Adrian Wilson (Harry How/Getty)
Two-time MVP Kurt Warner led the Arizona Cardinals past the San Francisco 49ers Monday night while the defense played below expectations. The Cardinals were the popular vote going into the match, but the 49ers were campaigning through the battle grounds until the last second. It’s safe to open your eyes now, the Cardinals won. They stuffed the 49ers run as the clock ran out with Arizona up 29-24.
--The Cardinals allowed two touchdowns to pass them by in record time, but Steve Breaston rebounded with a 46-yard reception in the second quarter, which ultimately set up Kurt Warner to pass short to Anquan Boldin who recorded his ninth touchdown of the season. He would later score again for his third multi-touchdown game on the year.
Arizona brought the game within in four with Warner’s ability to extend the play. Something you don’t hear about Warner everyday, but his pocket mobility gave him some time to work with and get the ball to Boldin.
--Warner won the ball game for Arizona. Although flustered, he remained in veteran mode and got the Cardinals to play. His completion percentage was higher than 75 percent. Warner’s accuracy made all the difference on Monday.
Warner’s ability to involve Breaston in the first half was essential. Breaston’s capacity to step up when Larry Fitzgerald and Anquan Boldin were mobbed made him beyond effective for the Cardinals. He finished with a team-high 121 yards on seven receptions.
--Neil Rackers was up for the challenge on Monday Night. While he didn’t need to make any record-setting kicks, he was consistent with three for three on field goals and two for two on extra points, earning the Cardinals 11 points.
--Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie was hit and miss in his starting debut. In for the injured Eric Green, the rookie cornerback nearly came up with his first NFL interception, but couldn’t hang on. He saw a few big plays happen in front of him, but was tireless in his pursuit.
--Missed tackles, stupid penalties, incorrect positioning happened quite often on Monday. But nearly all those at fault made up for it in some way or another. For instance, Karlos Dansby put the unnecessary in roughness costing a 15-yard penalty, but he also had seven tackles and an interception, which allowed Boldin to earn another touchdown and pass by the 49ers for the 29-24 lead.
--Defensive back Allen Rossum woke up Arizona when he took the sideline route 104 yards to put the Cardinals on catch up duty before the opening whistle. His touchdown return was the second longest in Monday Night Football. Rossum was able to break through with his vision, speed and solid special teams coaching unit.
--The Cardinals penalties were embarrassing. San Francisco rivaled that sentiment with a matching 10 whistle blows. The 49ers gave up 93 yards, while Arizona contributed 71 to the pot.
Arizona was its own worst enemy. The self-destruction mode wasn’t pretty. The game was on the line, and the Cardinals weren’t focused. It appeared to be all she wrote, but Arizona was able to pull it together.
--The Cardinals let RB Frank Gore get comfortable in the first half, but kept him to less than 100 ultimately.
--The home team couldn’t find its rhythm early on. The stakes were high, but the Cardinals are preparing for the postseason where the pressure will be at a boiling point. Arizona needs to get its nerves out pre-game and show up to play on kickoff.
The Cardinals end their three-week NFC West tour when they head to Seattle to take on the Seahawks. Arizona enjoys a four-game lead in the division with seven games remaining.