Cardinals Beat Time Difference, Jaguars
Antrel Rolle (AP)
Antrel Rolle (AP)

Posted Sep 21, 2009
scout.com


With a loss in the season opener and Indianapolis coming to town in the third week, the Cardinals could ill afford to lose at Jacksonville. They didn't, winning 31-17 and overcoming a couple of demons along the way. Over the years, the Cardinals haven't had much success winning on the East Coast, especially early in the season when there is a three-hour time difference.

But the Cardinals provided evidence on Sunday that they are growing up, even though the Jaguars don't look like a playoff team.

The Cardinals started fast as the offense finally got into rhythm after weeks of struggles. Kurt Warner completed his first 15 passes and finished 24 of 26. The 92.3 completion percentage set an NFL record for a single game.

"Everybody, when they had the opportunity, made plays," Warner said. "That's what this offense has been about when we've been at the top of our game."

The Cardinals offense appears to be rounding into form after weeks of struggles. It helps that receiver Anquan Boldin is returning to health after missing three weeks of practice with a hamstring injury.

Boldin isn't yet 100 percent, but he has enough explosiveness to be effective on quick screens and underneath routes. He excels in those circumstances.

Steve Breaston is also improving from a knee injury that's hindered him for the last month. Breaston is an important part of the offense because he has the ability to get deep and he can make people miss after the catch.

If the victory over the Jaguars truly was a turning point for the Cardinals, it sets up an exciting showdown against the Colts. Two of the NFL's best passing offenses will be featured, as will two quarterbacks -- Warner and Peyton Manning -- who can be devastating when they are hot.

It's an important game for the Cardinals because they have already lost a home game and have a bye in the fourth week of the season.

It will be interesting to see how Warner recovers this week from a shoulder problem. He suffered a stinger in the season opener but continued to play. He aggravated the injury against the Jaguars but played through the third quarter.

Coach Ken Whisenhunt took him out after that as a precaution. The defense gave up some points late, but in all, the Cardinals aren't complaining about a victory on the East Coast.

"We started fast and gave up late points," tackle Darnell Dockett said. "So, next week we have to raise our standards a little higher. We are one of the most dangerous teams in the league when we're clicking on all cylinders."

BY THE NUMBERS: 8 -- That's the number of catches Anquan Boldin had against the Jaguars after having only two in the season opener. It's a sign that Boldin's ailing hamstring is healing. He was able to make yards after the catch against the Jaguars. Boldin's ability to turn quick screens and short passes gives the Cardinals an element they lack when he's not healthy. If Boldin is able to do that, it should free up some deep passes to Larry Fitzgerald.

UNDER THE RADAR: The Cardinals entered the season concerned about how they were going to replace right end Antonio Smith, who left for Houston in free agency. That concern has been alleviated. Calais Campbell, in his second year, has played well in both games. He's knocked down a pass in each and he's done a solid job against the run. If he stays healthy, Campbell should be better than Smith by the end of the season.

PLAYER/PERSONNEL NOTES

-- QB Kurt Warner aggravated a right shoulder stinger but is expected to play Sunday against the Colts. Warner suffered the original injury in the opener.

-- LT Levi Brown suffered a sprained ankle against the Jaguars but X-rays were negative and he missed only a couple of series.

-- FS Antrel Rolle suffered a knee injury but never left the game against the Jaguars. Rolle struggled as a punt returner, making poor decisions on two punts. He did, however, return a blocked field goal for a touchdown. It was his sixth NFL touchdown.

-- CB Bryant McFadden played a solid game after struggling in the season opener. McFadden was physical with the Jaguars receivers, and the Cardinals will need him to play well to beat the Colts on Sunday.

-- RB Beanie Wells needs to prove he can secure the ball before coaches give it to him more often. Wells made some good runs against the Jaguars but he fumbled twice, losing one of them.

-- WR Larry Fitzgerald is having trouble getting open deep as teams double him with a safety over the top. The Cardinals are trying to counter by moving Fitzgerald around the formation. A good running game would open up the play-action, too.



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WR Anquan Boldin (profile)
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