Cardinals Take To Ground & Air In Two Wins

Kurt Warner (Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

The Cardinals have displayed versatility on both offense and defense in their two games that should serve them well for the rest of the season. In the opening day victory over the 49ers, the Cardinals concentrated on running the ball. And while the statistics weren't great, they dominated time of possession in the second half. Against Miami last Sunday, they aired it out.

Quarterback Kurt Warner passed for three touchdowns and had a perfect passer rating. Receivers Anquan Boldin and Larry Fitzgerald each had more than 100 yards receiving.

The defense was equally as versatile. In the opener, the Cardinals took some chances and blitzed quarterback J.T. O'Sullivan. Against Miami, they played it more conservatively and prevented big plays. The Dolphins' longest gain was 20 yards, and they had only four plays that went for more than 15 yards.

"They're kind of feeding off each other, which is a good thing," said coach Ken Whisenhunt.

The Cardinals are 7-3 in their last 10 games, and they have scored 20 or more points in each of those games and more than 30 in six of them. Dating back to last year, the Cardinals have won four straight, their longest winning streak since 1999.

The Cardinals offense displayed an impressive amount of diversity on Sunday. They went from four wide receivers to two tight ends. They ran the no huddle a time or two. They used multiple personnel packages and a ton of motion.

"What you can only hope you can accomplish from that is you will force defenses to play a little bit more vanilla," Whisenhunt said. "If we have an idea of what they're doing, then I think we'll have a better chance of being successful."

NOTES, QUOTES

--The Cardinals are 2-0 for the first time since 1991. They haven't been 3-0 since 1974. Only two players on the roster were alive then: QB Kurt Warner, 37, and DT Bryan Robinson, 34.

Two defensive players, strong safety Adrian Wilson and cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, have played on offense this week. What's next? An offensive player going the other way?

"Anquan (Boldin) came to me and said he wants to play safety now," said coach Ken Whisenhunt. The Pro Bowl receiver just wants to blitz, but that's not likely to happen. "We can't get too crazy," the coach said.

--RB Edgerrin James now has 15,022 yards from scrimmage in his career. He's the 14th player in NFL history to reach that milestone. "It's a nice accomplishment," James said, "but I've got to continue working. At the end of my career, I'll look back and see what I've accomplished."

--QB Kurt Warner had a perfect passer rating for the third time in his career. That ties an NFL record held by Peyton Manning. "It's always nice to justify yourself in any way, shape or form by having games like this and letting people know ... that I can still play at a high level. I'm humbled to be in Peyton's class in that regard. Let's hope that there's a few more in the barrel, too."

Warner is the first Cardinals quarterback to have a perfect rating since Jim Hart did it in 1975.

--WR Anquan Boldin gave a brief pre-game speech, telling his teammates it was OK to win a game going away. "These are the games we're supposed to win," Boldin said, "and not just barely win. It's not a crime to go in and put teams out of the game right away."

STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL

PLAYER NOTES

--RB J.J. Arrington was inactive for the second straight week. Barring injury, it's hard to see how he's going to get on the field. RB Tim Hightower and FB Tim Castille share the third-down back role.

--DE/OLB Bertrand Berry has sacked the quarterback in each game this year. Berry is playing a part-time role behind starter Travis LaBoy.

--SS Adrian Wilson became the second defensive player to see action on offense. Wilson lined up on the wing on one play and tried to block the edge. He missed his assignment but blocked a defender on the next level. CB Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie played on offense for the second straight week. He lined up at receiver but didn't get the ball.

--RB Tim Hightower became the first rookie in team history to score rushing touchdowns in his first two games. Hightower, the team's third-down back, has scored on runs of 1 and 2 yards.

--RG Deuce Lutui was replaced late in the game by Elton Brown. The two have been in close competition all off-season, and Brown is continuing to push for time.

--NT Gabe Watson hopes to make his season debut this Sunday in Washington. Watson hasn't played yet because of a fractured kneecap suffered last summer. He's practiced on a limited basis for two weeks and should be ready to increase that workload this week.

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