Arizona Cardinals Have Grown As A Team: Now Let’s See How They Do with the NY Giants Coming to Town

By Laura Healy

“Synergy \Syn”er*gy\, n.: the working together of things [offense, defense, special teams, for example] to produce an effect greater than the sum of their individual effects.”

The Arizona Cardinals are 7-3, returning to University of Phoenix Stadium winning the last three against division opponents. They beat the Seattle Seahawks in Seattle, 26-20. The game wasn’t close. At the beginning of the 4th quarter, with Arizona up 26-7, Linebacker Karlos Dansby intercepted a Matt Hasselbeck pass in the end zone. Instead of accepting the touchback he tried to bring it out and fumbled it back to the Seahawks. “I made a bonehead decision,” Dansby later said. “I was trying to make an even bigger play. It was a selfish situation.” The Seahawks scored on that possession and one other, then their comeback was aborted by an interception by Dominque Rodgers-Cromartie.

Kurt Warner threw for 395 yards. Larry Fitzgerald racked up 186-yards. Anquan Boldin added 151-yards. The Cardinals punched out 76-yards on the ground. More importantly, they held Hasselbeck to 17/29 for170-yards, 1 TD, and 3 INT. Rodgers-Cromartie picked off two passes, one in the last minute of the game to seal the win. Arizona had a good showing on offense, marred only by Warner’s INT and a ball tipped out of his hand as he went to throw it, and difficulty punching it in, having to settle for field goals.

In the beginning of the year, the offense showed up while the defense was flat. I don’t think anybody will forget the 56-35 lashing at the hands of the New York Jets. Ironically, that game proved to be a blessing in disguise as the offense scored 7 touchdowns in a row in the second half. Even the Dallas game was almost lost by a defense that let Marion Barber take the sideline and run fifty yards for a touchdown. Fortunately, the defense held on Dallas’ first possession of the overtime (OT), breaking QB Tony Romo’s finger on the third down play. Sean Morey, the Special Teams captain, ran right up the gut and blocked the punt, breaking a few bones of the kicker’s foot along the way, and Monty Beisel picked it up for the TD.

The week before, on a Monday Night showdown in the desert, they met the San Fransisco 49ers. A new head coach, Mike Singletary, was transforming the 49ers. Changes included pulling QB J.T. O’Sullivan for Shaun Hill, a move that paid off, and featuring RB Frank Gore as the center of their offense.

San Fransisco ran the opening kickoff back for a TD. Arizona didn’t panic. At the beginning of the fourth quarter Arizona trailed 24-20. Arizona still didn’t panic. In fact, they trailed until Warner hit Boldin for a 4-yard TD with just under 5 minutes left. The defense picked Hill off twice, but again, they almost lost it when Dansby was called for a Personal Foul Late Hit on 3rd down. The 49ers moved into Arizona territory. Ultimately, the defense stopped them on the 2 ½-yard line with time running out. Unlike earlier in the year, the defense showed up against the 49ers and Seahawks, and their presence made the difference in the game.

Kurt Warner won the FedEx Air Player of the Week for the second week in a row. He has been on fire since the Cardinals played Miami the second week of the season, even with the Jets game factored in. If Warner continues at the current pace, he will win the NFL MVP. Larry Fitgerald and Anquan Boldin will each finish with over a 1000-yards. Steve Breaston also has a shot at doing that. Running Backs Tim Hightower and J.J. Arrington have played well, and sent Edgerrin James to the bench. But in the season that has all of the accolades for the offense, it was one interception returned for a touchdown by Antrel Rolle against the St. Louis Rams that launched the Cardinals up into the upper tier.

The defense leads the NFL in takeaways with 22. The last two games, the defense slammed the door shut. One game soon Arizona will put together a solid defensive performance with takeaways, and the offense will put together another maestro. When they do, it’ll be a new scene here in the valley of the sun.

Sunday, the New York Giants come into the Nest, and no one gives Arizona a chance to win. The Giants are 9-1, but they have done so against relatively bad competition. Could this be the time they put it alltogether? I hope so, because once they do that, they will be hard to beat. I don’t know how the Giants match up with the Cardinals, but it will be a physical game. I’m hoping New York overlooks Arizona. There is a good chance they will. Or have the image in their mind of Warner from 2004, the year he played for them. If they do that, Arizona will come away with the win.  If the Cardinals win this game, it will propel them forward to looking at the #1 or #2 playoff spot. They’ll have found what is elusive to most teams, but once they find it, no team can stop them— synergy.