Tim Hightower had one of those smiles, one of those Sure-I’m-happy-but-I-know-better-than-to-be-too-happy looks.
“We won,” the Cardinals’ running back said. “At the end of the day, you want to play better and we’ve got to play better, but in this league when you get wins, we appreciate it, thank God for it, learn from it, and move on.”
That’s probably the best way to view Sunday’s 28-21 win over the Texans. Fans didn’t get cheated in terms of having their heart tested; they got 21 points (and what should’ve been 28) in the first half, and then, just when those hearts may have been ripped out, they got DRC’s Pick-6 and a goal-line stand. Whew. But here we are, Sunday night, and the Cards are right where they hoped they’d be when the day dawned. They are 2-2, the 49ers were run out of Candlestick Park (is that what they are still calling it?) by the Falcons, and the Cards are back to controlling their own destiny starting with a trip to Seattle next weekend.
“It’s gonna be a helluva week this week at practice because this is personal between us and Seattle,” defensive end Darnell Dockett said. “We know for a fact we’ll get their best shot and I’ll probably send Matt Hasselbeck a Twitter message later this week, so stay tuned.”
But first, cleaning up some thoughts from the Houston game:
— The good, obviously, was what the defense did at the end of the game, both with the DRC interception and prevention of the final touchdown. It would have felt a lot better had the unit not surrendered TDs on three straight possessions, but coach Ken Whisenhunt talked afterward about how his team responded to the change in momentum and Rodgers-Cromartie was even more specific.
“Being up 21 points at the half, coming back and giving up three touchdowns you kind of think, ‘Oh snap.’ You want to hit the panic button,” DRC said. “Our captains, Darnell and Adrian (Wilson) came up and were like, ‘Don’t panic just yet. It’s still 0-0.’ That stuck with me.”
Did it lead to the interception? Who knows? DRC clearly felt like he got a little something back after all the slings and arrows he had endured following his less-than-memorable Colts’ game.
— That last goal-line stand wasn’t the only stand the defense made. Remember the key one early in the third quarter, in which the Texans had a second-and-1 on the Arizona 22 and the defense held up as follows: Stuff Steve Slaton for no gain, stuff Steve Slaton for no game, force a bad deep pass to Andre Johnson that DRC had perfect coverage upon. Zero points (think the Texans would have liked a field goal there by the time the game was over?).
— That third-down play on the final stand, the pass to tight end Joel Dreessen, was the key play. That was the play call on which the Texans needed to score. “That kind of scared me,” Dockett said. “He was wide open.” But linebacker Karlos Dansby forced Matt Schaub throw it justabit too high.
— Hope you didn’t blink because you might’ve missed it, but the Cards ran a version of the Wildcat for a play Sunday. Not with Anquan Boldin taking the snap but instead Beanie Wells. Not sure there’s much threat of a pass there. Beanie gained two yards.
— Boldin was a big part of the game plan and had seven catches, but he fell into the trap of turning the ball over inside the 10-yard line. Turnovers kill, but ones that close to paydirt usually are devastating. That’s what made Calais Campbell’s blocked field goal so huge, because it stopped the Texans from using the turnover for their own score.
— Not sure the extent of the ankle injury to tight end Stephen Spach, but the Cardinals get previously suspended tight end Ben Patrick back tomorrow. A roster move will have to be made to bring back Patrick.
— There will be more talk about running more often. Whisenhunt said he wanted balance if possible and the 21-0 lead would seem to have played into that possibility. But if Kurt Warner is going to have to option to have a run/pass check at the line of scrimmage, he’s going pass if he determines that’s what the defense dictates. Can it be argued the Cards need to force the run game sometimes in certain situations, especially with the lead? Maybe. But again, I think the thought process is, this is our offense, these are our stars – Q, Warner, Fitz – and they will sway the thinking.
OK. That’s plenty for now. Like Hightower said, a win is a win in the NFL. The Cards will take it and move on — even if it comes down to (almost) the final play.
UPDATE: OK, couldn’t go to bed without watching the final stuff one more time. While the players all said it was a team effort — and it was — nose tackle Gabe Watson got off the snap incredibly quick (with Dockett right after) and the Texans’ o-linemen weren’t as quick. That penetration, along with a perfect get-lower-than-the-opponent move by DT Bryan Robinson, created the push the Cards needed. Alan Branch and Calais Campbell pinched from the sides, and Chris Brown never had a chance.
Tags: 49ers, Adrian Wilson, Alan Branch, Andre Johnson, Anquan Boldin, Beanie Wells, Ben Patrick, Bryan Robinson, Calais Campbell, Darnell Dockett, DRC, Falcons, Gabe Watson, Kurt Warner, Matt Hasselbeck, Seahawks, Stephen Spach, Steve Slaton, Tim Hightower, Wildcat
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