I’m generally not a superstitious person. Jinxes don’t matter to me, and usually it’s tough to string one happening as foretelling another. But as I gathered my things outside of the meal room Sunday morning with my back to the entrance, I felt someone come up from behind and drop something in my pocket. By the time I looked behind me, Larry Fitzgerald was already several steps beyond me, apparently never breaking stride. I reached in to my pocket and found the three quarters and a penny Fitz, for some reason, decided to leave with me.
Again, it was just a random act. But I have to admit it left me with a sense of confidence for that day’s game, both for Fitz’s play and the outcome overall. Obviously, by the end of the afternoon, it became an important 76 cents, at least in my brain.
Every question the Cardinals have been asking themselves (or had barked to them by outside sources) was answered in the 41-21 win. Kurt Warner’s rebound game? Check, with emphasis, thanks to five TD passes. A running game? Check. 31 rush attempts, 149 yards in 28 attempts between Tim Hightower and Beanie Wells, with a tricky fake-end-around-to-a-delayed-end-around picking up 25 yards on the ground too. Defensively, the Cards did enough, sacking Jay Cutler four times and overcoming a bumpy early fourth quarter.
As for specific impressions:
– The offensive line has taken its share of hits this season so the props start with that unit. The protection was very good and when you run for 182 yards (and average 5.9 yards a carry overall), that’s a game that lands on the group’s permanent highlight tape.
– I’m checking on the last time the Cards had two different tight ends with touchdowns in the same game, but to see Warner hit both Anthony Becht and Ben Patrick for scores was important. Neither was the initial target – Warner found both after his first reads weren’t there – but they made the plays. It’s going to be difficult for Stephen Spach to get back on the field, methinks.
– The Cards enjoyed the win. But the message even in the postgame locker room – whether it was on their own or sparked by Whisenhunt’s longer-than-usual postgame speech to the team – was that it was time to go home and win against the Seahawks. “If we can play with the same intensity that we play on the road, we’ll be a tough team to deal with,” Fitzgerald said. “But now we have to go home and protect the nest.”
– It was very obvious in the locker room afterward Anquan Boldin was ticked off for being inactive and told reporters he wasn’t happy he wasn’t given the heads-up before it went down. I’ll admit I thought, watching him in warm-ups, Boldin would play. But with a 20-point win, Whisenhunt made the right call, and now, it’s hard to believe he won’t be in good shape to go against Seattle next weekend. I’d expect Q to be angry but I’m guessing Whisenhunt expected it too. He wasn’t going to sit unless someone made him. It’s not in Q’s DNA.
I can understand his frustration though. In the six games Boldin has missed since the beginning of last season, the Cards have won five of the games. Fitzgerald has averaged six receptions for 108 yards in those games, scoring nine touchdowns.
– I thought for sure Antrel Rolle had come up with a shoulda-downed-it-oh-wait-he’s-gonna-score-a-TD-and-be-ESPN’s-top-highlight return on the blocked field goal. The man is amazing when he gets a little bit of space to work with. He should have had an interception late that he would have returned for a score too. Not sure how he dropped it.
– I find it tough to believe Deuce Lutui had nothing to do with the reason Tommie Harris decided to slug him, but Harris has to keep his cool.
– Not the best day for Adrian Wilson, who was trying to cover Bears tight end Greg Olsen on all three touchdown catches. But what’s the cliché? It’s always easier to correct mistakes after a win.
– Fitz moves up: Fitzgerald now has 482 career receptions, passing Jackie Smith (480) for fifth in franchise history right behind Frank Sanders (493). His 100-yard game was his 22nd, three behind Boldin for most all-time in franchise history. And his 6,607 receiving yards sixth all-time, passing Sanders Sunday and leving him behind Mel Gray’s 6,644.
– On the very first TD pass to Fitz, Hightower did a great job on the blitz pickup. And that’s why Hightower still gets all those snaps, although Beanie did get a few more pass plays Sunday. Oh, and he delivered another great stiff arm too – kind of like the Cards did, metaphorically, to the Bears. Right?
Tags: Adrian Wilson, Anquan Boldin, Anthony Becht, Antrel Rolle, Beanie Wells, Bears, Ben Patrick, Deuce Lutui, Jay Cutler, Ken Whisenhunt, Larry Fitzgerald, offensive line, Stephen Spach, Tim Hightower
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