Giants aftermath

Posted by Darren Urban on October 26, 2009 – 4:45 am

I’m writing this at 30,000 feet or so, flying somewhere high above the U.S., at around 1:45 a.m. Phoenix time. And let me state the obvious – while these red-eye flights home aren’t the best, they are much, much easier to take with a victory in the back pocket.

I’ve been covering the Cardinals full-time since 2000, and I can’t remember – and this includes last year’s playoff run – a time when the confidence felt more all-encompassing than it does right now. That’s why they could overcome some of the bad breaks in New York. They believe. You want to talk about a culture change in the franchise, that’s one major tell right there.

I mean, they’re 3-0 on the road. I remember sitting in the bowels of the Georgia Dome in 2006, after the Cards had been nailed for a 32-10 defeat and Denny Green had handed over the keys to the car to Matt Leinart and benching Kurt Warner (that alone just tells you how far this team has come). I did the math and figured that was the 50th road game I had covered as a beat writer. The Cardinals had lost 41 of them.

Indeed, the Cards are a long way from that era.

As for the immediate Giants’ aftermath:

— I’m sure I will get a bunch of e-mails on the subject, but yes, it certainly feels like there was a running back changing of the guard Sunday night. Beanie Wells only had 14 carries, but he averaged 4.8 yards a carry. The fumbling for the backs remains a concern – one each for Wells and Tim Hightower – but I’d be surprised if Beanie doesn’t get the majority of the carries now, with Hightower the receiving and short-yardage back.

All Beanie could say Sunday was how it was fun. No, it’s not eloquent. But it crystallizes his thoughts.

— The Cardinals have to hope the ankle injury to Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie isn’t too serious. They may not absolutely need him this game, not with the Panthers struggling and possibly benching quarterback Jake Delhomme. But they need DRC and his playmaking abilities.

— The defense still hasn’t allowed a touchdown in the first quarter this season (only three field goals) and hasn’t allowed a first-quarter point in four straight games.

— You see the impact being made by Alan Branch and Calais Campbell and you have to have optimism for the future on the defensive line. Campbell has played so well the loss of Antonio Smith hasn’t been felt at all. As for Branch, I mean, this was a guy who many had written off, so for him to be this productive is just extra.

— Warner wasn’t bad Sunday, not by a long shot. But when it was over, I couldn’t help but think of the comments he made in training camp when he talked about often feeling last year that the Cards didn’t have a chance unless he played really well, and that he hoped the team would reach a point where it could win even if he had an off night. In my mind, I think that’s exactly what happened Sunday. Warner wasn’t off, per se, but he didn’t seem super sharp (the Giants’ pass rush will do that) and his teammates picked him up.

— The Giants had won 15 straight games when leading at halftime. That’s over.

— Unbelievable to me that Adrian Wilson had one of his biggest games – a pick, a fumble recovery, and another near pick – despite cramps. The secondary was banged up and scrambling at the end. By the way, Bryant McFadden didn’t have a gaudy stat, but I thought he played his best game of the year, especially with the defensive backfield leaning on him after DRC went out.

— Finally, a humorous anecdote. Apparently, some small critter raced across the field during the game, which, according to Beanie, scared fellow running back Jason Wright. “He hopped in my arms like a little girl,” Wells said with a smile. “It was the funniest thing I’ve seen in my life.” Wright, getting dressed next to Beanie in the cramped visitors’ locker room laughed but emphasized that because Beanie blabbed to reporters, “You’re gonna pay for that.”

Heck, Wright could afford to laugh it off. He scored what turned out to be the game-winning touchdown.


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23 Responses to “Giants aftermath”

  1. By William Lutz on Oct 26, 2009 | Reply

    It was truly an amazing game last night. The intensity of the defense was stout all night long and the more balanced play calling was nice to see. I have this gut feeling that this team is turning more and more to what Ken Whisenhunt wants it to be; a physically dominating, balanced team. I also noticed that there seem to be fewer penalties that caused major concerns (the chop block hurt though). Also, the play of some individuals was amazing. Alan Branch and Darnell Dockett just flat out brought it. Adrian Wilson was unleashed the whole game (that hasn’t happened in a long time, it seems) and Ben Graham might be the best punter in the league.

  2. By Ottis Anderson Fan on Oct 26, 2009 | Reply

    What a great signature win for the Cardinals – in prime-time and on the east coast against a very strong New York team. It wasn’t easy and it wasn’t always pretty, but the Cards never caved into the pressure when the ball didn’t bounce their way. The defensive intensity was at 110% for the entire game with no letdowns.

