If there's another word for what happened Thursday night in Glendale, AZ at the University of Phoenix Stadium other than "dominate" we don't know what it is. The Arizona Cardinals controlled every aspect of this game from the opening kick and beat the Denver Broncos 26-7 to close out the 2011 NFL preseason.
With Kevin Kolb only playing one quick series, it was backup QB Richard Bartel who moved the ball for 216 yards (12-16) and two touch downs in just under a half of work. On the game the Cardinals offense totaled 398 yards and 19 first downs.
Defensively, the Cardinals were even more impressive. They held the Broncos to just 106 total yards and forced two turnovers before a couple of late drives inflated the numbers.
"They did well," Coach Ken Whisenhunt said at half time. "Guys stepped up and made plays. It's a good things to see. It's been like that for us throughout preseason, and it's good to see some of our guys that haven't had a lot of reps in games do that. It's helping build a strong team going into the season."
It's difficult in a game like this to judge performances but it seemed the newly acquired cornerback Fred Bennett played well up until he got burned for a touchdown in single coverage last in the fourth quarter. Prior to that he broke up several passing plays. Rich Bartel went a long way to solidify the backup QB role over the injured John Skelton.
Chasni Stuckey (99 yards, 4 rec, 1 TD) and Stephen Williams (37 yards, 3 rec) caught the ball well. Backup to the backup's backup Williams Powell ran the ball the majority of the game with Alfonso Smith (hamstring) unable to go. Powell finished with 29 carries for 60 yards.
Arizona had just four penalties for the game including three on the offensive end.
The Cardinals suffered one injury of note in this game, a reported pectoral strain to tight end Jim Dray. The Broncos took a few more hits that could prove costly.
With the win, the Cardinals finish the preseason 2-2 although the first unit played very well in both losses which came against top tier NFL talent. It's only the preseason, but it's hard to consider these past four games anything but a success outside of the two season-ending injuries (Ryan Williams and Greg Toler) suffered by the team.
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