Cardinals' Defense Holds Off Giants

Cardinals beat Giants, 24-17

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    NEWSLETTERS

    TK
    AP
    Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald, right, is tackled by Giants defensive tackle Fred Robbins during the second quarter of the game Sunday, Oct. 25, 2009, in East Rutherford, N.J.

    The Arizona Cardinals conquered their House of Horrors, thanks to an opportunistic defense and big plays by their veterans.

    Arizona erased some bad memories in its last regular-season visit to Giants Stadium, forcing four turnovers and bewildering Eli Manning with its blitzes in a 24-17 victory Sunday night.

    The Cardinals finished 3-15 at the Meadowlands, but this win lifted the defending NFC champions into first place in the West Division at 4-2 with their third straight win.

    Kurt Warner, who was 6-2 as a starter with the Giants in 2004, threw one TD pass and got plenty of help from star receiver Larry Fitzgerald and a staunch defense led by safety Adrian Wilson.

    "Tonight," Warner said, "we definitely fed off our defense."

    Wilson had an interception and a fumble recovery, Antrel Rolle picked off Manning to clinch it, and less-heralded Cardinals Jason Wright, Tim Hightower and rookie Beanie Wells found the end zone.

    The Giants (5-2) lost their second straight and were let down by, of all people, their normally solid punter. Jeff Feagles struggled, helping give the Cardinals a solid edge in field position for much of the prime-time matchup.

    Feagles said he used the wrong kicking angles trying to keep the ball away from returner Steve Breaston.

    Wilson, Rolle and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, who left late in the third quarter with an ankle injury — X-rays were negative — in the Arizona secondary benefited from the confusion the defense caused for Manning, who was 19 for 37 and threw three interceptions.

    "We played team defense," Rodgers-Cromartie said. "Everybody stepped up. When we had interception opportunities, we made them."

    And they made the Giants look puzzled on offense.

    "They are constantly moving around and flipping safeties and they did a good job with that," center Shaun O'Hara said. "Sometimes we caught them and sometimes they caught us."

    Rodgers-Cromartie was the featured character in two noteworthy first-half plays that both wound up in the end zone. He ran stride for stride with Domenik Hixon, then leaped to wrestle the ball away from the receiver in Arizona's end zone in the first quarter.

    He went from hero to villain in the second period on a bizarre play. In man coverage against Mario Manningham, Rodgers-Cromartie used another acrobatic leap. But he deflected the ball with his left hand about 15 yards downfield, where Hakeem Nicks caught it in stride and sped to his fourth touchdown in as many games. That 62-yarder put New York ahead 14-7.

    Quickly, the Cardinals got some points back. Anquan Boldin, questionable for the prime-time game with an ankle injury, beat Bruce Johnson for a 44-yard catch-and-run to the New York 19. Neil Rackers' 30-yard field goal ended the first-half scoring.

    The Giants used a replay challenge to thwart Arizona's opening drive. Justin Tuck forced Hightower to lose the ball at the New York 27, but officials ruled Hightower down before the ball came out. Coach Tom Coughlin flung his red flag and the call was overruled.

    That didn't help the Giants much, but another turnover did. Warner threw short of Fitzgerald, who had only two receptions for 14 yards in the opening half. Terrell Thomas got his third career interception, second against Warner, and New York went 29 yards on two runs by Brandon Jacobs, who ran over safety Wilson for a 4-yard TD.

    Wells ran 13 yards for his first NFL touchdown late in the second quarter after mediocre punting by Feagles, the oldest punter in the league at 43. Feagles really struggled in the third quarter, as well, helping the Cardinals. But not as much as team leaders Fitzgerald and Wilson.

    Fitzgerald broke free down the middle for 26- and 27-yard completions after Arizona got the ball at its 45 on Feagles' 35-yard punt. Hightower scored from the 1.

    Wilson picked off Manning at New York's 20 when defensive end Calais Campbell tipped a pass, and third-string running back Wright scored on a 6-yard middle screen — the same play the Cardinals used to beat Philadelphia in January's NFC title game — to make it 24-14.

    "We feel like we've got one of the best defenses in the league," Boldin said. "It's tough for teams to move the ball on them, let alone score on them."

    Lawrence Tynes' concluded the scoring with a 20-yard field goal with 8:14 to go.