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Breaston Breaks One

Posted Dec 6, 2009

Notebook: Bridges wins battle with Vikings' Allen; Warner nurses sore hip

Cardinals punt returner Steve Breaston streaks past Vikings punter Chris Kluwe during Breaston's 64-yard return Sunday night.
 
 
Steve Breaston’s first big NFL moment was a 73-yard punt return against the Steelers during his rookie season, a touchdown that led the Cardinals to a big victory.

Breaston didn’t score a touchdown Sunday night, but another big punt return in a big game again helped lead his team to a win, this time 30-17 against the Vikings.

With the Cards trailing, 7-0, Breaston broke off a 64-yard return of a Chris Kluwe punt, getting knocked out at the Minnesota 2-yard line. On the next play, quarterback Kurt Warner hit Anquan Boldin with a touchdown pass that started the Cards’ eventual rout.

“The big thing was we had to respond and it happened to be on special teams,” Breaston said. “You saw LaRod do that last week.”

“LaRod” was LaRod Stephens-Howling, who had a 99-yard kickoff return for a touchdown in Tennessee to answer a big play by the Titans.

“Steve Breaston’s punt return was huge for us,” coach Ken Whisenhunt said.

GANDY OUT, BRIDGES IN

Including the postseason, the Cardinals’ offensive line had started 31 straight games as a unit going into Sunday’s game. Left tackle Mike Gandy had started 75 straight NFL games for Buffalo and Arizona.

All that ended against the Vikings, when Gandy was forced to sit out because of his pelvis injury. Jeremy Bridges started in his place.

“It was a heavyweight bout,” Bridges said.

The Vikings’ vaunted pass rush didn’t sack Warner at all, while Bridges and the offensive line neutralized Pro Bowl pass rushers Jared Allen and Kevin Williams.

“There were times when we did hit him,” Allen said. “There were times where he moved out of the pocket and made plays. We knew that was a challenge coming in. I’m not going to take anything away from them. But do I think if we meet them again it’s a different outcome? Absolutely.”

Bridges said the Cards just played physical.

“Everyone wants to say the Arizona Cardinals are a finesse team, but we’ll hit you in the mouth,” Bridges said.

GOING DEEP

The Cardinals took several shots down the field to wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald, hooking up once on a bomb for a 34-yard touchdown.

“I would have much rather have made a couple of those plays, but I’m appreciative of the opportunities,” Fitzgerald said. “The more time they get the bombs to me, I have to take advantage of them because my team needs me to.”

Warner said while some of those plays were called, some were also the result of what the Vikings’ defense dictated.

“I just think because we were so efficient … (they wanted) to jump some routes and get impatient a little bit,” Warner said.

WARNER’S SORE HIP

Warner said he knew Friday he’d be able to play coming off his concussion, and said after the game he didn’t feel any lingering symptoms from his head injury.

But Warner walked with a limp after the game and said he took a shot on it on the final pass play. Warner did say it was the opposite hip from the one he had surgery on during the offseason.

VIKINGS’ HENDERSON BREAKS LEG

Vikings linebacker E.J. Henderson was carted off late in the game after breaking his leg on a 32-yard run by Cardinals running back Tim Hightower. The Vikings said Henderson was to spend the night in Arizona.

EXTRA POINTS

Besides Warner’s hip, the Cardinals reported no other injuries. …

Favre appearing in his 283rd straight game, breaking the NFL record of former Vikings defensive end  Jim Marshall.
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