Safety Antrel Rolle (21) is congratulated by teammates Eric Green (25) and Rod Hood after Rolle's touchdown Sunday in St. Louis.
The Cardinals were in trouble Sunday, and Antrel Rolle saved them.
Trailing 7-0 and looking less than efficient on offense, the Cardinals scuffled until Rolle's 40-yard interception return for a touchdown changed the game. It sparked a 24-point second quarter, and it was the main reason Rolle was named NFC defensive player of the week Tuesday.
"I think (the return) swung the momentum back our way," coach Ken Whisenhunt said. "We had a tremendous amount (of momentum) after our first drive and not getting in (for a score) hurt us. Then we had some opportunities and did some dumb things and didn't make some plays, so (Antrel) really got us going again. It was huge."
Rolle called it his best game of the season. The transition from cornerback to free safety had not been easy for the fourth-year pro. His tackling had been an issue, magnified when he was the one to take a bad angle and miss Steve Smith on Smith's controversial 65-yard touchdown catch along the sideline in Carolina.
Rolle, who missed a chunk of the preseason with an ankle injury, clearly made a concerted effort to improve his tackling. That was apparent in the Rams' game, when he made several solid stops among his team-high seven.
"It's disappointing Antrel missed a great part of the preseason because that's when you learn about the position and get those reps," Whisenhunt said. "He's been a little behind the 8-ball making that transition."
The interception return, however, is something Rolle has already perfected. He had three interception returns for touchdowns last season (with one called back on a bad penalty flag) and his four career returns is third in franchise history behind Aeneas Williams (six) and Larry Wilson (five).
"That is something we emphasized this week (as a defense), go get the ball try and get turnovers," Rolle said after the game.
The award was Rolle's third, after winning NFC defensive player of the week twice last season. The Cardinals also had quarterback Kurt Warner win offensive player of the week and Sean Morey win special teams player of the week earlier this season. The only other year the franchise has captured all three awards was 1993.
Contact Darren Urban at email@example.com. Posted 11/4/08.