Arizona Cardinals Claim NFC West Crown

Ken Whisenhunt

The Arizona Cardinals stake claim to the NFC West thanks to a defense that never quit working in the Cardinals 34-10 win over the St. Louis Rams who surprisingly shutout Arizona's high-powered offense in the second half. But the Cardinals defense stepped up and made it happen for the win and the division. Ken Whisenhunt received the gatorade bath that he's been working for since day one.

The Cardinals are feeling like champions, and they have every right to. After battling the critics all season long, they knocked the Seattle Seahawks off the divisional thrown early on and never looked back.

Arizona set some goals going into Sunday's game and worked them out. An important objective was to work with better field position. Arizona took a positive step in the right direction replacing Dirk Johnson as the Cardinals had the playoffs in mind. The Cardinals worked with embarrassing field position in their loss to the Philadelphia Eagles the week prior. But on Sunday, the Cardinals were able to work on a short field and give the Rams a lot of ground to make up.

Darnell Dockett proved just how important field position is when he recovered a fumble and easily jogged it in 11 yards for the first defensive touchdown of the second half.

Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie followed suit but ran the length of the field for a 100-yard interception return, the first of his young career.

Prior to all the defensive hooplah, the Cardinals carried out another goal. Arizona was determined to get its running game going. Sixty three yards on the ground leaves a lot to be desired, but the first downs by rushing is a different story. The Cardinals earned 12 first downs through the air and manage to rush for six. A 50 percent first down rate is a great balance.

The opening drive displayed a great combination of passing and rushing efforts that enabled Tim Hightower to rush in for the game's first touchdown.

The second scoring sequence put a 12-yard pass right in Larry Fitzgerald's hands. Besides a pair of field goals from Neil Rackers, the Cardinals offensive play ended there. They came out of the locker room unable to get anything done. The Cardinals used newly acquired Punter Ben Graham way more than anyone would have thought.

At the end of the day, the Cardinals clinched the division. A monumental event in Arizona.

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