Take from me, someone who has endured 20 years of futility, this weekend’s win over the Atlanta Falcons meant more to me than you can imagine. Now that the Arizona Cardinals are off to Carolina on Saturday to play the Panthers after their 30-24 win over the Falcons, I want more.
I want more of what I saw against the 11-5 team from Atlanta. I want to see continued efforts at finding balance in the offensive attack. Edgerrin James re-appeared in week 17 and took that momentum into the Wild Card game on Saturday. He had 73 yards on 16 carries. Even Tim Hightower came into the game in the second half to spell Edge for several plays and ran the ball effectively. I want more.
I want more of the same defensive effort the Cards gave to the Falcons. They may have given up 24 points, however 14 of them came in a short span due to an offensive turnover in the second quarter right before halftime. Unfortunately for the Falcons, they couldn’t carry that momentum into the second half as they quickly self destructed after taking the field in the third quarter. Nothing was sweeter to see than on the second play of the half, Michael Turner fumbling the ball right into Antrel Rolle’s hands and returned for a touchdown. I want more.
I want more of the same overall intensity I saw from the Cardinals on Saturday. From start to finsh the Cardinals didn’t give up. It would have been easy to do so after the Kurt Warner interception right after a long Atlanta scoring drive. The Cards fed off the home crowd. They won’t have that same home crowd on Saturday in Carolina, so it will be a tougher task no doubt. If they keep the same mental toughness though, something they have seemed to lack at times, especially in road games, then they should keep themselves in the game. I want more.
I want more great tackling. The Cardinals easily had their surest tackling game of the season. Even when defenders played loose on Falcons receivers, they still hit them hard and didn’t miss tackles. I want more.
I want more football period. The Cardinals showed their fans on Saturday they didn’t believe into the national media hype that they didn’t belong in the playoffs, that it was a treat for a team to come to Arizona and play football. One expert labled the Cardinals as the worst playoff team ever. No one around here in Arizona or within the organization bought into it. It would have been easy too. Many experts said rookie Matt Ryan was going to be the more poised quarterback in the Wild Card game. That was saying something as his counterpart was two time MVP and one time Super Bowl MVP Kurt Warner, who had his best season since his last Super Bowl with St. Louis in 2002. I want more football and I know we will hear a lot of the same skepticism that has dogged the Cardinals this past week, this season, and for most of their franchises’ existence as they head back east to play the Panthers. The Cardinals went 0-5 back east this season. That was then, this is now. The win over the Atlanta Falcons has created excitement in the Valley of the Sun again. I want more.
The Atlanta Falcons can look back at a great season. Sure they had expectations once they made the playoffs of going further, but they did a lot better than I expected them to. Matt Ryan was impressive, as was Michael Turner. I knew Saturday’s game would be tough and the Cardinals would have to bring playoff intensity to win. They did that and sent the Falcons packing and sent Cards coach Ken Whisenhunt running around the stands along each sideline giving high fives after the game. It was a beautiful sight to see.
From the big offensive plays, such as the Kurt Warner to Larry Fitzgerald flea flicker, to the swarming defensive effort, as evidenced by the fourth quarter safety of Matt Ryan on Saturday, the Cardinals need to bring more of it next week. I want more!