Arizona Cardinals 32, Philadelphia Eagles 25
The story of this game was Cardinals offensive coordinator Todd Haley out-coaching Eagles defensive coordinator Jim Johnson. Aside from the third quarter, Haley was one step ahead of Johnson’s blitzes all afternoon. Those who know Haley from his days as the receivers coach in Dallas can see that he has a far more authoritative demeanor on the sidelines. He’ll be the hottest head coaching candidate on the market this time next year…assuming he doesn’t get a new job before then.
Haley’s best move on the day was utilizing a two-tight end set late in the contest to help neutralize Philly’s blitz. Anquan Boldin wasn’t a big fan of it – Fox cameras caught the receiver bickering with the play-caller – but it was wildly successful.
I continue to be shocked – shocked – at how springy Edgerrin James looks.
One Cardinals lineman who has been good for several years but has never received proper recognition is Reggie Wells. His mobility is a big part of Arizona’s run-blocking scheme.
Brian Westbrook did not look like his usual self at all Sunday.
We talked about this a few months ago: one of the biggest differences in this Eagles offense down the stretch was Brent Celek replacing L.J. Smith in the lineup.
Maybe this is a cheap shot, but….do you think Andy Reid will one day be remembered not only as the Eagles head coach, but also as the NFC Pro Bowl team head coach?
Donovan McNabb had some accuracy issues in this game, and who knows, maybe it would have been a different outcome had all his passes been on target. But overall, I thought McNabb played well in the postseason, particularly in extending the play when he had to. Keep in mind, Philly’s offense had a lethargic rushing attack in the three playoff games, and the front five was, at times, inconsistent in pass protection.
Domonique Rodgers-Cromartie might be the biggest factor in Arizona’s stunning turnaround. The first-round rookie is almost a shutdown corner already (he gave up a few catches to DeSean Jackson in this game, though none of them were because of terrible coverage).
Another Cardinal who has really upped his game is Karlos Dansby. Once known for his maddening inconsistency, Dansby is now primed to earn a huge long-term contract this offseason.
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