Anquan Boldin (Stephen Dunn/Getty)
The Cardinals took a 37-29 nose dive to the New York Giants, but faired better than half the league predicted. The Giants were the clear favorite heading into Sunday’s game, but the Cardinals’ faithful thought Arizona had a good shot at sending Eli Manning & Co. home packing without a win. No use crying over spilled milk as the Cardinals are still playoff bound with no expiration date in sight.
--The first quarter appeared as if slow and steady would win the race. Both teams’ offenses were off the field in a hurry thanks to brutal defensive efforts from each roster.
Rookie cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie was part of the Cardinals early success. He wrapped up a pair of consecutive textbook tackles that forced QB Eli Manning off the field. As a result, the Giants punt team was called into action after New York possessed the ball for less than two minutes on its opening drive. Rodgers-Cromartie would later go on to save a touchdown pass.
--When Kurt Warner was up to bat, it was apparent from the get-go that he would need all the help the offensive line could muster. Warner saw immediate pressure. But WR Steve Breaston was there to save the day as he picked up an early 17 yards, which was the Cardinals opening first down.
But after 13 plays, the Cardinals would call in K Neil Rackers who is continually earning the confidence back from his team and the fans. Rackers posted the first three points of the game, and the Cardinals ended the first quarter up, 3-0.
Rackers would contribute 11 points on the day.
--Warner and Manning were pummeled to the ground just once in Sunday’s game. Bertrand Berry got at Manning for a loss of 6 yards. Berry has five sacks on the season. After 11 years in the league, he proves game in and game out that he still belongs on the field. The pay cut he took this past off season was a true testament that he believes in what the Cardinals are doing, and shows how much he wants to be a part of it.
DE Bertrand Berry
As for Warner, DE Justin Tuck received the sacking honors. The Cardinals have allowed 24 sacks on the season. Hands down, the Cardinals big guys up front stepped up in protecting Warner on Sunday. He was able to pass for 348 yards. While the second half, the Giants threw the offensive line a bit of its game and the line members appeared a bit confused at times, the majority of the game was spot on.
But the Giants’ football intellect proved to be a problem for the Cardinals, New York would recognize run or pass more premature than Arizona anticipated.
--After losing his starting role to rookie Rodgers-Cromartie, Eric Green came back in with a bit of redemption against the Giants. He cut the route on Giants’ tight end Kevin Boss. Green was looking for the pick, but broke up the pass instead. Green finished the day with five tackles, which gave him the second highest total. He was behind Karlos Dansby and Adrian Wilson who shared a team-high seven tackles.
--On offense, Warner’s execution of getting all of his ducks in a row was outstanding. He relived his St. Louis days with five viable options to go-to down the stretch. Anquan Boldin led the way with 87 yards, with Steve Breaston trailing by a single yard.
Larry Fitzgerald struggled a bit with FS Kenny Phillips as his guard, which is something you don’t see everyday. Jerheme Urban was able to pick up some extra reps. He finished 69 yards on five receptions. Urban’s shining moments came with a 32-yard catch in the second quarter and a big tackle on special teams that saved a touchdown.
Game Ball: The Giants lost to a respectable team on Sunday. Whether the Cardinals will be thought of that way anytime soon is yet to be seen, but Arizona defended its turf and put on a good show. But the man of the hour is rookie RB Tim Hightower. He struggled a bit against the best run defense in the league, but was still able to pick up two touchdowns, which marks nine on the season. Hats off to Hightower.