The Arizona Cardinals discovered a little bit more about Matt Leinart in Sunday's win against the St. Louis Rams. It wasn't because Arizona was blowing out the Rams, but because Kurt Warnercame out after getting a big blow to the head in the first half. Warner would be alright and would end up on the sidelines the remainder of the game, but coach Whisenhunt didn't want to take any chances. Luckily for the Cardinals, all of this happened after Warner led them to three touchdown drives.
The passing game was good despite not having Kurt Warner in the second half. Warner completed 15/19 passes (78.9 completion percentage) for 203 yards and two touchdowns. He would end up leaving because St. Louis's safety Oshiomogho Atogwe slammed Warner's head to the turf. This meant Matt Leinart would get a chance to prove he is the future of this team. Leinart looked rusty in the beginning but started to show signs that he could be a decent quarterback towards the end of the game. Despite the rustiness he would complete 10/14 passes (71.4 completion percentage) for 74 yards and no touchdowns. Overall, Leinart wasn't that bad considering he hasn't had much playing time this season.
Tim Hightower and Beanie Wells continue to run very well against the opposition as they racked up 184 yards in Sunday's game. Hightower had the better game of the two rushing for 110 yards on 14 carries (7.9 yards per carry). This would be the first 100 yard rusher Arizona has had all season. Beanie also got 14 carries which went for 74 yards (5.3 yards per carry) and 1 touchdown. Both running backs were explosive and dragged defenders as they ran for extra yardage. The one blip was a lost fumble by Beanie on the opening drive, although it was credited to Warner. If they can continue this week in and week out, the Cards will be among the best teams in the league.
The defense also had a nice game even though they had a rough second half. They would allow just a field goal in the first half and contained Steven Jackson pretty well as he had not passed the 50 yard mark yet. In the second half though, the Rams offense would make adjustments to the Cardinals defense. Jackson came out and broke off a 44 yard run and also broke the 100 yard rushing mark.. This is something he has never done against a Arizona defense in his career. They would also convert three fourth downs on one drive that would end in them scoring their lone touchdown. Despite all of this, the defense stepped up and made the plays needed to win the game. The key play was Darnell Docket's sack on the final drive that really shook up Marc Bulger. After that sack he missed wide open receivers on multiple downs, allowing Arizona to force the turnover on downs. Even though the defense can be very inconsistent, they play well enough for Arizona to win every week.
Special teams continues to do their part. This week they had good coverage on returns allowing a nine yard average on punt returns and 30 yards on kick returns. They also helped punter Ben Graham pin the Rams inside their own 20. Speaking of Ben Graham, he continues to make a bid to become a pro bowl punter. He had two more punts inside the 20 on Sunday, which he leads the NFC in. LaRod Stephens-Howling also had a decent day on kick returns as he averaged 22 yards per return. This unit continues to be a strength of the team.
Holding penalties continue to hurt this team. Every week they have one of those penalties that brings back a big play. This week's play would have been a 16 yard rush by Beanie Wells. Instead it was a 10 yard holding penalty on fullback Dan Kreider. These are starting to get ridiculous and must stop.
Michael Adams had a tough day trying to defend St Louis receivers. Adams came in to replace Bryant McFadden, who suffered a knee injury early in the game. Adams at times would play back allowing St. Louis to complete quick passes. The one obvious one went to Randy McMichael, who would turn it into a first down. Adams did not allow a touchdown but he did allow too many completions and it showed why he is the fourth string defensive back.
There really was not much bad about this game with the exception Kurt Warner having to come out early. You could point out that we did not score at all in the second half but this is almost certainly because Warner came out. Next week will be a big game on the road against the. What did you think of this game?