The Arizona Cardinals continued their amazing play in the second half of the season on Sunday by knocking out their division rivals, the San Francisco 49ers, 21-19.
The win ended a five-game losing streak to the 49ers.
Head coach Ken Whisenhunt spoke on Monday, and said it was a total team effort, with no one side deserving more credit than the other.
“There’s no offense vs. defense or anything like that,” Whisenhunt said. “Guys are just playing football, and they’re expecting to be successful.”
John Skelton was thrust into the starter’s role at quarterback after Kevin Kolb went out with a head injury and never returned. Skelton wound up with a big game, going 19-of-28 for 282 yards, three touchdowns and two interceptions.
Whisenhunt said that the team tried to attack the 49ers defense a number of different ways with Skelton and were successful for the most part.
“We gotta eliminate those interceptions,” Whisenhunt said. “That was more decision-making than anything.”
The defense played stellar ball on Sunday, holding the 49ers to 233 yards of total offense. Two more stats of note: San Francisco had just two first downs in the second half, and Alex Smith was sacked five times. That’s the second straight game where the defense has gotten to the opposing quarterback five times.
“A lot of guys have raised their level of play,” Whisenhunt said. “They’re playing with much better technique.”
Most impressive about sacks is that the last 10 have come from eight different players, which pleases Whisenhunt.
“It makes you much more difficult to defend when you do that,” he said.
Besides all the recent success, the talk of playoffs has popped up, since the Cardinals are mathematically in the hunt for a wild card spot. Whisenhunt is well aware of this, but wants everyone to know that he and his team are focused strictly on their next opponent on Sunday, the Cleveland Browns.
“None of it [playoffs] matters if we don’t win this week,” Whisenhunt said. “Our focus is to continue to improve.”
Along with playoff talk, there’s a strong possibility that the team will finish the season with a .500 or better record, especially with two of their last three games at home. Whisenhunt talked about what it would be like to finish with a winning record, especially after their nightmarish start to the season.
“It’d be unbelievable,” Whisenhunt said. “I think it’d be very significant for the character of our football team.”
They’ll face a Browns team on Sunday who could be without their starting quarterback, Colt McCoy, who suffered a concussion after taking a helmet-to-helmet shot from Steelers linebacker James Harrison last Thursday night in Pittsburgh, Pa.
McCoy reported to practice on Monday, but was sent home.