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Best Players Boost Big Win

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Anquan Boldin (left) and Antrel Rolle (21) congratulate Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie for his game-clinching interception in Sunday's 26-20 win at Seattle.

SEATTLE – They dressed meticulously, the linchpins of the Cardinals' offense.

The throng of media wanted to talk to both, but for the most part, the cameras and recorders had to wait until suits were on and diamond earrings were back in place.

The Cardinals had recorded a crucial 26-20 victory at Qwest Field, this place that they usually couldn't. They took another step – not the last, but the largest – toward what has become an inevitable NFC West title. And the Cardinals needed

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to lean on Anquan Boldin and Larry Fitzgerald, their two star wide receivers, to do so.

The numbers were crazy. Boldin had 13 receptions for 186 yards and Fitzgerald had 10 for 151, the first time in franchise history – and remember, this is a franchise whose records go back to the 1920s – when two receivers have cracked 150 yards in the same game.

And it felt like every single yard was necessary.

"Those are my security blankets right there," quarterback Kurt Warner said. "Anytime I need something, you know I am going to know where '81' and '11' are at all times.

"It doesn't surprise us. I think it becomes old hat and we don't appreciate them enough."

Fitzgerald played modest, talking about how he and Boldin were the recipients of "pretty good throws" by Warner. Boldin simply said in a big game, big players make plays.

"They called our number often today so that's what we tried to do – make plays," Boldin said.

The Cardinals needed a lot of plays Sunday. What looked like what could have been a blowout victory – and, to be sure, there were plenty of players lamenting the missed opportunity and message on that front – turned scary close at the end.

The offense suddenly couldn't score or get enough first downs. Fitzgerald and Boldin proved mortal; Fitzgerald couldn't shield cornerback Kelly Jennings enough to make what would have been a game-sealing catch. Boldin, trying for a first down to himself seal the game, allowed himself to be shoved out of bounds to stop the clock, gaining just 12 of the necessary 18 yards.

There were other picks to nit. Linebacker Karlos Dansby made the interception in the end zone that should have stomped on the Seahawks with the Cards up 26-7 but the play didn't end before Dansby had fumbled it right back.

"I was trying to make an even bigger play," Dansby said. "It was a selfish situation."

Warner had his fourth straight 300-yard game – a franchise record – and 395 yards, all while making sure the Cards punted just twice. Unfortunately, that included Warner losing a fumble and throwing an interception, each setting up Seattle touchdowns on short fields.

Warner said he needed to trust his teammates more, admittedly waiting too long on the interception. "That's what seems to get us and specifically me in trouble is when I don't just play football and trust the guys around me," he said.

Then again, the Cardinals had said all along beating the Seahawks in Seattle wasn't going to be easy. Defensive tackle Darnell Dockett talked about payback – "That's what we talked about before we hit the field; we wanted payback and our emotions took over," he said – and after the final kneel-down, the Cardinals seemed satisfied despite the end-of-game drama.

Winning in Seattle was monumental along this winding path the Cards have traveled to become a winner. No one better understood that than one of the linchpins.

"(Only) the people in the locker room really knew what it meant," Boldin said. "We hear a lot of talk about people doubting us, well, they haven't played anybody and … what we did today, speaks for itself.

"They said the road comes through Seattle. We came through here and took care of business."


Contact Darren Urban at askdarren@cardinals.nfl.net. Posted 11/16/08.

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