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100-yard effort not enough to propel Arizona’s offense

The running game has been no friend of the Arizona Cardinals.

Prior to LaRod Stephens-Howling picking up 104 yards on 20 carries in Sunday’s loss to the Minnesota Vikings, no Cardinal had reached triple-digit rushing yards in a single game this year.

“I’d say the second series,” Stephens-Howling said of when he felt he was going to have a good game Sunday. “I ran to the outside and I just felt like our offensive line, they did a great job of getting me to the second level.

“Once we can do that it doesn’t matter what back is in the game, we have backs that can make people miss after we get through the second level.”

Stephens-Howling’s effort follows a solid game from William Powell, and suddenly the Cardinals are showing signs of life on the ground.

“He was a warrior [Sunday], he was tough, ran the ball well,” Whisenhunt said of Stephens-Howling. “You know, William ran it well the week before and LaRod kind of got back in the groove.”

That “groove” led to the team’s best individual rushing effort of the season. It was the most yards any Arizona back has tallied in a single game were the 83 Ryan Williams gained against the Philadelphia Eagles in Week 3.

“We ran the football against a very good run defense this past week and we ran it effectively,” Cardinals coach Ken Whisenhunt said Monday. “LaRod did a good job, the offensive line blocked in the run game well.”

Still, the Cardinals scored just 14 points on the afternoon, a number that won’t be good enough to win most weeks. But the hope is a stronger running game will make things easier for the rest of the offense.

“I would say if we can continue to run the ball that will open up some play-action opportunities for us,” Whisenhunt said.

As important as the running game can be, what’s maybe even more important is winning the turnover battle. Thet Cardinals coughed the ball up twice in Minnesota, including an interception that was returned for a touchdown.

“What we can’t do is make the mistakes,” Whisenhunt said. “Turnovers and those kind of things.”