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Back to .500; Arizona defeats Cleveland

In a game in which I had little confidence in Arizona, to say the least, the Cardinals pulled out a crucial victory. Does it affect the playoff picture? Not much, no. But it did improve the seasonal record to .500. It also keeps the door to the playoffs from being slammed shut, as Arizona is still in the Wild Card hunt.

In a sense, this game was representative of the team's better half of the season in the same way last week was representative of the worse half: Kurt Warner played a good game; Edgerrin James had a great game, eclipsing 100 yards for the second time this season; and, more importantly, the defense forced four turnovers.

Not all was good; the defense nearly allowed the victory to escape them. In fact, the game was about as close to a win for Cleveland as you can find; as time expired, Kellen Winslow nearly came down with a catch in the endzone. Ruled incomplete, the play was challenged and upheld.


Too close for comfort, if I do say so myself.

What won the game for Arizona? I'd say the turnover difference. No team that wins the turnover battle 1-4 should lose a game, though Arizona nearly did.

It was also nice to see Edgerrin James get 24 carries -- and make the most of them. Since week three he's been disappointing, not hitting triple digits on the ground and keeping his average low. But Sunday's 114 yards were accomplished with a 4.8 yard per carry average. Sweet.

Game Ball

One could make the case that Roderick Hood deserved the game ball. His 71 yard interception return for a touchdown in the first quarter helped set the tone for the entire game. He later took a second interception 26 yards in the second quarter.

Personally, however, I think James gets the edge (pun intended). His 114 yards helped the Cardinals effectively move the ball downfield. He also carried the ball on nine of 11 plays in the Cardinals' final drive, setting up Neil Rackers' field goal.