First of all, what a crazy game. Say what you want about Arizona Cardinals' football, but there is never a dull moment. This offense played with their football on the gas for 60 minutes and the defense did just enough to walk out of UoP with a win in what could be the most entertaining playoff game in league history. A million thoughts are rolling through my head right now but here are a selected few:
- First and foremost, Kurt Warner is a Hall of Fame QB and anyone who thinks differently is a damn fool. Forget for a second that he's won two league MVPs, been to five Pro Bowls and thrown for over 32,000 yards in his career. During the regular season he's a very good quarterback but during the post season he morphs into a GOD. It doesn't get much better than 29 of 33 for 379 and five touchdowns, without a single turnover. With this man under center don't ever bet against the Cardinals in January.
- Major props to the five big uglies for yesterday's performance. Jeremy Bridges, Reggie Wells, Lyle Sendlein, Deuce Lutui and Levi Brown played one hell of a game and they didn't have to go into any kind of "max protect" to keep Warner upright. In total they allowed just one sack to a team that racked up 37 sacks during the regular season. In addition to protecting Warner they also opened some monster holes in the running game. It's unreal to look at the stat sheet and see that the running game averaged 6.8 yards per rush and the passing game averaged eleven yards per pass play. It's awful hard to lose a game when you averaged 9.3 yards every time the ball is snapped.
Beanie Wells is and rightfully should be the starter from here on out. I've been carrying the Tim Hightower torch ever since Beanie was drafted but it's very clear who the better runner is at this point. Hightower may still be the more complete back but Wells has a burst that makes him special. That 42 yard scamper around right tackle was a thing of beauty and the short stiff arm that bought him an extra 20 wasn't even a Beanie-esque quality stiff arm but it was still effective. This kid is going to be special.
- Welcome to the NFL Mr Early Doucet. Six receptions for 77 yards, two touchdowns and several Boldin-esque type runs after the catch. In my mind Doucet just ensured that Anquan Boldin will be playing elsewhere in 2010. He's ready to contribute and contribute in a big way. The trio of Larry Fitzgerald, Steve Breaston and Doucet might not be as potent as Fitz, Q and Breaston but the drop off isn't significant.
- Ah the defense. Ever had a girl friend who just drove you up the stinkin' wall about 23 hours out of the day but then was dynamite in the sack. That's basically how I'd describe this defensive performance. Two turnovers in the first three offensive snaps from the Packers and then a third turnover to finish the game. In between though they allowed basically 500 yards of offense, 45 points and about a million first downs. On "get off the field downs" (third and fourth down combined) they allowed the Pack to convert on 7 of 13 opportunities. I will say that Aaron Rodgers was on point for almost the entire game. He missed a couple of deep balls that would have won the game but most of his throws were perfect. There were at least a handful of passes that were simply put where his receiver, and only his receiver, could make a play and most of the time they made those plays. This offense was simply amazing but the defense can not play like this next week against the Saints.
- This is sort of random but unless Gabe Watson simply doesn't have the stamina to play significant snaps, I don't understand why he isn't the starter. When I watch the game I see him making plays and pushing the LOS back but I don't see the same from Bryan Robinson. I know Whiz likes his veteran players but Watson looks like the better player when he's on the field and the gap isn't particulary close in my mind.
- Alan Branch had a fairly decent game in my mind as well. Two tackles and fumble recovery might not look like much in the box score but he held his own at the DE spot. He wasn't much in the pass rush department, which is probably why it looked like Calais Campbell played more in the second half, but with his size, he's a force against the run. A front line of Branch, Watson and Darnell Dockett has to be imposing when an offensive line breaks the huddle. That's 952 pounds of bulk standing there!!
- Lastly, I absolutely loved the fact that Whiz had new wrinkles for the Packers. Dockett and Watson in the backfield had to have thrown the Pack for a loop. Maybe it's being a former defensive lineman myself but I love seeing big 'ole defensive tackles in the backfield.
That's all I've got for now. What a game, what a win. Bring on the Saints!!