Just as I sat at my kitchen table a week ago considering the rubble of the last-second loss in Tennessee changing where the Cardinals stood, a week later, a trademark victory for the season once again shifts the landscape.
The Cards’ 30-17 win – one for which the cliché “not as close as the final score indicates” was created – was so important on so many levels. The sting of the Titans’ loss is gone. The fear of other things, like Kurt Warner’s post-concussion deal or how Jeremy Bridges would hold up, that’s gone too.
Just to put this out there: I always thought the Cards would be ready for that Monday night game in San Francisco. If there is a word to describe how the Cards collectively feel about that loss to open the season, it was &*%$@$!, you know, if that was a word. “We owe those guys a little something for what they did to us earlier this year,” safety Adrian Wilson said. Uh, yeah.
But before we move on to the Niners, here are some thoughts on Sunday night:
– Warner said he pretty much knew Friday he was going to be able to play. And boy, did he play. He looked great, picking up where he left off. The only concern was the significant limp he had afterward because he took a shot on that hip. It’ll be very interesting to see how he feels this week, although the Cards don’t practice until Thursday because of the Monday night game, so he has an extra day to heal.
– Scary to see Tim Hightower fumble early. That could have been disaster. But the Cards hung in there, and Hightower almost looked like he was trying to make up for it on that late 32-yard run – the play on which Vikings linebacker E.J. Henderson broke his leg – by trying to barrel into the end zone.
– I was at the Fiesta Bowl between Ohio State and Miami when Willis McGahee blew out his knee and when I watched the play with E.J. Henderson, that was the first thing I thought of.
– Nice to see the Cards bomb away for Larry Fitzgerald. It didn’t work out as often as Fitz would have liked, but it’s obviously something with which the Cards should stick.
– Wilson tried to downplay what the Cards did to Adrian Peterson – “Don’t mistake it. He’s the best back in football, so let’s not get too full of ourselves,” he said – but that was a great showing to control him, especially after what Chris Johnson did to them the week before. The game was close much of Sunday night, so it wasn’t like the Vikings had pass every play. At least at first.
– Brandon Keith got into his first game and actually played for a snap at guard when Deuce Lutui got hurt. Probably not enough of a sample to judge Keith as an o-lineman yet.
– The Cards averaged 4.5 yards a carry again on the ground. The evolution of the ground game may turn out to be the underlying story of the season.
– Special teams continue to be huge. Breaston’s 64-yard punt return was the highlight this time. Special teams coach Kevin Spencer should be (and is) like a proud papa.
– When Fitz fought through six Vikings to turn an eight-yard gain into a 15-yard gain early in the second quarter, that was impressive. By the way, didn’t I say the Minnesota boy was going to play a big role? Eight catches, 143 yards. It’s his 23rd 100-yard game, a few behind Anquan Boldin (who had 98 yards at the half but couldn’t get one more catch to crack 100).
– I absolutely love Antrel Rolle as wildcat quarterback. Rolle was trying to throw deep to Breaston on his one play, but smartly pulled it down and then used his amazing scat-quicks to avoid defenders and gain nine yards on a rush.
– Alan Branch had another nice game. He’s become a force on the line, which, as a unit, has been impressive.
– Four left – at SF, at Detroit, home against the Rams, home against the Packers. 12-4 anyone? It’s possible, after the Cardinals’ greybeard outclassed the Vikings’ greybeard.
Tags: Adrian Peterson, Adrian Wilson, Alan Branch, Anquan Boldin, Antrel Rolle, Brandon Keith, Chris Johnson, E.J. Henderson, Jeremy Bridges, Kevin Spencer, Kurt Warner, Larry Fitzgerald, Steve Breaston, Tim Hightower, Vikings
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