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The ‘Same Old Cardinals’ but in a good way

In some ways this game was like finding an old shirt you thought you had donated to Goodwill. It feels new again.

Andre Roberts. Remember him? After five catches for 72 yards a crucial touchdown late in the game, sure you do.

Rob Housler, the burner of a tight end who was pre-ordained for success? He had his first career touchdown to give the Cardinals a 14-7 lead. It only took him 34 games.

Carson Palmer, the quarterback who was supposed to save but instead has stalled? He had one of his most satisfying games of the season. Not ‘Lead Story on Sportscenter’-type stuff, but certainly solid enough to deserve partial credit for the win.

Credit the “new” Cardinals all you want. For me, this game was about the Same Old Cardinals.

No…not those Same Old Cardinals. I’m referring to the Same Old Cardinals who are the reasons why this team wins games. They are why we can have legitimate conversations about the playoffs during a time of year normally reserved for planning Thanksgiving dinner.

This team wins games because of their defense. The unit that held Houston to 41 yards in the second half. The unit that held Quarterback Case Keenum to only seven second half completions. That hit Keenum 10 times and sacked him three. That unit put on a show in the second half of Sunday’s win. Palmer certainly noticed.

“We played against the number one defense in the league today,” Palmer said. “I would take our defense over that defense.”

The only touchdown allowed in the second half came on a short field, gift wrapped by a Rashard Mendenhall fumble and sealed with a Cirque du Soleil catch from Andre Johnson.

But it’s not just the defense. There’s punter Dave Zastudil burying his kicks like a grave digger. Justin Bethel. In what ended up being a three-point game the should-be-a-Pro-Bowler blocked a field goal. Jay Feely — who spent much of August and part of September needing to earn his coaches’ trust — has now hit 15 straight field goals.

I apologize in advance for another boring defense and special teams column, but if you ask me why the Cardinals are dreaming the dream of a playoff spot, that’s my answer.

We can argue about the validity of that dream. The Cards are 5-4 and should make it six wins a week from today in Jacksonville. Can they coax three or four more wins out of a schedule that features home games against the Colts, Rams and 49ers and road games against the Eagles, Titans and Seahawks?

Of course no one knows for sure but of this I’m certain: if they do it will be because of the Same Old Cardinals.

The good kind.

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