While the Arizona Cardinals’ offense remains consistent and reliable, the team’s defense was the headliner on Sunday. Arizona forced two Steven Jackson fumbles, one which was returned 11 yards for a touchdown by DT Darnell Dockett. Rookie CB Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie also got into the action, scoring his first NFL touchdown following a 99-yard interception return of QB Marc Bulger.
The Cardinals’ defense wreaked havoc on the St. Louis offense throughout the game, limiting them to only 308 yards. The Rams were held to 5-of-13 on third downs and converted just one fourth down on three attempts. LB Gerald Hayes had a terrific all-around performance, leading the team with 11 tackles while adding .5 sacks. SS Adrian Wilson and LB Karlos Dansby each chipped in with eight stops a piece.
In a losing effort, Bulger had one of his best performances of the season. He completed 22-of-37 passes for 228 yards and a touchdown. Jackson led the Rams in rushing with 64 yards on 19 carries but his two fumbles proved to be costly. Veteran WR Torry Holt has struggled for most of this season but was able to reel in five passes for 61 yards.
On offense, Arizona continues to find little success on the ground. RB Tim Hightower led the Cardinals in rushing with only 32 yards on 12 carries. However, Hightower did manage to reach the end zone for his 10th touchdown of the season. Backup RB J.J. Arrington put forth another solid effort compiling 52 total yards on eight touches. Arrington continues to be utilized effectively as a change of pace back and on third downs.
RB J.J. Arrington
QB Kurt Warner had a relatively quiet game, completing 24-of-33 passes for 279 yards and one touchdown. After throwing for 300-plus yards in five consecutive outings, Warner has been held to less than 300 yards in two straight games. WR Steve Breaston has now led the Cardinals in receptions in each of the last two weeks. Against St Louis, Breaston finished with seven grabs for 90 yards. Additionally, WR Larry Fitzgerald hauled in six passes for 73 yards and a score while WR Anquan Boldin totaled five catches for 62 yards.
Next up for Arizona is another home tussle against the NFC North leading Minnesota Vikings. Both the Cardinals and Vikings have records of 8-5 and the winner of next week’s matchup will have an advantage in postseason positioning.
Brad Wilbricht can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org