Cardinals 30, Falcons 24: Arizona Reminds Everyone Not to Write Them Off
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You have to give the Arizona Cardinals credit. They don't often make the playoffs, but when they do, they get their money's worth. The last time they were in the playoffs was 10 years ago, and they won a game that time around as well.
I guess all those people constantly reminding Arizona fans how much their team sucks needed to check themselves a bit. After a beautifully executed flea-flicker -- resulting in a touchdown by Larry Fitzgerald -- the Cards outplayed the Falcons for most of the game. There was a brief interlude where Atlanta took the lead due to a late first-half interception deep in Cardinals territory. That sequence alone is why the game ended up much closer than it should have been.
The Cardinals controlled this game at the line of scrimmage from start to finish. Coming in, the Atlanta Falcons were the ones with the vaunted rushing attack, while the Cardinals ran the ball less than any team in the league. With John Abraham being rendered basically meaningless and the Cardinals defensive front living in the Falcons backfield, the Cards outran the Falcons.
The game was iced when the Falcons -- after getting an eight-yard loss on a terrible second-down play call -- left the middle of the field wide open on third and 16. Kurt Warner hooked up with Stephen Spach before gracefully kneeling down a few times and setting off the celebration in the desert.
The Cardinals outgained the Falcons by 107 yards, held Michael Turner to 42 yards rushing, made Matt Ryan look like the rookie he still is, and provided a safety. Edgerrin James looked rejuvenated. Falcons' rookie head coach Mike Smith appeared frustrated all game because of the Cards winning the battle in the trenches. Oh, and there was that 71-yard Anquan Boldin touchdown as well. All in all, it was a nice day for the Cardinals franchise and second-year coach Ken Whisenhunt.
The Falcons will be disappointed here for the next few days, but they grew a ton this season and have a solid foundation in place. Roddy White had a solid day in the loss, with 11 catches for 84 yards and a touchdown.
The focus for the winners will shift to their East Coast woes quite soon, but no one thought the Cardinals were going to win this game, either. Don't count them out with this explosive offense, especially if the defensive front continues to stifle the run like they did today.