A whiff of Cardinals optimism

A whiff of Cardinals optimism

Published Jan. 17, 2012 4:35 p.m. ET

While everyone else was still digesting the Giants’ shocking 37-20 win
in Green Bay last weekend (my boss will vouch for me calling that one)
all I could think was: “Wow, the Cardinals beat the team that’s hosting
the NFC Championship game (San Francisco), and they should have beaten
two more of the NFL’s final four.”

I don’t want to spend too much
time recounting the Cards’ two biggest collapses of the season because
this is a feel-good blog. Sure, the Giants scored 21 fourth-quarter
points on Oct. 2 at University of Phoenix Stadium to pull out a 31-27
win. Sure, the Ravens erased a 24-6 halftime deficit on Oct. 30 to win,

The positive point is that the Cards were that close to knocking off two of what turned out to be elite NFL teams.

yet, the Giants, Ravens and 49ers scored points for the
defense-wins-championships crowd. That argument was looking suspect in
what has increasingly become a quarterback-driven league. The Packers
and Patriots finished with the two worst statistical defenses in the
league, yet both secured their tops seeds in their respective
conferences and were threatening to turn the Super Bowl into arena ball.

if the Ravens can beat Patriots, we’ll have a Super Bowl still
populated by strong defenses. New York’s defense was not good during the
regular season, but the personnel was there to be good and it has been
in the postseason. The 49ers defense has been rock solid all year.

a 49ers-Ravens Super Bowl. OK, maybe you’d rather not, but the
importance of defense is encouraging because the Cards appear to have a
good one forming, heading into Ray Horton’s second season. 

Now if they can just find their way out of this quarterback quandary…