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Monday, September 21, 2009
Around the NFC West: Cards answer call

By Mike Sando
ESPN.com


Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando


Dan Bickley of the Arizona Republic says the Cardinals responded to an early test. Bickley: "In the most important September football game this team has played, the visitors started fast and played alert. They left their alibis at home and remembered to pack a sense of urgency next to the toothpaste. They won an early game on the East Coast, avoiding the civic panic and national criticism that would've accompanied defeat."

Also from Bickley: Calais Campbell's blocked field goal try and Antrel Rolle's subsequent touchdown return were the play of the game. Bickley: "It was the sixth touchdown of Rolle's career, and this one tilted a competitive game in favor of the Cardinals. It also atoned for Rolle's terrible day as punt returner, a job he lost to Steve Breaston in the second half."

More from Bickley: Anthony Becht's hustle pays off against the Jaguars.

Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic says Cardinals coach Ken Whisenhunt seemed to alleviate any concerns about his play calling with a terrific effort in Jacksonville. Also, the defense played consistently well. Kurt Warner: "The key to it is we were balanced, and we were able to get the ball out quick. Everybody who had an opportunity made plays, and that's what this offense has been about when we've been at the top of our game. Hopefully this is a start."

Also from Somers: The Cardinals outplayed the Jaguars and got some breaks along the way. Also: "I thought Whisenhunt showed conviction by going with Matt Leinart late in the third quarter. Warner was hurting from a right shoulder stinger suffered last week. I thought back to training camp when Whisenhunt admitted he should have played Leinart more last year when games were out of hand. It can't hurt Leinart's development that the game got close late. I thought he looked decent."

More from Somers: Adrian Wilson gave Beanie Wells a football with Wells' name on it after Wells suffered fumbling problems against the Jaguars. Wilson: "You can't have plays like that. Putting the ball on the ground is forbidden. You have to get that M.O. off yourself as a football player and a running back. If teams know that you fumble, then they'll try to go to the ball all the time."

Darren Urban of azcardinals.com offers thoughts from Week 2. Urban: "Larry Fitzgerald tried to pretend he wasn’t getting upset at not getting many passes, including one point after he looked to be open down the field but didn’t get the ball." Fitzgerald, trying to hide a smile: "I was just tired. It was humid out there today I was just trying to save my energy so that’s why I walked off so slowly. That’s all that was."

Also from Urban: Warner appeared tired, but it was a happy tired.

Vito Stellino of the Florida Times-Union says the Jaguars' pass rush failed to pressure Warner. Stellino: "The Jaguars might have missed defensive end Reggie Hayward, who had their only sack last week but is out for the year with a broken leg. Derrick Harvey played end in place of Hayward while John Henderson played the other end. Harvey had only one tackle. Henderson, who tipped one pass and had three tackles, said Warner was beating them with short passes. His longest completion was only 22 yards."

Garry Smits of the Florida Times-Union implies the Cardinals were protecting Warner's single-game record for completion percentage. Smits: "Arizona Cardinals coach Ken Whisenhunt said he didn't take quarterback Kurt Warner out of the game for the entire fourth quarter because he was trying to protect a record. He claims he didn't know about it until being informed by the media in his postgame news conference and was trying to protect Warner from further re-injuring his right shoulder -- a fact that never appeared on the weekly injury reports."