rusher. They’ve also held opponents to fewer than 100 yards rushing as a team in six straight games. Both represent the longest active such streaks in the NFL.

“We take pride in what we do,” Cardinals inside linebacker Karlos Dansby said. “Be consistent. That’s the hardest thing to do is to be consistent in this league. Trying to hold a running back under 100 yards – and an entire team under 100 yards rushing – that’s a hard thing to do. They get paid well.

“But it’s about being relentless and consistent. That’s it. It takes a lot of effort, a lot of preparation in order to be consistent in this league. Especially with something like that. You have to be prideful about stopping the run. And we are, man.”

Since Bruce Arians’ arrival as head coach in 2013, the Cardinals have finished among the league’s Top 10 rushing defenses three times. They led the league that first season, allowing just 84.4 yards per game. They finished sixth overall in 2015 (93.0), ninth last season (94.9) and presently are 10th (88.0).

In 36 games since James Bettcher took over as defensive coordinator for Todd Bowles, the Cardinals have allowed a 100-yard rusher in a game just three times. In that same stretch, Arizona has held opponents to fewer than 100 rushing yards as a team 23 times. Only the Carolina Panthers (24) have held teams under 100 yards overall more times during that same span.

“We’re better. We’re getting better,” Arians said. “We are getting back to where we were.”

Tackling will be a huge priority this week against the Eagles (3-1), who rank third in the league in rushing at 143 yards per game. They’ve gained 407 yards on the ground the past two weeks, including a 136-yard effort by LeGarrette Blount last Sunday during a 26-24 victory over the Chargers.

Bettcher said his defense has to be ready for anything against the Eagles.

CARDINALS 2017 SCHEDULE: Big road test awaits in Philadelphia

“In the run game, they’re going to stretch you, they’re going to zone you and they’re going to pull guys,” he said. “You’re going to have to be great with your eyes. You’re going to have to have really good edges in the run game. If our edge are soft, we’ll have some issues in the run game. If we have great edges, we’ll have a chance to bottle it up and tackle between the tackles.”

At 6 feet, 250 pounds, Blount is built like a runaway beer truck. He doesn’t offer a defense very many good angles to tackle him, Dansby said, and even when he does, he’s constantly churning his legs and moving his feet during the process. It’s easier trying to wrestle a Great Dane into the bathtub.

“Group tackling, man. That’s how we’ve got to do it,” said Cardinals safety Tyvon Branch, who ranks fifth in the league with 39 tackles. “He’s a big guy so you don’t want to put guys in situations where they have to make a one-on-one tackle with him. Everybody just needs to be swarming to the ball.

“He’s a hard-working back. You’ve got to go to work and bring your lunch pail when you play against him.”

Bettcher said Arizona’s run defense has had success because of precise coordination between the linebackers and defensive linemen and the run support help from safeties. The Cardinals, he said, also spent an inordinate amount of time in meetings anticipating exactly how opposing teams will try to run the ball against them and at whom, specifically.

“Understanding those things,” he said, “have allowed us to play fast.”

Dansby is back with the Cardinals for a third time and the 35-year-old said he feels “honored” to be a part of this particular defense, which he says has, “talent all the way across the board.”

“A lot of experience, a lot of skill, a lot of versatility,” he said. “It’s a blessing to be on this defense, man. Especially with the way we stop the run. I mean, they’re trying to break us, we’re trying to snuff them out. We put a lot of emphasis on it; that we have to stop the run in order to give ourselves a chance to win the ballgame.”

Ask Branch which streak by the Cardinals’ run defense is more beneficial – the 17 consecutive games without allowing a 100-yard rusher or the six straight without allowing a team to rush for 100 – and he will say neither, actually.

“What’s most beneficial to us is winning,” Branch said. “Whatever we’ve got to do to win and stop the run and stop the pas, that’s the main goal. Just go out there and win.”

MORE CARDS: Prediction and scouting report for Sunday’s Cardinals-Eagles game

MORE CARDS: Arizona Cardinals offense remains a fixer-upper

MORE CARDS: Arizona Cardinals Q&A with offensive lineman Will Holden

Autoplay

Show Thumbnails

Show Captions

Reach McManaman at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @azbobbymac and listen to him live every Wednesday night between 7-9 on Fox Sports 910-AM on The Freaks with Kenny and Crash.