|Cardinals have 2 weeks to come down from high|
|Written by Admin|
|Monday, 13 October 2008 13:16|
They'll need the time.
Defense, offense and - of course - special teams drew praise from coach Ken Whisenhunt in the wake of the Cardinals' 30-24 overtime thriller over the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday.
It was the signature victory so far in Whisenhunt's two-year effort to build a winner out of a franchise with a sorry history.
``We've made great progress as a team,'' Whisenhunt said Monday. ``I think that showed up yesterday on the game, just from the standpoint of being mentally tougher.''
Arizona heads into its bye week 4-2, with a two-game lead in the mediocre NFC West. The Cardinals next play at Carolina on Oct. 26.
Whisenhunt gave the players Monday off to savor the big victory.
``We'll probably get in one day of work this week on Wednesday,'' he said. ``We'll decide from that point whether we work on Thursday, but they'll have off for sure Friday, Saturday and Sunday.''
help the injured, particularly wide receiver Anquan Boldin, recover from injuries. But the flip side is preserving the momentum gained in consecutive victories over Buffalo and Dallas.
``I want to keep this feel that we have,'' Whisenhunt said.
Arizona's defense gave up 374 yards against the Cowboys, 301 through the air. But 125 yards came on two plays: Tony Romo's 55-yard TD pass in the first half to Patrick Crayton and Romo's 70-yarder to Marion Barber in Dallas' second-half comeback.
The Cardinals pressured Romo all day, knocking him down 19 times, including three sacks. The Dallas quarterback had been sacked only four times in the previous five games.
The sack by Chike Okeafor on the first play of overtime resulted in a broken finger that will sideline Romo for up to four weeks. Romo threw incomplete the next two plays, setting up the blocked punt by Sean Morey that ended the game.
Romo said the Arizona defensive line was the difference in the game.
``All we've been hearing is how big this (Dallas) offensive line is, they're big and their running back runs so hard,'' Cardinals tackle Darnell Dockett said. ``I told my D-line at the beginning of the game one thing you can't teach is quickness. You can counter that with everything they do. A lot of big plays we made were with second effort.''
n onside kick after Arizona tied the game 14-14.
The Cardinals' high-octane offense stalled through the first half, but got in gear in the second, scoring 17 consecutive points to give Arizona a 24-14 lead.
Larry Fitzgerald was his spectacular self and Steve Breaston had another big game in relief of the injured Boldin. Breaston caught eight passes for 102 yards and has 24 receptions for 301 yards in the last three games.
But it was the special teams that grabbed the glory.
It started with J.J. Arrington's return of the opening kickoff 93 yards for a touchdown. Arrington, inactive the first four games, joined Gale Sayers, Mercury Morris, Ike Thomas and Steve Odom as the only NFL players since 1964 with two opening kickoff returns for scores in their careers.
The previous four times the Cardinals had won the coin toss this season, they deferred and started the game on defense. This time, Whisenhunt decided to start on offense.
``I knew that we were going to catch it and run it back for a touchdown,'' he joked. ``I thought it might be a good start.''
Then Morey and Monty Beisel ended it.
Morey noticed that there would be no blocker between him and punter Mat McBriar. He rushed untouched to deflect the kick. Beisel scooped the ball off the turf at the 3-yard line, then bowled into the end zone.
``It was just a fantastic way to end the day,'' Beisel said.