Seahawks’ Bruce Irvin has been at his best against Carolina

Jan 15, 2016, 8:00 AM | Updated: 8:46 am
Seahawks linebacker Bruce Irvin has seven sacks in four games against Carolina. (Rod Mar, Seahawks)...
Seahawks linebacker Bruce Irvin has seven sacks in four games against Carolina. (Rod Mar, Seahawks)
(Rod Mar, Seahawks)

RENTON – Seahawks linebacker Bruce Irvin could only offer a guess as to why he’s had so much personal success against the Panthers.

“I don’t know,” he said. “It’s weird because I always play good against Carolina. I don’t know what it is. Maybe it’s because I’m from Atlanta.”

Whatever the reason, Irvin has been at his best against the team that Seattle will face in Sunday’s divisional-round playoff game. Including the playoffs, Irvin has 25.5 sacks in 58 career games. Seven of them have come in four games against the Panthers and their 245-pound quarterback, Cam Newton.

“Cam’s a great athlete. He’s really hard to take down so I really don’t know how I’ve got him down seven times, to be honest with you. Hopefully it could be the same,” Irvin said. “We can go out here and play good defense, make them one-dimensional, and hopefully get to rushing Cam and hopefully I can get a couple more this weekend.”

Irvin missed Seattle’s 2013 season opener against Carolina while serving a four-game suspension. Some of the damage he’s done in the other four games has come in key moments. In 2012, Irvin’s strip-sack on the Panthers’ final play preserved Seattle’s win. He helped put Carolina away last season as well, recording sacks on consecutive plays in the final minute.

Irvin said the Seahawks must be disciplined in rushing Newton Sunday as to not let him escape the pocket. Even if they can’t bring Newton down, Irvin noted that pressure can still be effective.

“With Cam, you want to try to make him one-dimensional. You can’t give him a choice. If you feel like he can beat you with his legs and his arms, then that’s when you’re in trouble,” Irvin said. “But when you get a little pressure on him and make him throw, he has a really strong arm, and typically guys with strong arms feel like they can fit balls into tight windows or into spaces that’s not really there So I feel like if we rush him and stop the run and get him to really try to force throws in, I really think we’re going to have a lot of success against him.”

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Seahawks’ Bruce Irvin has been at his best against Carolina