The Arizona Cardinals closed the 2008 regular season, the same way that they
started the season, defeating a NFC West rival. They finished the season with a winning record for the first time in a decade and a perfect 6-0 against the NFC West. The Cardinals will host a home playoff, for the first time in more than half a century this Saturday when the Atlanta Falcons come to town. As for this game though, simply put the Cardinals did what they had to do to win. It wasn't a dominating win or an overly pretty game but it was effective. This game was supposed to provide a momentum boost to the slumping Cardinals and certain phases of the game did look energized. The running game and offense as a whole looked much better than they have in recent weeks and scored 34 points, they're seventh game scoring at least 30. The defense was a mixed bag. At times they looked like world beaters and at times they looked like a unit that couldn't get out of it's own way.
The running game had a 100 yard rusher for the first time in nearly two months. Coincidentally the last 100 yard rusher exploded onto the scene when he replaced Edgerrin James in the starting lineup, but it was Edge who ripped off 100 yards yesterday. He did it on just 14 carries and he had three carries over 10 yards, including a 35 yard scamper (a new high for him as a Cardinal). J.J. Arrington officially "started" the game but he only touched the ball three times, not counting two kickoff returns. It remains to be seen if this was a sign of things to come or just an aberration against a team with no reason to put up much of a fight, but for one game it was nice to see this team be able to move the ball on the ground. They'll need at least some production from the running game if they want to advance in the playoffs.
Kurt Warner finished off his best season since 2001 with 263 yards and four touchdowns. In true KW fashion though he did also have two turnovers (one fumble and one pick), but even that couldn't slow down the Cardinals on this day. Larry Fitzgerald was the star though with several "WOW" catches including a beautiful 38 yard touchdown and an incredible one-handed catch (with his left hand no less). Steve Breaston also had a great game with 91 yards on five catches and a touchdown, but the biggest catch came was a seven yard bubble screen with just :53 seconds left on the clock. Breaston entered the fourth quarter 71 yards short of 1,000 for the season but with 70 yards on three receptions he was on the door step with less than a minute to go in the game. The Cardinals got the ball back after an interception from DRC and a quick pass from Leinart to Breaston went for seven yards and ensured that the Cardinals would have three 1,000 yard receivers. Matt Leinart played the final quarter and completed five of eight passes for 83 yards. Overall the quarterbacks spread the ball around to nine different receivers, with four guys pulling in at least four balls.
The defense was decent but not anything spectacular. The good news is that they forced three turnovers, but the bad news is that they gave up three touchdown drives of 60 yards or more. The Seahawks had one other drive of 64 yards that resulted in a missed field goal but their other six drives amounted to 19 plays for 21 yards. Antonio Smith recorded the only sack for the Cardinals but Karlos Dansby might have made the biggest defensive play of the game. His strip of Maurice Morris early in the second quarter set the offense up at the 12 yard line and gave the Cardinals their first lead of the game. Ralph Brown also had a very solid game recovering the fumble caused by the Dansby and picking off Seneca Wallace's second pass of the game. Not to be outdone was Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie who hammered the final nail in the Seahawks coffin when he plucked a tipped pass out of the air on the Hawks final drive and would have scored a touchdown, if not for fumbling the ball out of bounds.
Overall, another solid game from the Arizona Cardinals against an NFC West rival. The Cardinals will have to play better next week to advance in the playoffs but this game accomplished it's purpose: building momentum and establishing confidence. Thoughts on this game and the regular season as a whole?