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Cardinals defense continues improvement

The Arizona Cardinals have been winners in four of their
last five games to improve their record to a respectable

There have been many keys to the recent surge: Patrick
Peterson’s electrifying punt returns, Beanie Wells’ hard-
nosed running and clutch plays from quarterbacks John
Skelton and Kevin Kolb at opportune times.

But the biggest key, by far, has been the play of the
Cardinals’ defense, which seems to be getting the hang of
new defensive coordinator Ray Horton’s scheme.

During a 6-game losing streak, the Cardinals allowed
opponents 376.3 yards per game, and 256.7 through the air.
In their last four wins, Arizona’s defense has stiffened,
most notably against the pass, allowing an average of just
200.8 yards per game.

A lot of that has to do with the continuing improvement of
young cornerbacks Patrick Peterson and A.J. Jefferson, as
well as an improved pass rush. The Cardinals have
averaged 3.3 quarterback sacks per game during their four
recent wins, as opposed to 2.0 during their losing streak.
On Sunday, they sacked Dallas quarterback Tony Romo 5

Following the Cardinals’ latest win, defensive lineman
Darnell Dockett talked about the increased understanding
the players have with Horton’s scheme.

“We have learned it and we work on it at practice. We
might make a few mistakes here and there, but we hold it
down for each other,” Dockett said. “We are communicating
in between plays, on the sideline and after plays. We are
just building our chemistry.”

The Cardinals are also keeping opponents out of the end
zone. Arizona has allowed just three offensive touchdowns
in their last four wins, and when teams settle for a field
goal attempt, that hasn’t been a guarantee either; the
Cardinals have blocked three field goals in their last 5

“This speaks a lot of our players that we were able to
finish the last four or five games the way our defense has
played, so it’s really good to see our guys believing in
what we are doing and playing good ball,” head coach Ken
Whisenhunt said.