Becht, Patrick help power Cards' run game


TEMPE, Ariz. -- Arizona running backs have broken their seven longest runs of the season since Week 9.

The Cardinals, known for spreading the field with three or four wide receivers, had two tight ends on the field for five of those seven long-gainers.

Coincidence? Hardly.

As the Cardinals demonstrated Sunday night while beating the Vikings, they can be a physical running team with tight ends Anthony Becht and Ben Patrick clearing the way (download this season-to-date personnel report for details).

"It just gives us a different look," running back Tim Hightower said Monday. "We're trying to run out of different personnel and try to find something we can be more consistent out of mixing run and the pass. I think that is what two tight ends has given us."

Becht and Patrick seemed largely invisible in the Cardinals' locker room Sunday night while reporters swarmed Larry Fitzgerald, Anquan Boldin and other big-name stars.

"Both of those guys did very well blocking defensive ends the whole game," Cardinals coach Ken Whisenhunt said. "We had a play where we hit Larry on a big play-action pass, which is directly attributable to us being able to run out of that set."

According to Whisenhunt, the Vikings played the Cardinals differently than they played other teams, bringing a safety nearer the line of scrimmage to stop the run against that grouping. Arizona averaged 8.3 yards per carry on 10 rushes from its "Detroit" personnel grouping with one back, two receivers and two tight ends.

Cardinals personnel report: Weeks 13

The chart shows Arizona's offensive production across personnel groups during the Cardinals' 30-17 victory over the Vikings. The figures do not count quarterback scrambles, clock-stopping spike passes or aborted plays. The Cardinals ran one Wildcat snap. I included it in the fourth grouping listed (2RB-1TE).