The Cardinals went to New York and played their hearts out, taking down a tough Giants football team. With their backs against the wall, the Arizona Cardinals defense did what it had to do and forced a stop. The offense sputtered at times, but that was expected given the protection that Kurt Warner had, if any. The defense was the difference, as they forced 4 turnovers and sacked Eli Manning 3 times. The Cardinals have now won three straight games out right, and three on the road. They are also now in 1st place in the NFC West after the 49ers lost to the Houston Texans earlier today. Let's look at the positives and negatives from the game.
Defense: The Cardinals defense brought many looks throughout the game, often confusing Eli Manning, and forcing turnovers. It seemed they blitzed on just about every play, and the results were successful. Late in the game, safety Antrel Rolle picked off Manning, and ended any hopes of a New York comeback. Alan Branch also showed up in the game, stuffing the run at times, and registering two sacks. The only negative on the defense was the fluke touchdown catch that Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie tipped to wide receiver Hakeem Nicks. Other then that, the only touchdown drive came on good field position for the Giants, after a Kurt Warner interception.
Beanie Wells: Other then a fumble that bounced out of bounds, Beanie was on top of his game against a good New York defense. He averaged 4.8 yards per carry, and even show-cased his famous stiff arm. Beanie was the difference on offense, as the Cardinals passing attacked was silenced for the most part. The Cardinals will need to rely on Wells throughout the season to bring the rushing attack they have lacked.
Offensive Line: As I sit here, I wonder if I'm doing the right thing listing them as a positive, but compared to what we're used to, they did their job today. Throughout the first three and a half quarters they only allowed 1 sack, with the second coming in the final minutes of the game. Although he was hurried at times, Warner was kept virtually safe as he wasn't hit or knocked down through much of the game. They also opened up big holes throughout the game for Wells, and didn't commit any mental mistakes.
Health: This is one area that's out of the control for the Cardinals, only because they can't know when they are in jeopardy of an injury. It did however, hurt the defense as a unit in the second half, when Eli and the offense exploited their absence on the field. At one time, DRC, Adrian Wilson, and Antrel Rolle were out because of injuries. The Cardinals will need to heal quickly, as they'll be needed throughout the long haul of the season.
Passing Game: It was troubling to see the Cardinals inability to pass after the New Orleans Saints torched this defense just a week ago. Key drops by even Larry Fitzgerald, made it hard for this offense to move down the field. Granted, they were faced a good defense and Anquan Boldin wasn't 100%, they still should have moved a little easier. They should be able to regroup with a struggling Carolina Panthers club next week.
Overall I'd have to say I prefer this win over the win last week. The Cardinals showed that they could win on a nationally televised game in a hostile environment. They had their mistakes at times, and it also looked as if the Giants would give them a run for their money towards the end. They emerged victorious however, and now head into next week on a win streak. What did you notice from this game? What were you most impressed about/concerned about?