It’s Friday again, and the Cardinals are all about looking forward. Looking back – given the angles of this weekend’s game against the Vikings – doesn’t give a whole lot of warm and fuzzies.
Take last year’s visit from the Vikings, when Adrian Peterson was All Day – 165 yards rushing – and the normally pedestrian Tarvaris Jackson threw for four touchdown passes. The Vikings came to University of Phoenix Stadium the week after the Cards clinched the NFC West title and walked away with a 35-14 win that wasn’t even that close. It was 21-0 before the first quarter was even over. “I don’t remember that game,” safety Adrian Wilson said. “I would rather not talk about that game. The game was over in the first quarter. We didn’t have a chance after the first 10 minutes.”
Then there was the last time the Cards saw Brett Favre. It was better remembered for the game Anquan Boldin nearly lost his face, but in that Jets’ rout Favre threw a career-high six touchdown passes. “I think that was just a bad day all around as far as communication in the secondary and our play all around,” cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie said.
Then there was last week, a heartbreaking loss in Tennessee capped by that 99-yard drive at the end. “You can’t go back and re-live that game,” Wilson said. “We don’t want to continue to hear about it.”
– The big storyline is the Kurt Warner will-he-or-won’t-he guessing game. Fans, friends, even co-workers want to know what I think. I think I don’t know. Wouldn’t put money on it either way and have a hard time even hazarding a guess. I think the expectation is that Warner will start, but that was the expectation last week at this time. The fact Matt Leinart got much more practice time shows the Cards want to hedge their bets this time around, and Leinart will be in a lot better position if he has to play.
I’ve heard the arguments about sitting and keeping Warner fresh and healthy for the 49ers, and I have heard the arguments about getting him in there for a win. To me, this is much more clear cut: If Warner is healthy, he plays. If not, he sits. It’s a concussion, and if Warner doesn’t think he’s ready to play, I wouldn’t want him out there. Don’t lose sight of the fact Warner has now taken his role in the whole concussion discussion within the league very seriously. That may push him to playing it safe. He sees himself as a role model for other players with this issue.
– Minnesota, by the way, has an NFL-best 40 sacks. What a way for Jeremy Bridges to make his debut as a starting left tackle in the NFL.
– These are two of the best defenses on third down in the league. The Vikings are tops, allowing just 32.8 percent conversions. The Cards are third – behind Miami – at 33.1.
– It was disappointing to see Beanie Wells mishandle the pitch last week for a fumble. It was a fixable problem, but one that shouldn’t have happened in the first place. “He just went too steep,” coach Ken Whisenhunt said. “He didn’t go flat enough. The play design was good and it was going to be a big play. But he went downhill too much which shortened the angle of the pitch.”
– Vikings wide receiver Sidney Rice is having a Pro Bowl-quality season, with 56 catches, 964 yards and four touchdowns. Maybe Larry Fitzgerald is to blame. Fitz invited Rice to be part of that “receivers camp” Fitz held in Minnesota this summer. “You know how when you see a friend do something and you are just genuinely happy to see him do it?” Fitzgerald said. “That’s kind of how I feel.”
– Speaking of Fitz, he’s tight with Vikings defensive end Jared Allen, and when I asked him about the difficulty of going up against a friend in a violent sport like football, he just smiled. “(Cornerback) Antoine Winfield and I are close friends, we talk all the time. I want to beat him more than some guy I don’t know because I know what kind of player he is.”
Fitz then broke out his Blackberry to show the back-and-forth texts he and Winfield shared this week.
Fitz: “How u feeling? U want to give it a go this weekend? I need 2 know where I’m at playing against the best in the biz”
Winfield: “What’s up homeboy? I’m going 2 b good 2 go this week. Looking forward to the challenge. Tell my man Beanie watch running the ball to my side. C u out there Sunday.”
“I’ll give it my best, he’ll give it his best and after the game, the numbers don’t lie,” Fitzgerald said. “Bragging rights. And at the club, he’s buying the drinks.”
– The key to this game is getting a lead or staying within a touchdown. If the Cards get zapped early – like against the Vikings last season – it’s going to be tough sledding. But if they hang tight, whether Warner or Leinart is playing, the crowd (which I am sure will have more than a few purple jerseys, unfortunately) will rally to the Cards’ favor.
Somehow, I see Minnesota boy Fitzgerald having a big impact. Hopefully it’s for a couple of touchdowns so he can finally get that regular-season win against his hometown team for which he’s been looking.
Tags: Adrian Peterson, Adrian Wilson, Anquan Boldin, Beanie Wells, Brett Favre, DRC, Jeremy Bridges, Kurt Warner, Larry Fitzgerald, Matt Leinart, Vikings
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