    My gameball goes to Adrian Wilson, with Beanie Wells and Alan Branch getting a big thumbs up as well. To win in such an environment with the nation watching can only serve to further build the confidence an attitude of a team that is starting to fire on all cylinders and is again looking like the defending NFC Champions. There are still mistakes to be corrected, but that 2009 post season confidence that this team can play with anyone is back.

    GO CARDS!!!

  3. By Matt on Oct 26, 2009 | Reply

    Man, what a great win. I’m always on the edge of my seat during these games, waiting for the Cards to make a big mistake and give the game away, but they really hung tough. Great point about McFadden. This was the first game that I really saw him breaking up passes and being disruptive. Perhaps our CBs were playing a little tighter this game instead of giving the big cushion we’d seen in the first four games? Also, great point about Warner. He had a rough night, completely whiffing on some wide open receivers and opting to throw into traffic. All in all, my only complaint is that the national media (i.e. ESPN and Sportsline) seem to be chalking this up to a Giants’ loss, not a Cardinals’ win, like they did when we beat Carolina in the playoffs. Seems like whenever this team plays some defense, everyone assumes the QB just had an off night. We had Manning on his heels all night! Give us some credit guys.

  4. By Chris on Oct 26, 2009 | Reply

    If you take away the fluke tip-drill The Cards beat the Giants the entire game. Although we walked away with the W, that played reminded me of the Broncos winning touchdown their first game. And Big D (Darren) is right, there were so many “tough” breaks for the Cards in that game but they fought like the season depended on it and came out plaing the best game of the year, which includes the mistakes (dropped INTs, fumbles, etc). We have a scary team when we play like that.

  5. By Eric on Oct 26, 2009 | Reply


    Great road win, great national TV showing, all-around great performance by this Cardinals team! I haven’t been this proud of my team since the Super Bowl! Great job!

  6. By ryan on Oct 26, 2009 | Reply

    what a great game by the defense! Darren, any word on DRC’s ankle and how long he might be out?

  7. By darrenurban on Oct 26, 2009 | Reply

    Ryan —

    Coach Whiz will talk later today but I expect the exact same situation as Anquan and his ankle — they won’t be sure, it’ll be day-to-day, likely a game-time decision each week. Again, judging by Anquan, DRC may be able to return in a week, but won’t be 100 percent. They had to pull back on Boldin last week, and with a cornerback, I would think he’s even more important to be healthy because he can’t dictate where he is running. You don’t want him limping when he’s forced 1-on-1 deep on a go pattern.

  8. By Dan Loerch on Oct 26, 2009 | Reply

    Darren, thanks as always for your work. The details you add to what I already know increase my appreciation for this team.

  9. By darrenurban on Oct 26, 2009 | Reply

    Dan —

    The props are always appreciated. Thanks.

  10. By nor cal cards fan on Oct 26, 2009 | Reply

    We just went to New York for a sunday night prime time game and punched the mighty Giants in the mouth in front of the whole country! We ran the ball effectively and our d- line and o-line dominated the line of scrimmage.Thats the smash mouth Steeler type foootball that i bet Coach Whiz has been waiting to unleash on somebody.Great insight as usual Urb, thanks for the good work! Oh by the way that was a nice little cameo you made on camera during Kurt’s post game presser lol. Go Cards, lets keep it rolling!

  11. By Ottis Anderson Fan on Oct 26, 2009 | Reply

    I must say I was very happy with the call of the game by Al Michaels and Chris Collinsworth. They called it pretty much down the middle and gave credit where credit was due. All too often, broadcasters can get too enamored with the big market teams like New York and Dallas (in part because they always play in prime time), but the Cards made sure that didn’t happen Sunday night.

    A good point that Al pointed out was when he referenced a discussion he had with Coach Whiz about firing Clancy Pendergast. Michaels reported that Whiz told him he knew first hand the kind of intensity Dick LeBeau’s defense in Pittsburgh played with and said he just wasn’t getting that in Arizona, and hence the change in defensive coordinators.

    Michaels also pointed out the use of two-tight end sets by the Cardinals that resembled more of what Pittsburgh does than what the Cardinals have done in recent history. Watching TEs Becht and Patrick line up on the same side was great to see. I thought the play calling was a little bit to pass-orientated in the first half, but you could see that change a bit in the second half after Beanie’s TD run and increasingly solid play.

    Here’s to keeping the pedal to the metal on D and growing trust in Beanie! I don’t think the Cardinals have had a bruising running back like Beanie since Ottis Anderson.

