As the saying goes: a win is a win -- is a win. Even if that win is an ugly one, which was the case in the Arizona Cardinals' 17-13 victory over the St. Louis Rams yesterday.
To be blunt -- wide receiver Steve Breaston aside -- the Cards looked like shit.
Most notably, the Cards new starting quarterback, Derek Anderson, was particularly crappy in the ugly win. He held on to the ball too long, missed a ton of passes, and has apparently failed to develop any chemistry with Larry Fitzgerald, the best wide receiver in the league.
Fitzgerald, not exactly known as a complainer, was visibly pissed.
Arizona Republic columnist Dan Bickley described in his column this morning a particularly aggravating play:
Just before a third-down snap, Whisenhunt called a timeout. Apparently he didn't like what he saw and dialed up another play. It was sheer genius, a tweaking of Xs and Os that allowed Fitzgerald to burst free behind the secondary. Alas, Anderson threw an uncatchable pass that was all smoke and no touch. Fitzgerald ended up on his stomach, staring at the end zone in disbelief.
That was one of several times Anderson missed an open Fitzgerald causing what Bickley describes as "disbelief." More accurately Fitzgerald was flat-out mad.
Anderson went 22 for 41, for 266 passing yards and one touchdown. He got knocked around a lot in the win and, to his credit, appeared unshaken. Anderson stood his ground in the pocket -- despite taking a beating -- but often hung on to the ball a few crucial seconds too long, missing opportunities to hit open receivers.
As the rest of the team uglied up St. Louis yesterday, Breaston was awesome.
Breaston and Anderson connected 7 times for 132 yards in the win. But it was Breaston's defense that saved the game.
The Cardinals had a hard time holding on to the ball yesterday. Collectively, the team fumbled four times, and in two of those cases, Breaston's speed saved the day, denying the Rams what should have been 10 points.
Breaston's first big play came after running back Tim Hightower dropped the first of his two fumbles. Rams cornerback Bradley Fletcher appeared to be off to the races until Breaston motored down the field, tackling him at the Cardinals 32-yard line. The defense forced the Rams into a fourth down and blocked the field goal.
In Breaston's second hero moment of the game, Anderson fumbled after he was sacked, and the ball was recovered by Rams defensive tackle Clifton Ryan on the Cardinals' 23-yard-line.
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Ryan ran toward the end-zone for what appeared to be a certain touchdown.
Breaston, in a Steve-Tasker-esque moment, turned on the speed, catching up with Ryan at the five-yard-line and knocking the ball loose. It was recovered in the end-zone by Cardinals' center Lyle Sendlein for a touchback.
The Cards clearly have some work to do if they plan to return to the playoffs this year. However, despite the ugly win, the Red Birds are still 1-0.
The team heads to Atlanta to take on the Falcons next week. Click here for more info.