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Sunday Night Shootout

Offenses of Cardinals, Colts expected to energize national TV game


The Cardinals, who scored 31 points last week (including this Jason Wright touchdown catch), are expected to have a high-scoring game against the Colts.
Ken Whisenhunt didn't need long to answer the question about what had impressed him about the Indianapolis Colts during their win Monday night.

"They are scary," the Cardinals coach said.

How could that not have been the impression when quarterback Peyton Manning didn't need even 15 minutes of possession time to score 27 points in a 27-23 victory over the Dolphins? After two games against the less-than-explosive offenses of the 49ers and Jaguars, the Cardinals see their doppelganger of points potential on the nationally televised "Sunday Night Football."

Underneath the hype will be the reality the Cards -- who have their early bye the following weekend and then a tough stretch of games that include two against the Seahawks, the Giants, Texans and Panthers – need to win.

That's what losing the first game to the 49ers, at home, meant. The Cardinals believed University of Phoenix Stadium would be a heavy advantage this season, yet a loss to the Colts would make them 0-2 at home.

That's not the focus, tackle Levi Brown said, although he acknowledged "we didn't set the bar very high in our first game."

The offenses will be the focus. Manning on one side, Cardinals quarterback Kurt Warner, fresh off his record-setting accuracy in Jacksonville, on the other. Both players praised the other this week, but also were averse to turning it into a head-to-head matchup.

"You're going to have to put points up on the board to beat him," Warner said. "It's not, 'I want to go in and have better stats.' Who cares?"

The stats themselves don't equate to a win, but they are likely a necessary by-product.

"It certainly puts a lot of pressure on yourself and your offense to score points because we know we are going to need to score points," Manning said. "We know it will be tough to hold Arizona to field goals like we did with the Dolphins."

One of the reasons the Colts had the ball for just 14 minutes and 53 seconds in Miami is because the Dolphins controlled the clock with 239 yards rushing. It's unlikely, as well as the running back tandem of Tim Hightower and Beanie Wells is progressing, the Cards will suddenly run the ball so often.

Besides, Whisenhunt cautioned, just because the Colts struggled to stop the run against Miami does not mean they have a poor run defense. The Cardinals are also better throwing the ball, and no team wants to abandon what it does well.

"A lot of people are expecting a shootout," Cardinals cornerback Bryant McFadden said, before adding "Hopefully, it will be a lot better for Kurt Warner than Peyton Manning."

A win would also salvage much of the criticism leveled against the Cards after their uninspiring preseason and that opening loss. Beating the Colts would likely catapult them back into the national talk.

"We would love to be 2-0," Cardinals receiver Larry Fitzgerald said, "but we are 1-1 after getting a good win down in Jacksonville and we have the opportunity of a lifetime playing the Colts on 'Sunday Night Football.'

"Who wouldn't get excited about that?"

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