Well, it’s been a while since the aftermath was after a win, and not aftermath of a disaster. More to write, but in a good way.
The Cardinals get their first-ever win against the Broncos (0-7-1 in eight previous all-time meetings) and do it in style, ramping up to their greatest margin of victory since the 1993 squad beat up on the Redskins, 36-6, Oct. 17 at Sun Devil Stadium (Pfft, Cards kicker Greg Davis only had 10 points that day. Slacker).
Speaking of story-of-the-day Jay Feely, I wrote in this space last week his Pro Bowl-type year was going to be hurt by the Cards’ record and his lack of opportunities. Then he boots five field goals and he runs in a touchdown that I’d expect will get lots and lots of replays on highlight shows. Maybe he’ll get the boost he deserves.
— In fact, if he had made a 49-yarder that turned out to be his second miss of the season, he’d have six field goals today and would have set the NFL record for points in a game for a kicker. As it was, Feely had 25, one shy of Rob Bironas’ big 2007 game of eight field goals and two extra points. Hope you had Feely as your fantasy kicker.
— Whisenhunt, by the way, took the blame for Feely’s miss. The Cards weren’t going to try a 49-yarder, choosing to play the field position game. The Cards were called for a delay, the Broncos decided to decline the extra five yards, and suddenly, Whiz changed his mind. Although he hadn’t warned Feely he might.
“I, as a knucklehead, didn’t give Jay the heads-up. So I kind of iced my own kicker on that one,” Whisenhunt admitted.
Feely blamed himself, and also admitted he’d probably think more about the one he missed rather than the five he made.
— Tim Hightower benefitted because of Beanie Wells’ gastrointestinal distress, which is why Beanie disappeared from Sunday’s game. Hightower fumbled – again – and was benched for LaRod Stephens-Howling for a series. Then the Hyphen was battered around enough on five straight touches (plus another negated on a penalty) that Hightower had to go back in.
From that point – about 10 minutes left – Hightower ran for 97 yards and two touchdowns, and once again showed some of the fortitude that makes him a Whisenhunt favorite.
“How I evaluate pros is how they respond,” Whisenhunt said. “That was a poor situation to have a fumble in. We took him out for a couple plays, that’s never easy. When he got back in, he responded. One of the things that’s most rewarding about this job is when you see a player respond the way Tim did.”
— On Skelton’s nine-yard scramble where he took on the Denver DB, Hightower crushed Broncos safety David Bruton in pass protection. Drove him right to the ground on the block like he was in MMA or something.
— If the defense could have only played like this all season. It made play after play Sunday. Safety Kerry Rhodes continues to be a playmaker — the guy is always around the ball — and that was one of Adrian Wilson’s better games this season.
— I mean, not only have we seen it over and over around the NFL, you watched your own teammate, Steve Breaston, strip a Ram from behind on a sure touchdown. Washington should have had his perfect rookie moment on the day he got back into the starting lineup. Instead, ugh (although a win, and Darnell Dockett, made it not so bad).
— Speaking of ugh-ly, center Lyle Sendlein’s back-to-back snaps at the end of the first half. Neither made it anywhere. Turns out Sendlein’s right thumb was shredded and he was bleeding so much – along with a bad thumb – that he couldn’t grip the ball. Sendlein sounded embarrassed afterward.
“I don’t know how it did it,” Sendlein said. “I just cut it, and I should’ve come out because I couldn’t grip the ball or feel the ball. It was a selfish mistake. … I don’t know, couldn’t even feel it, so … I shouldn’t even have been in there.”
— Apropos of nothing, that video of the Metrodome roof collapsing was some scary stuff. It’s not so much the snow falling in but turn up the sound and listen to the rumble while watching the roof sag before it gives. Yikes.
— Tackle Jeremy Bridges has now started 10 games – regular- and post-season — for the Cards since returning to the team at the beginning of 2009. In those 10 starts, the Cardinals have rushed for at least 100 yards in eight of those games.
— The Cardinals set the franchise record for most return TDs in a season with nine. They broke the NFL record for most fumbles returned for scores: Six, thanks to Dockett jumping on Washington’s mistake.
— Finally, thank goodness Larry Fitzgerald’s first catch was negated. That would’ve been a lousy way for him to set the record. But, like everything else Sunday, the Fitz story turned out OK. For one week, that was nice.
Tags: Adrian Wilson, Beanie Wells, Broncos, Darnell Dockett, Daryl Washington, Jay Feely, Jeremy Bridges, Ken Whisenhunt, Kerry Rhodes, LaRod Stephens-Howling, Larry Fitzgerald, Lyle Sendlein, Tim Hightower
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