What balance means for the Cardinals

January, 4, 2009
1/04/09
12:18
AM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando

PHOENIX -- The Cardinals' ground game was effective against the Falcons without amassing fat yardage totals.

We saw that in Arizona's ability to succeed with play-action passes. According to Jason Paradise of ESPN Stats & Information, Warner completed 8 of 8 passes for 121 yards, one touchdown and a perfect 158.3 rating on play-action passes. When Warner did not fake a handoff, he completed 11 of 24 attempts for 150 yards with one touchdown, one interception and a 62.8 rating.

Those numbers reflect what Warner is talking about when he discusses what balance means to an offense. He's not talking about having as many carries as passes. He's not talking about having as many yards rushing as passing. He's talking about what the threat of a running game can mean for a team with Pro Bowl players at quarterback and receiver.

The coaching staff leaned on the run early and revisited it late. The offensive line seemed to block well most of the time. "You can't run flea flickers and play action without those guys blocking well," Larry Fitzgerald said.

Warner completed all three pass attempts for 63 yards when using play action on the final drive. That helped the Cardinals hold the ball for the final 4:15.

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