Yep, they were right, this game was a blowout. They couldn’t stop the run. They made too many mistakes. Penalties, turnovers, lost opportunities. Of course in this case I am talking about the Carolina Panthers, not the Arizona Cardinals as many predicted.
I say it once again, the experts know where they can go stick it. I dare someone to call us the worst playoff team ever next week. We’ll still be underdogs to either the Eagles or Giants, but that’s fine. I’ve been telling everyone all week the Cardinals haven’t deserved all the negativity from the national media. I was probably one of the few that predicted a Cardinals win. It was hard finding someone who even thought the Cards would keep this game close.
The Cardinals were so dominant, it’s hard to decide where to begin. Using the word beginning, the Cardinals did not have such a good one in this game. Carolina jumped to a 7-0 lead in just over 3 minutes and it looked like the Cardinals may lay down. Hope was not lost yet though.
The Cardinals went right back down the field to tie the game at 7 and really never looked back from that point. After taking a 14-7 lead into the 2nd quarter, the offense continued its onslaught and eventually took a 27-7 lead into the locker room at halftime.
The question was would the Cards be able to continue the dominance in the second half. Well, they maintained is what they did. They didn’t have the numbers and yards that they racked up in the second half, however, they were able to run the ball. This was the most balanced game the Cardinals had on offense all season. They saved it for a great time to bring it out.
Larry Fitzgerald set a playoff franchise record with 166 receiving. He found himself open time after time early in the game. The Grand Canyon has less space than the space Fitzgerald had in the Carolina secondary on Saturday night. Kurt Warner played almost perfect in the first half, at one point he was 12-15 for 181 yards and two touchdowns.
The real deal tonight though was the defense. Six turnovers. Five interceptions and one fumble recovery. They were able to contain Deangelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart, big time. With the exception of the Stewart first quarter touchdown run, they swarmed over the two of them all night and never allowed Carolina to establish itself in the running game. Jake Delhomme was forced to throw once they fell behind and couldn’t establish the running game. He threw five interceptions and could have had a couple more easily picked. Cardinals corner Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie is amazing. You can no longer call him a rookie. The way he stared down Delhomme in the second quarter for the pick near the end zone when Delhomme never saw him told me DRC will be a Pro Bowler soon, real soon.
Now the road to the Super Bowl gets even tougher. Next week they either travel to New York to play the Giants or get to play the Philadelphia Eagles at home. The Cardinals and their fans, including yours truly, will be huge Eagles fans tomorrow.
This will be a great week leading to the NFC Championship game. I give them every chance in the world to be competitive and after just listening to Merril Hoge on ESPN, he almost sounds apologetic to Cardinals believers in his analysis of this game. Amazing how this win has now started to turn naysayers into believers. I knew it would happen. It won’t change everyone’s tune, but it’s a great start.