  12. By Eazy E on Oct 26, 2009 | Reply

    Yea that was a great game! Warner didnt have his best game but he was definately solid. Beanie looked explosive and violent. Larry did his thing, Quan played like a warrior and Breaston played. The O-Line played extremely well, Gandy, Wells, Sendlein, Lutui, Brown, And Bridges did a great job. Defense played super good. Calais is making plays(sack, deflected ball led to wilson pick), B-Rob played the run as usual well, Alan Branch beasted 2 sacks WOW!!! Dockett as usual played well he drew double sometimes triple teams. Dansby and Hayes looked good all over the field. Hagg, Berry, and Okeafor played well rushed the passer pretty good. The secondary was shut-down, I agree with darren, mcfadden’s best game he balled. Drc played a shut-down game. Antrel and Adrian played pro bowl games. Big win by the cards.

  13. By Joe on Oct 26, 2009 | Reply

    This is like when we took down the Cowboys last year.

  14. By Mike on Oct 26, 2009 | Reply

    I couldnt help but notice a passing aspect in the last few games and im wondering what your take is. It seems that most of this season there havent been a whole lot of passes that are thrown up for our great receivers to jump up for and make big plays. The only game ive really noticed that happening was in seattle which i was able to attend and both Fitz and Breaston made some great high catches. This seemed to be such a huge part of the post season success last year as well as working great this year. Do you think these kinds of throws will be worked in more… and do you feel they are more successful or just more noticeable?

  15. By darrenurban on Oct 26, 2009 | Reply

    Mike —

    I think there is always a risk/reward to those kinds of plays. You’re not the first one to notice the Cards aren’t doing that as much, but I think it’s a function of both pass protection and defenses doing a better job not allowing deep one-on-one coverage. I think the Cards are happy with how the offense is going right now, especially working Beanie into the mix.

  16. By William C. on Oct 26, 2009 | Reply

    Well, a win next week, an almost sure 49ers loss… We’d be 5-2, they’re 3-4…That’s a pretty nice grasp on the division through 8 weeks. We have a great Nov. schedule.

  17. By Doris K on Oct 26, 2009 | Reply

    I’m a Kurt Warner fan from his home state of Iowa, and have followed his career for many years. I was on the edge of my seat all during the game! Kurt has to be sooooo happy today with this great win against his former team–and I’m happy for him. I realize his game wasn’t what he is capable of, but the offensive line and the defense really stepped up and finally showed what they’re capable of!

  18. By TucsonTim on Oct 26, 2009 | Reply

    Did we see the birth of a power running game last night? How much fun was that. Is Beanie explosive or what! The fumbles will go away as the backs get the carries. They’re big boys; they know what to do.

    Thanks for keeping us informed!

  19. By Cardinals in Surprise on Oct 26, 2009 | Reply

    Loved the game and couldn’t wait to read your feedback after work today, Darren. The Cardinals stepped up on the big stage and showed the world they are a legitimate team.

    It would be nice if people stopped referring to Whiz’s style of coaching as Steelers coaching. Rather, just Whiz coaching, he has earned this. This is “Whiz football”, “Cardinal Football”. Whiz climbed out of the shadows of Cowher (for sometime now) and deserves to stand alone as a premier Coach in this league. To be accurate, even the Steelers don’t play Cowher/Whiz football any longer, they have transformed too. Give Whiz his props and let’s refer to this as Cardinal Football from now on.

  20. By Big Red on Oct 26, 2009 | Reply

    Thank You, Cardinals really enjoyed the Game. May God protect all you guys.

  21. By cyneajade on Oct 27, 2009 | Reply

    Did anyone else notice the *at least* 10 false starts by the Giants’ center? He jerked his left arm pre-snap at least 10 times that I could see, including on both of the offsides that got them from 3rd and 12 down to 3rd and 2. Never once did the refs call it!

  22. By Red in Beijing on Oct 27, 2009 | Reply

    I can’t believe that I took a Monday morning off for a regular season game, but there I was at 8:20 in the morning at a sports bar in Beijing, China watching the game with Chinese commentary while all the other patrons were watching the friggin Yankees. And what a delight!! Makes all those Sundays suffering in Sun Devil Stadium and god awful Buddy Ball worthwhile. Am so looking forward to the playoffs in January.. even if I have to get up at 4am in the morning. FYI, the Cards in Chinese are “Ya Li San Na (Arizona) Hong Que (Cardinals)”

  23. By bigredmachine75 on Oct 28, 2009 | Reply

    That game made me so nervous because I knew just how important this game could and did help give our team an identity, a toughness on the road that had been missing for years. We always had some great defenses with a lack luster offense and vice versa but now since the Whiz/Grimm era has begun I feel more confident on every Sunday, most importantly I believe we can win every game! No more bad team jokes, no more humiliating losses for all to watch; you can’t play us anymore to get out of a rut or slump. I really want the Cards to show mercy when possible e.g. the Seattle game but also I want them to destroy and unleash hell on those that beat up on us for decades. I still have the NE and NY J game in my head. I love those boyz from the desert!

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