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Cards Make A Run With Powell

Posted Oct 14, 2012

Running back plays well in first extended work in overtime loss to Bills

Running back William Powell carries the ball for some of his 70 rushing yards Sunday.

The questions were long.

The answers were short.

Cardinals running back William Powell stood at his locker after an overtime field goal by the Buffalo Bills won Sunday’s game 19-16, as the center of attention. He’d been surrounded by cameras before, but this was different. He’d never been a team’s top rusher on national TV.

In just his third NFL game, Powell shouldered the load of a rushing game that’s been stripped of its top two options and ran for a career-high 70 yards -- 63 more than his previous career best.

Since Ryan Williams was ruled out for the season with a shoulder injury, the questions about how the Cardinals’ running game would fare against the Bills stacked up. But a season-high 182 yards on the ground appeared to answer almost all of them.

“It was much improved,” receiver Larry Fitzgerald said. “We really put a big emphasis on that. I think William Powell did a good job for us creating his own lanes.

“Across the board, I think we were happy with the way we ran the football. It’s just the points. We have to score more points.”

Those answers, however, weren’t so obvious early Sunday.

The Cardinals ran for just six yards in the first quarter, but started to find holes in the second. By midway through the second quarter running behind the tackles proved not to be a viable option. The Bills stacked as many as eight or nine defenders in the box, cutting off any chance of breaking a run up in the middle.

So the Cardinals went outside. They found room on the edges and it eventually set up their only touchdown of the game. With six minutes left in the second quarter, Powell ran off the left end for 17 yards to the Buffalo 14 and two plays later Fitzgerald caught a touchdown pass.

“They didn’t really want to give us anything up the middle so the coaching staff did a good job of adjusting to that and getting around the edge,” Powell said. “Eventually we had a couple runs that opened up the inside.

“We just want to get the running game going any way we can. We’re not too worried about getting on the inside or outside. We help the passing game by running the ball.”

The balance on the touchdown drive is what the Cardinals have been looking for all season. Powell’s four runs offset six passes on that series. As Fitzgerald pointed out after the game, it kept the Bills off balance.

“Anytime you have good balance you’re going to be successful,” Powell said. “You can run the ball. We already proved we can throw the ball. If we can run the ball I feel like we have good drives and feel like we can sustain drives.”

The running-back-by-committee philosophy worked Sunday. LaRod Stephens-Howling added 22 yards but instead of Alfonso Smith as the third of the trio, quarterback Kevin Kolb filled that role.

Before he was knocked out of the game in the fourth quarter with a rib injury, Kolb rushed for 66 yards – second most on the team – including a long of 22 to compliment runs of 18 and 12.

“He was making good decisions running the ball,” Powell said. “He looked good out there. He looks good running the ball.”

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