QB Kurt Warner (Stephen Dunn/Getty)
The Cardinals mounted a late fourth-quarter comeback against the New York Giants but came up short in a 37-29 loss. Arizona outplayed the Giants at times, but lapses on special teams were too much to overcome in the end. Brad Wilbricht breaks down Sunday’s defeat and wraps up the action from University of Phoenix Stadium.
While the Cardinals’ offense put forth another solid effort, the team’s defense slowed down a potent New York offense. Arizona held the Giants to 321 total yards, including just 87 yards on the ground. Coming into Sunday’s game, New York had been racking up a league leading 173 yards per game rushing.
Unfortunately for Arizona, they were hindered by poor special teams play all afternoon. Domenik Hixon racked up 180 yards on three kickoff returns and totaled 21 punt return yards on two attempts. His tremendous effort in the return game set up the Giants’ offense with excellent field position throughout the game. Hixon was also utilized in a variety of ways on offense, finishing with 269 all-purpose yards.
Without the services of RB Brandon Jacobs, QB Eli Manning and the Giants’ passing game picked up the slack. Manning was extremely efficient, completing 26-of-33 passes for 240 yards and three touchdowns. Manning came up big on several occasions despite the loss of his top receiving target, Plaxico Burress.
TE Kevin Boss and a host of New York receivers stepped up to fill the void left by Burress. Boss hauled in four passes for 48 yards and a score. Hixon led the Giants in receiving with six receptions for 57 yards while Amani Toomer added a 12-yard touchdown grab late in the first half.
RB Derrick Ward proved to be an adequate replacement for the banged up Jacobs, pacing the Giants in rushing with 69 yards on 20 carries. Ward also contributed in the passing game, catching four passes for 30 yards.
The Cardinals’ defense was led by LB Karlos Dansby and SS Adrian Wilson who both had nine stops each. Arizona was unable to consistently pressure Manning as DE Bertrand Berry had the team’s only sack. Additionally, the Cardinals failed to force a turnover for the first time since Week 3 against the Washington Redskins.
Bertrand Berry & Eli Manning
On offense, QB Kurt Warner had another productive outing, throwing for over 300 yards passing in his fifth consecutive game. He completed 32-of-52 passes for 351 yards and one touchdown but also committed two turnovers. Warner’s two mishaps came during second-half action as he lost a fumble and was picked off by CB Terrell Thomas early in the fourth quarter.
The Giants came in with one of the top pass-rushing units in the NFL but were held in check by the Cardinals’ offensive line. DE Justin Tuck had New York’s lone sack but also caused a fumble, setting up a 2-yard touchdown pass from Manning to fullback Madison Hedgecock.
While Larry Fitzgerald was relatively quiet, Anquan Boldin continues to be an incredibly reliable target. Boldin reeled in 11 passes for 87 yards and one touchdown, marking his second straight game with double-digit receptions. Meanwhile, Fitzgerald was limited to five catches for 71 yards. Fitzgerald has now been held under 100 yards receiving in three of the last four games.
The Cardinals have been plagued by a lack of running game this year and that theme continued against a stout New York defense. RB Tim Hightower ran for only 21 yards on 11 carries but did manage to reach pay dirt twice. As a team, Arizona was held to 23 yards on a dismal 1.5 yards per carry. The Cardinals were unable to get any production on the ground and had a long run of just five yards.
Next up for Arizona is a Thanksgiving night showdown against the Philadelphia Eagles. Philadelphia is coming off a 36-7 loss against the Baltimore Ravens and has uncertainty at the quarterback position after Donovan McNabb was benched in favor of Kevin Kolb.
Brad Wilbricht can be contacted at email@example.com