Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie (Lisa Blumenfeld
The Cardinals secondary is bruised, torn and battered, just in time for the Cowboys and their vaunted passing game to come to town. Cornerback Rod Hood has a sore groin and might not be able to play on Sunday. Strong safety Adrian Wilson is nursing a sore hamstring that limited him to about a dozen snaps last Sunday. If Hood can't play, rookie Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie will take his place.
Rodgers-Cromartie has great physical skill and blinding speed, but he also has much to learn about the game.
Last week, he was burned for an 87-yard touchdown when he bit on a fake by Lee Evans. The problem was that the Bills were in a third-and-14 situation from their 13.
Rodgers-Cromartie obviously wasn't thinking of down and distance when he bit on Evans' fake and let the receiver get behind him for the score.
Losing Hood was big a big blow because he's the team's best cover cornerback.
Wilson played last week after missing the Jets game because of the injury. He played only in third-and-long situations and mainly blitzed off the edge.
It was his hit on the game's third play that knocked Bills quarterback Trent Edwards from the game with a concussion.
"That hit juiced up the defense," said cornerback Eric Green.
--After fumbling four times and losing three of them against the Jets, Kurt Warner concentrated on ball security leading up to the Bills game. He even carried a ball around his house, with his two youngest children trying to jar it loose. "I'm just trying to work on it any way I can," Warner said. It worked. Warner didn't have a turnover against Buffalo.
--Three Cardinals made their season debuts last Sunday. Nose tackle Gabe Watson played after missing the first four games while recovering from a fractured kneecap. Receiver Early Doucet was active because of the injury to Anquan Boldin. And running back J.J. Arrington was active for the first time in order to return kicks and play in the spread offense.
"Before the game, I was getting teary-eyed," Watson said. "It's tough being out 4 1/2, five months and not being able to do things with the team."
--FB Terrelle Smith, who wears No. 45, had some sage advice for rookie running back Tim Hightower in goal line situations.
"Follow me, get on I-45," Smith said. "I told him that I'm going to do what I need to do, follow me and get on I-45. I'm going to make sure the gate is open for highway 45 because if it isn't, then I'm going to get stopped at the checkpoint and he's not going to be able to get on smoothly."
--The Bills game was barely over when the Cardinals' attention turned to Sunday's game against Dallas.
"Playing against America's Team, the team that everybody thinks is going to the Super Bowl. The good thing is we got them at home because I don't like playing in Dallas at all," said defensive tackle Darnell Dockett.
--In the last two years, the Cardinals are 8-2 at home and 3-8 on the road. Kurt Warner is now 33-10 as a starter playing in domes and 18-28 in the open air.
STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
--WR Anquan Boldin likely won't play this week after undergoing surgery last week to repair a facial fracture. The Cardinals have a bye after the Dallas game, so it would make sense for Boldin to take advantage of that extra time to heal.
--SS Adrian Wilson was limited to a dozen or so plays against the Bills because of a sore hamstring. Coaches are hoping he will be able to take more snaps this week.
--CB Rod Hood has a "very sore" groin and might not be able to play on Sunday. Rookie Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie would take his place in the starting lineup.
--TE Ben Patrick suffered a knee injury and his status for this week is unknown. The Cardinals are hurting at tight end. Starter Leonard Pope is nursing a sore foot and ankle. Jerame Tuman hasn't played yet this year because of a hamstring pull.
--NT Gabe Watson could move into the starting lineup after making his season debut last week. Watson didn't start and played 15 or so snaps, getting a sack and causing a fumble.
REPORT CARD VS. BILLS
PASSING OFFENSE: A -- Kurt Warner executed the short passing game to near perfection. He wasn't sacked and he didn't commit a turnover. Nine Cardinals caught passes, and the team compensated for Anquan Boldin's absence.
RUSHING OFFENSE B -- The average gain was just 3.6 yards but the Cardinals were productive when they had to be. Fullback Terrelle Smith is a tremendous blocker. He made key blocks on touchdown runs.
PASS DEFENSE: B-plus -- Quarterback Trent Edwards was knocked out on the third play, and backup J.P. Losman was sacked four times in the fourth quarter. Rookie corner Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie was beaten for an 87-yard touchdown.
RUSH DEFENSE: B -- The Cardinals did a decent job containing running back Marshawn Lynch. But the Bills fell behind early and couldn't stick with the run.
SPECIAL TEAMS: B -- The coverage teams were a little lax at times, and kicker Neil Rackers had as many tackles (2) as he did made field goals (2). No glaring mistakes but no big plays, either.
COACHING: A -- The offensive game plan was innovative, going to multi-receiver sets and allowing Kurt Warner to call plays a majority of the time. The Cardinals went to quick, short passes. Defensively, the game plan was solid, and the club blitzed more than usual.