Plays to remember from disruptive Dockett

Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando

TAMPA, Fla. -- We opened this week with a primer on things to know about the Cardinals' defense heading into Super Bowl XLIII.

Clancy Pendergast, the Cardinals' defensive coordinator since 2004, and secondary coach Teryl Austin agreed to look back at memorable plays involving Arizona defenders (1,2).

We continue with Pendergast's reflections on defensive tackle Darnell Dockett:


  • Falcons at Cardinals, Jan. 3, 2009: Dockett disrupted a third-quarter handoff to Michael Turner, leading to a muffed exchange and Antrel Rolle's fumble return for a touchdown. "That was a big, game-changing play," Pendergast said.

  • Cardinals at Bengals, Nov. 18, 2007: "He turned and ran and put a hit on [T.J.] Houshmandzadeh and hurt his hip. It was like a little slot option and the ball came out quick. Darnell does a great job of turning and chasing the football and that is something we preach all the time. He rushed and Houshmandzadeh ran a little option route. Antrel was covering him. Darnell turned and chased, so as soon as he spun back inside, Darnell was right there. He makes great space plays."

  • Cowboys at Cardinals, Oct. 12, 2008: Dockett made multiple big plays in this game. Pendergast singled out an apparent sack and forced fumble on Tony Romo in the end zone. Officials invoked the tuck rule after reviewing the play, but that hardly diminished the quickness and power Dockett displayed in disrupting the play. "They extended the series," Pendergast said, "but that was an impressive rush."

One of the plays I found most memorable: Dockett's fumble-forcing pile drive of a hit on 49ers fullback Zak Keasey in the season opener. Not even fullbacks are built to absorb head-on hits from defensive tackles. Ouch.