When the Arizona Cardinals took the field today to take on their division rival, the Seattle Seahawks, they expected a close game. It was anything but that as the Cardinals took an early lead and never looked back. The Cardinals began the game, essentially taking the crowd out of the equation. Quick passes and runs ate up the majority of the first quarter, as the Cardinals marched down the field to go up 7-0. On the ensuing kick off, Neil Rackers pooch-kicked the ball that was recovered by a Cardinal. A few plays later and the score was 14-0. At that point in the game, the Cardinals were looking for the kill. Here's some notes about the game.
The Defense - What a way to make a statement like not allowing a touchdown and holding your opponent to 14 rushing yards. The Cardinals answered critics when they contained a capable passing attack and kept the Seahawks out of the end zone. After failing to register any sacks the last two games, the Cardinals also walked away with five today. Pressure on Matt Hasselbeck was the key to the game, as it kept their offense out of sync and also forced several three and outs. To add to their already impressive day, they also forced a fumble and picked off Hasselbeck late in the game. The secondary fixed many of their flaws and didn't allow a big play down field. The most important stat of the night, is that the defense didn't blow a big lead in the second half.
Kurt Warner -Warner looked poised and confident throughout the game today. He was very accurate and made several big throws on 3rd down. He moved around in the pocket when the pressure came close, and didn't crack under pressure when he was sacked twice by Patrick Kerney. It would help if Warner kept the ice water running through his veins on the road next week against the Giants.
Play Calling - The play calling looked similar to what it was last year, as they got back to spreading the ball to all of their weapons. Although the running game struggled, the balanced attack kept Seattle on their heals and allowed Kurt Warner to utilize the play action. Warner looked nearly perfect, aside from the interception that shouldn't count anyway. Larry Fitzgerald finally received the ball more, catches 13 passes for 100 yards and a score.
Steve Breaston - Breaston should be considered the silent assassin, as he always seems to manage a good game that gets unnoticed by the opponent. His two big punt returns gave the Cardinals very good field position when the offense was struggling. Breaston came up big, catching 7 passes for 77 yards. He also capped off his day leaping for a touchdown catch that put the Seahawks out of the game.
Running Game -The Cardinals failed to amass much on the ground once again this week. At a time where they needed to run out the clock and take the Seahawks completely out of the game, they weren't able so. It could be the complete lack of holes to run through, or it could also be because the Cardinals have become predictable. Several times throughout the game it was obvious when the Cardinals were going to run the ball. Kurt tried to change the direction of the plays as well, but the overall outcome was the same.
Beanie Wells - At times Wells showed glimpses of running the ball effectively, and then he showed why exactly Ken Whisenhunt is worried about getting him the ball more. Wells nearly fumbled twice today, which luckily none of which, were taken away by the Seahawks. The Cardinals aren't a team that can win with turnovers and if Beanie wants the ball more, he'll need to prove he can hold onto it.
Penalties -The penalty problem attacked again this week, as the Cardinals committed 7 for 76 yards. The offensive line was responsible for the majority of them, whether crowd noise was a factor or not. Four out of the five lineman had penalties called against them today. Penalties make it tough to close out games, and the Cardinals will need to avoid them next week.
Overall the Cardinals can't be upset with the win today. They did just about everything right despite playing in a tough environment. They limited a good passing offense, and also kept their rank as the number one rushing defense in the league. They'll have their hands full when they travel to New York next Sunday. What's the good news? It's a night game and they already have two road wins this season. What are your thoughts on the game today?