For starters, seven points
The Cardinals got off to exactly the kind of start every home team wants. They won the coin toss, opted to receive the kickoff and proceeded to march 80 yards in nine plays to take the lead and create an uproar among the crowd. It was a stunning blow to the Eagles defense, which seemed powerless to get off the field as Kurt Warner completed 4 of 4 passes for 44 yards. There were several big plays on the drive, including Edgerrin James' 16-yard sweep around left end. James ripped off a 12-yard run on the next play, taking the ball to the Eagles 12. James finished with 33 yards on four carries during the possession. Larry Fitzgerald capped it with a 9-yard touchdown catch.
Defense gets done in
The Eagles had won in this postseason with a simple formula: defense. It allowed them to triumph against the Giants last week and, in part, got them into the playoffs in the first place. But the defense looked lost Sunday, and its letdowns led to defeat. Arizona's 454 total yards were startling considering it was amassed against a defense that allowed just 274.3 yards per game in the regular season, third fewest in the NFL. "We just weren't able to pressure the quarterback as well as we should have," Eagles coach Andy Reid said.
One last look
The masterful job done by the Cardinals defense might have had something to do with the horrible taste left in its mouths after a painful but necessary Saturday morning exercise. CB Antrel Rolle implored teammates to report to the training facility 90 minutes early to watch the Eagles' 48-20 Thanksgiving Day shellacking of the Cardinals. "We were so sick to our stomachs," DT Darnell Dockett said. Sunday, Arizona used an assortment of blitzes to keep QB Donovan McNabb off-balance. Maybe that last viewing did some good. "We got punked in every (area) of the game," Dockett said. "Linebackers, secondary, everybody got punked on Thanksgiving Day. And that's not us.
Plays worth another look: A run … nope — a 62-yard TD
It was vintage Larry Fitzgerald. Leading 7-3 early in the second quarter, the Cardinals called a trick play. QB Kurt Warner took the snap and pitched the ball to RB Tim Hightower for an apparent running play. Hightower, indeed, ran to his left but stopped, turned and tossed the ball back to Warner, who found Fitzgerald down the middle of the field. And Fitzgerald did what he always does: He went airborne and caught the ball at its highest point. S Quintin Demps leaped, too, but landed on his face. Fitzgerald caught the ball at the 13 and went in for a 62-yard touchdown. "That was a play that we had seen on tape that got past Philadelphia in past years," Fitzgerald said. "And we thought it would be something that we might be able to hit them with."
Q&A: Tim Hightower
Describe the winning touchdown with 2:53 left:
It was a great play call, and it was great execution all the way around. Kurt (Warner) came in the huddle, and it started there. He believed it was going to work no matter what play was called. Our whole offense believed.
You picked up several big first downs. How critical were those conversions at key moments?
That's what it takes in this game. You have to find a way to get first downs and control the clock.
Are people starting to believe in this team?
For the past couple weeks, it's been about guys in this locker room believing in each other. We push each other in practice, and we all around, top to bottom, believe in ourselves. We have one more time to do it.
Eagles keep ball on
After Larry Fitzgerald's third touchdown of the first half, with 3:06 left, the Cardinals seemed poised to put the game away. Neil Rackers' short kickoff veered toward the sideline, where Philadelphia's Victor Abiamiri appeared to touch it before the ball ricocheted back toward the middle of the field. Monty Beisel swept in to recover it, giving Arizona the ball. Not so fast. Officials ruled the ball touched the sideline and gave the Eagles the ball at the 27. And because the kick going out of bounds results in a dead ball, the Cardinals could not challenge the play. "The line judge ruled that the ball touched the receiving team player and then touched out of bounds," referee Walt Anderson said, "which makes the ball dead at that spot."
Cardinals' Ken Whisenhunt on what WR Larry Fitzgerald is capable of:
"I see it every day. I think the biggest steps we have made is that our quarterbacks trust Larry. In some situations, we have to throw the ball up to him because he is pretty darned consistent making those plays."
. Eagles' Andy Reid on losing after taking a fourth-quarter lead:
"I expected the guys to step up. They expected to step up, but it didn't happen."