I love movies with surprise endings. I’m just arrogant enough to think that I’m as smart as the guys who made the thing and I can figure it out before they figure it out for me (I’m not that smart – I just think I am). The thing about them is that the clues are there. If you’re really watching, and really thinking about it, you can guess the outcome.
In “The Sixth Sense”, if you had just been paying attention, you would have known that Bruce Willis was actually dead. After a second viewing of movies like “No Way Out”, “Seven”, “The Usual Suspects” or “The Prestige”, you see the clues that you should have seen all along.
Well I’ve been paying attention, close attention, to the Arizona Cardinals all year long. I didn’t see this one coming. 30-17? Nope, not at all.
If the Cardinals could have finished their second half drives with touchdowns instead of field goals they would have annihilated the Vikings. They shot themselves in the foot after the Tim Hightower fumble, and then promptly used the other foot to kick Minnesota in the head.
Minnesota was, I thought, the most complete team in the NFL. I spent an entire afternoon trying to make a case for why the Cardinals could beat Minnesota and I couldn’t do it. The best I come up with was the schedule, one that hinted maybe they weren’t all that. All of the reasons that you thought the Vikings were better, Brett Favre, Adrian Peterson, Jared Allen, the Vikings front four, etc…..all were neutralized.
Favre wasn’t just pedestrian, he was plain awful, looking like the Favre who makes poor decisions and throws balls he shouldn’t (we haven’t seen the Bad-Brett all year). Two picks by Favre, a total that could have been doubled if Adrian Wilson holds on to a couple of balls. Peterson wasn’t the leading rusher or even the second leading rusher on his team. His 19 yards (on 13 carries) was third best on the Vikings. Allen was a non-factor; Kurt Warner had time all night long and very rarely was pressured into bad mistakes. An offensive line that had the same five starters for 31 straight games, did a fantastic job, even with Jeremy Bridges filling in for Mike Gandy (Bridges was singled out after the game by Ken Whisenhunt).
It was a dominant performance by the Cardinals (a word that gets used way too much, but in this case the word fits….). Warner was a welcome sight. Since the stinker against Carolina he has four straight games where his passer rating was 120 or better. Larry Fitzgerald was a force, at times far more open then he had a right to be. Anquan Boldin looked like a guy who wanted to put on a show on national TV. The Steve Breaston return started the whole party. The defense as a whole never let the Vikings do what they wanted to do. The front four harassed Favre all night. Darnell Dockett backed up his interesting choice of words in the paper Sunday morning.
Monday, the Cardinals will be the talk of the NFL. They’ll be in the top five in power polls all across the Internet. Sunday’s win was like a presidential candidate winning a big state in a primary election. And you talk about surprise endings:
Kevin Costner was actually a Russian spy? Kevin Spacey was really Keyser Söze?
Who would have ever thought that with four games left in the NFL season it would be the Pittsburgh Steelers struggling to make the playoffs and the Arizona Cardinals playing as well as anybody in football? Didn’t see that one comin’ did you now?