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Cardinals defense bends but never breaks

GLENDALE, Ariz. — To put it simply, the Arizona
Cardinals defense did a lot of bending but never broke in
their 19-13 overtime win against the St. Louis Rams.

On paper the Cardinals defense had a rough day.

Between the lines — where it counts — the Cardinals
defense was strong and resilient.

“I can’t tell you what it means for a defense when you
have a performance like that. Our group has been together
for 10 weeks, 11 weeks now, trying to learn this defense,”
Cardinals coach Ken Whisenhunt said after the victory.

The Rams offense gained 383 yards on 75 offensive plays.
Steven Jackson had 130 of the 150 the Rams had on the
ground and Sam Bradford threw for 255.

All those yards and not once did any of those plays end
with the Rams putting the ball in the endzone.

Time after time the Cardinals defense gave up yards but no
points. Of the Rams 13 points, four of those came on back-
to-back possessions that ended with a safety for the
Cardinals offense.

In 13 drives the Cardinals forced three three-and-outs. On
eight of those drives the Rams had 24 or more yards of
offense.

While the Rams weren’t exactly going in for a touchdown,
they did have a chance to end the game as they lined up
for a 42-yard field goal on the final play. A huge push by
the defensive line and the big paw of the Cardinals’
tallest player — Calais Campbell — blocked the field
goal and sent it to overtime.

Bending but not breaking.

“They were running up and down the field,” Cardinals
linebacker Daryl Washington said. “We just stuck together
as a defense and as a team. We made more plays than they
did at the end of the day.”

In the end the bending paid off as the offense scored
their lone touchdown in a game-tying John Skelton pass to
Larry Fitzgerald and rookie cornerback Patrick Peterson
took a punt return 99 yards in overtime to win the game.

“I knew it was gutsy,” Peterson said of fielding the ball
near the goal line. “I’m just trying to make a play for
this team.”

All season this defense has had to answer questions about
learning new defensive coordinator Ray Horton’s scheme and
philosophy.

Sunday showed signs of improvement.

“We will continue making progress each and every week,”
Peterson said of the defense.