Grading The Offense: Arizona Cardinals vs Minnesota Vikings

via prod.static.cardinals.clubs.nfl.com

It was uncertain just how prepared the Cardinals offense would be for a stingy Minnesota Vikings defense Sunday night. Kurt Warner was questionable all week with post-concussion symptoms. Matt Leinart shared reps with Warner in practice and was ready to go if Warner was not. Mike Gandy had been battling a hip injury and back up offensive tackle Jeremy Bridges was preparing to play as well. On game day, it was likely that Gandy wouldn't suit up, but Kurt Warner would refuse to miss anymore action. The Cardinals offense stumbled to start the game with a Tim Hightower fumble that led to a Vikings touchdown. After that however, the Cardinals offense outscored the Vikings 27-10. Let's take a look at how they did.

  • Kurt Warner: Kurt was surprisingly spot on after reportedly experiencing blurry vision and sensitivity to light. He had also missed the previous 6 quarters of play, so to see him slinging the ball over a 10-1 Vikings team was encouraging. The fact that the 38-year-old quarterback could return from a viscous blow to the head and beat the 2nd best team in the NFC spoke tremendously for his resiliency. Warner made the reads that put the wide receivers in best interest to make plays on the ball(see Anqun Boldin's 39-yard touchdown) and could have very well played a better game had the Cardinals not resorted to conservative play in the second half.
  • Running backs: Tim Hightower didn't make many plays with his legs to earn recognition, but surprisingly exceeded many expectations in the blocking department. Hightower squared up on just about every defender that decided to blitz and gave Kurt Warner the perfect amount of time to get rid of the ball. Hightower's blocking will be greatly needed come playoff time. Beanie Wells carried the ball more then Hightower, but only amounted to 28 yards. Obviously being in his rookie season means there will be games where he struggles, but it's not helping his cause to become the starting running back on offense.
  • Wide receivers: Anquan Boldin posted his best game of the season and also played his fourth game in a row in which he's looked like an absolute beast. Boldin set the tone on offense and led the Cardinals to their first two touchdowns of the game. Larry Fitzgerald quietly put together another solid game, catching a season long 35-yard touchdown pass that added to his league-leading total of 10 touchdowns. Steve Breaston didn't do much on the receiving end but added a 64 yard punt return in the 1st quarter that led to the first Cardinal touchdown of the game.
  • Offensive line: The biggest part of the win came from the trenches, where the Cardinals big five didn't allow a sack on the day. They completed that feat against the Vikings defensive line, a unit that leads the NFL in sacks. Even more impressive was the fact that back up tackle Jeremy Bridges was inserted into the line up, only to face NFL sack-leader Jared Allen. Add that the Cardinals run-blocking led to 113 rushing yards against the 2nd ranked run-defense and the Cardinals offensive line obviously had the best game of the season.
  • My offensive grade: A

    Final thoughts: It's not hard to give the Cardinals an A after their 30-17 defeat of the Vikings on a nationally televised game of Sunday night football. They played their best game of the year on all facets of the game and faced no trouble moving the ball down-field. How did you grade the Cardinals offense and why?

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