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Monday, October 26, 2009
Around the NFC West: Cards make statement

By Mike Sando
ESPN.com

Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando

Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic sizes up the Cardinals' accomplishments during their 24-17 victory over the Giants. Said nose tackle Bryan Robinson: "I'll say it again: When you play the Cardinals, bring your lunch pail. It's not an easy win. It's not where you see us on your schedule and you chalk us up as an easy win. Those days are done. Those are done." Somers named Beanie Wells the key player.

Also from Somers: The Cardinals still used Anquan Boldin effectively despite the receiver's ankle injury. Boldin is an inspiration. Very few players could play wide receiver effectively less than one week after suffering a high ankle sprain. Boldin: "For me, it wasn't a question of whether I was going to go or not. If I was able to move around a little bit, I was going to be out there. It got a little sore and stiff in the second half, and playing on that field turf didn't help."

Dan Bickley of the Arizona Republic says the Cardinals' defense is making them a legitimate playoff contender. Bickley: "Oh, it wasn't perfect. Kurt Warner was shaky. The play calling was suspect. The Cardinals left many big plays on the field and didn't give the ball to Beanie Wells nearly enough. But the defense was good enough to overcome every little flaw, even a fluke touchdown that would've sunk a lesser team." The play calling will improve, in my view, once the Cardinals more fully trust Wells in pass protection. Once that happens, opponents will have a harder time figuring out the Cardinals' intentions when Wells is in the game.

Also from Bickley: Adrian Wilson's interception was the key play in the game.

Scott Bordow of the East Valley Tribune says the Cardinals' victory over the Giants was no accident. Bordow: "Arizona didn’t beat New York on a fluke play or with a lucky bounce. It walked into Giants Stadium and manhandled the boys in blue."

Also from Bordow: Alan Branch collected the first two sacks of his NFL career.

Darren Urban of azcardinals.com says the team's confidence is off the charts right now. Urban: "I’ve been covering the Cardinals full-time since 2000, and I can’t remember –- and this includes last year's playoff run –- a time when the confidence felt more all-encompassing than it does right now. That’s why they could overcome some of the bad breaks in New York. They believe. You want to talk about a culture change in the franchise, that’s one major tell right there."

Also from Urban: The Cardinals kept their poise after allowing a freak touchdown reception.

More from Urban: Arizona' secondary perseveres. Urban: "Almost every defensive back was dealing with some sort of ding by the end of the game. Even nickel corner Ralph Brown was forced to play some safety on the final drive."

More still from Urban: The Cardinals' performance might change national perceptions.