The Arizona Cardinals are on the cusp of clinching the NFC West, and it's not even Thanksgiving yet. They received a good litmus test today, as the best team in the NFL visited them in the desert. The Cards found out they aren't quite there yet, but when the dust settles they need to realize this game showed they are quite close to joining the upper echelon in the NFL.
The little things separated them.
- Domenik Hixon averaged 60 yards per return via kickoff, allowing the Giants incredible field position for most of the day.
- A botched extra point meant the Cards were going to have to go for two eventually.
- The Cardinals twiced attempted onside kicks, and twice came up empty-handed. On the first attempt, Rackers connected on possible the best onside kick I've ever seen. The ball went far enough airborne for the Cards to get players into position, and it bounced right into the hands of Ralph Brown. Brown dropped it, and the Giants recovered.
Of course, they also lost the turnover battle, 2-0. That is definitely not a "little thing."
While the Cardinals may focus on what could have been in terms of missed opportunities, the Giants just did what they do. They won. Aside from a game which seems like it was some sort of sick joke at this point -- seriously, how does this team lose to Derek Anderson? -- they just don't lose football games. They ran the ball well enough to kill some clock late in the game, converted all their special teams plays well, passed efficiently, and totally eliminated the run from the Cardinals offense.
Kurt Warner threw for 351 yards and a touchdown. Yes, I know he was the culprit in each of the two turnovers, but he was playing one of the best defenses in the league. He also put his team in position for their two rushing touchdowns, so I still like him as the league MVP for the year at this point. Of course, Peter King's entire MMQB column tomorrow is going to focus on a "Brett Favre for MVP" platform. I can't remember ever being as sure about something as I am about this. You just wait and see.
The Cardinals, despite the loss, already have the NFC West wrapped up.
The Giants basically have the NFC in their hands at this point.
We may actually see this game again in New York in January. Let's hope the Cards have adjusted to East coast travel a bit better before then. That would seem to be their biggest weakness at this point, as they are currently 0-3 in the Eastern time zone.
Giants 37, Cardinals 29: Special Teams, Turnovers Doom Cardinals originally appeared on NFL FanHouse on Sun, 23 Nov 2008 20:05:00 EST . Please see our terms for use of feeds.