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Arizona Cardinals Beat Dolphins 31-10: Defensive Breakdown

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We took a look at the prolific offense yesterday but today we swith gears and look at how the stingy Arizona Cardinals defense did against the Dolphins. They only Alan_branch2_mediumallowed 10 points (lowest since 11/19/06) and all of the points came well after the game was decided. The defense wasn't as disruptive as it was in week one but once they jumped ahead by three scores the blitzes were dialed down and the plan become more about not allowing a big play or a cheap score.

Defensive Line: The DL got a boost with Alan Branch returning to the rotation and the front line played a big role in shutting down Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams. The Dolphins running game totaled just 72 yards and had three rushes that resulted in negative yardage. Darnell Dockett and Antonio Smith spent much of the day trying to cover backs out of the backfield instead of rushing the passer and they did a good job of limiting Brown and Williams to just 3 receptions for 20 yards. Calais Campbell continues to impress (led the DL with 3 tackles) and he should continue to see an increased role as the season progresses. Bryan Robinson continues to prove why he was a great free agent signing as he logged one of two sacks on the day. Grade: A

Line Backers: Karlos Dansby showed again why he's a man that deserves to be paid as he led the defense in tackles, with eight, for the second consecutive game. Hayes, Haggans and Okeafor were each solid with multiple tackles and played a big role in limiting Chad Pennington's favorite targets (tight ends and RBs). Travis LaBoy didn't follow up his two sack performance from last week but he missed 10-15 plays after his face mask broke. Bertrand Berry chipped in with four tackles and his second sack in as many games. Grade: B+

Corner Backs: The corners were solid once again allowing Dolphin receivers just 10 receptions for 122 yards total and half of those stats (5 for 60) came on the Phins final touchdown drive, long after the game had been decided. Roderick Hood made plays all over the field, finishing second on the team with six tackles and his first pass defended on a deep pass to Ernest Wilford. Eric Green had a good game and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie saw some extended playing time later in the game and finished with two tackles and his first pass defended. Ralph Brown got on the field and his was tackle was a one yard loss on Ricky Williams. Grade: B+

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Adrian_wilson2_medium Safeties: Adrian Wilson is still stud of the secondary and he proved it again on Sunday as he finished with four tackles, including stopping Ronnie Brown for a four yard loss in the on the Phins opening drive to force a three and out. Wilson played a big role is shutting down the running game as three of his tackles were on running plays (two were one yard gains and the four yard loss). Antrel Rolle played his part as well and his two tackles were also on running plays, including one for no gain. Aaron Francisco made his mark on the game stopping Ricky Williams for a seven yard loss and causing a fumble. He finished with three tackles and a pass defended. Grade: A

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Overall it's hard not to love a defensive performance where they only allowed ten points and 4.1 yards per play. The defense wasn't as oportunistic as they were against the Niners but they were still dominant. There stats are likely inflated by playing against the offensively challenged Dolphins but if the defense can continue to stiffle opposing offenses and limit the big play, this team will be in every game. Thoughts? Agree/Disagree? What would your grades have been?