It used to be that winning 10 pro football games in two seasons was a milestone around here. This year, the Cardinals have won that many in just one season, making Arizona history. But the success hasn't come without problems.
The Cards beat up on the St. Louis Rams yesterday in Glendale 31-10 to give the Redbirds their regular-season 10 for the first time since 1976 -- 12 years before moving to the desert. Another milestone is that the Cards will be heading to the playoffs for the second time in two years.
There is a touch of gray to this historic season, however. Yesterday's win could just be another high-point in what has been a streaky season -- and in the playoffs, streaky doesn't cut it.
Sure, the offense scored points, and the defense held the Rams to just 10, but it was the Rams, a team that is currently 1-14.
The win does dispel the notion that this is just, you know, the sad-sack Arizona Cardinals. The Cards have been very successful against good teams this year, while failing or struggling to compete with some of the bottom-of-the-barrel units, like last week's near loss to the dismal Detroit Lions or the two losses suffered against the San Francisco 49ers.
The Cards played well Sunday, but there are still some chinks in the armor that will need to be addressed before the team heads to the playoffs.
On the one hand, the Cards passing game is back. Kurt Warner went 24 for 38 for 297 yards in the air and no interceptions. On the other, the offensive line isn't living up to its end of the bargain and Kurt's still being hurried.
Warner, who as of last week seemed to still be recovering from a concussion, was sacked twice and often hurried from his left side, where injured tackle Mike Gandy is usually offering protection. Gandy is out for the season and, his replacement, Jeremey Bridges, has struggled to keep defenders at bay.
This will be a big problem for the Cards in the playoffs.
Although Kurt didn't seem to let the added pressure phase him yesterday, Warner has a tendency to get flustered when he's got people in his face. He makes stupid passes into double coverage and fumbles the ball, which he did three times in the last two weeks, catching another case of butter-fingers yesterday when he dropped one again.
As for the defense: Who knows?
The Cardinals D is a mystery -- it can be one of the league's elite one week and one of its worst the next.
The defense looked elite yesterday, holding St. Louis to 238 total yards. Not to mention three interceptions but, again, it was the Rams.
The Cards host the Green Bay Packers and their cheese-headed fans next week in what is a meaningless game for the Cards but may serve as a preview of the first round of the playoffs, as the Packers are gearing up to be a potential opening opponent.
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