Breaking Down the Cardinals' Sunday Night Football Debut Against Peyton Manning and the Indianapolis Colts

The Arizona Cardinals and Indianapolis Colts played two of the most interesting games of Week 2.

The Cardinals (1-1), who everyone was ready to label as the bumbling losers that they were before last season, jumped out to a 31-3 lead on the Jacksonville Jaguars. Kurt Warner completed 92.3 percent of his passes to set an NFL single-game record and was on the bench by the end of the third quarter. But then the Jags stormed back against Arizona's prematurely inserted second team, and were one dropped TD pass from making it a one-score contest. Final: Cardinals 31, Jaguars 17.

On Monday night in Miami, Indianapolis (2-0) took a 7-0 lead over the Dolphins on the first play from scrimmage when QB Peyton Manning found TE Dallas Clark for an 80-yard score. But from then on, Miami controlled the clock, holding possession for an astounding 45:07 compared to Indy's 14:53. (The Colts only ran thirteen plays in the second half.) But ball control doesn't necessarily win games. Indianapolis rallied from behind four times and the Dolphins' Chad Pennington was intercepted in the end zone on the game's final play. The Colts squished the fish 27-23.

On Sunday, September 27, the two hook-up at University of Phoenix Stadium, 1 East Cardinals Drive in Glendale, in front of a national-television audience. It will mark the first time that the Colts will play in the Phoenix area since 1990. And what a match-up it will be, with Super Bowl-winning signal callers Warner and Manning squaring off on the same field.

Colts on offense, Cardinals on defense: There isn't anything mysterious about the Colts' offense, which is led by nine-time Pro Bowl QB Peyton Manning. For the past ten years, they've basically been running the same sets, augmented by RB Joseph Addai, nine-year veteran WR Reggie Wayne, and TE Clark, whose 183 yards receiving against Miami is the fourth-highest game total in league history. However, Manning likes to go all mind control on opposing defenses with pseudo audible calls and fake-them-out snap counts. The Cardinals' D needs to keep it simple stupid by sticking with their assignments and reading the keys that will be game-planned this week.

Cardinals on offense, Colts on defense: For AZ's offense, sticking to a similar formula as last week's is recommended. The Colts' new defensive coordinator Larry Coyer likes to key on stopping the run first - something Indy has been putrid at over the years. MLB Gary Brackett is an underrated force that currently leads the squad in tackles, but his status for Sunday's game is questionable due to a knee injury. The secondary, led by CB Marlin Jackson and SS Melvin Bullitt, continues to be one of the league's best. CB Kelvin Hayden is also questionable due to an undisclosed injury.

Kick's scheduled for 5:20 p.m. TV: NBC. Radio: KTAR-FM 92.3. More info at www.azcardinals.com.


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