A Long Time Coming, But Cardinals Advance
By Bryan Mongeau-Eastmond
NEW YORK(RushPRnews)01/04/09–First home playoff win in 61 years.When two teams are mere mirror of themselves, more often then not, it comes down to who wants it more. Who is willing to go that extra mile and advance to the next playoff round? After seeing Arizonaâ€™s performance against the Atlanta Falcons during the NFC wildcard game on Saturday, maybe itâ€™s time to put to rest those nasty rumors that the Cardinals canâ€™t beat a quality football team, as they went on to win 30-24.
Another rumor circulating around the league to the effect that veteran Edgerrin James is washed-up may also be put to rest. In a surprising twist, James found himself back in the starting lineup and made his presence felt early in the game. Essentially benched for the most part of the season, James has seen little playing time since his arrival in Arizona. But Coach Ken Whisenhunt elected to unleash man they call the â€œEdge,â€ who certainly has playoffs experience playing with his former team: the Indianapolis Colts.
James did not disappoint and led all rushers in the game with 73 yards on 16 carries. With the advantage of being well rested and having fresh legs, he made the Falcons defense focus on him rather than the passing attack. In fact, they challenged the Falcons to stop the run.
Surely the decision to run the ball early on and then mix in passes took Atlantaâ€™s defense by surprise. The Cardinals and their quarterback Kurt Warner, rely heavenly on arguably the leagueâ€™s best receiving duo in Larry Fitzgerald and Anquan Boldin.
Jamesâ€™ success opened the door and the passing game took flight. Fitzgerald got things going scoring in the first quarter after hauling in a 42-yard touchdown pass from Warner. Shortly after, Warner tossed a short pass to Boldin, who then turned on the jets and outran Atlantaâ€™s safety Lawyer Milloy and the rest of the defense for a 79 yard score. Boldin injured his hamstring at the end of his run and left the game.
The Falconâ€™s first-round draft choice and the NFLâ€™s Offensive Rookie of the Year had a rough day under centre. He was constantly under pressure and the defense sacked him for a safety. No question that a star was born in Ryan as the rookie earned hi steam a spot in the playoffs, but Arizonaâ€™s defense was up to the task. Ryan finished 26-of-40 for 199 yards with 2 interceptions and 2 touchdown passes.
In his first year with the Falcons, Michael Turner got a measly 42 yards against a questionable defense. Letâ€™s not forget that Turner was the leagueâ€™s second leading rusher behind Adrian Peterson.
This win is especially sweet for the Cards as it marks their first home playoff win in 61 years. Welcome to the playoffs.
The action continues on Sunday. Look for our update, right here at RushPRnews.
Photo courtesy of the National Football League.