So the Cards have a highly rated secondary? So what?
In one of the most talked about match-ups, you have Arizona’s Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie (DRC for this post’s purpose) against the Steelers Santonio Holmes.Â Sure, I think DRC is fast, he’s got talent and physical strength.Â He’ll be able to give Santonio a workout on Sunday, no doubt.Â While the rookie CB didn’t start his first game until early November, he’s tied for the NFL Rookie Interceptions and has returned one for a TD.Â The kid will eventually be one of the leading CB’s in the league.Â Eventually.Â But not on Sunday.
DRC will have to step up to stop Holmes.Â Santonio is good at using double moves to get a defender off his back and probably one of his strengths is getting free when Big Ben is in scramble mode outside the pocket.Â Still, DRC is a threat.Â He’ll be able to limit Santonio’s big plays.Â However, it doesn’t take a ton of big plays to win a game.Â In just his third year, Santonio has been a consistent go-to guy with 55 catches, 821 yards and 5 TDs.Â Granted, it’s not his breakout year, but he’s a good receiver and someone the Steelers can count on when they need him.
I also don’t think the Cards should underestimate Hines Ward.Â He’s doing everything he needs to do right now to get his knee into shape.Â Hines at just 50% is a threat.Â He’s got 81 catches for more than a thousand yeards and 7 TD’s this year.Â He’s great when he gets the ball in his hands and equally as great when he doesn’t and he’s making blocks.Â Hines Ward is one of the most underrated receivers in the league.Â He’s going to get you either way, either with a catch or a hard hit.Â Watch him.Â The Cardinals Rod Hood will most likely be responsible for covering Hines.Â Hood played in the Super Bowl four years ago with the Eagles, so he understands the pressure of the game.Â Just this post-season, he’s got 11 tackles and has broken up 4 passes.
The added strength in the Cardinals secondary comes from safeties Adrian Wilson and Antrel Rolle.Â Wilson has spent the last 8 seasons with the Cardinals and is probably their best blitzer.Â He’s got 75 tackles and 2 interceptions.Â But good safeties have to play the run and the pass games equally.Â Antrel Rolle has returned 4 of 8 interceptions for TD’s.Â He plays the game more like Ed Reed than Troy Polamalu.
On the surface, the Cardinals secondary seems like a tough match for the Steelers offense.Â The House of Cards tumbles though, when you realize that Pittsburgh is winning NOT when they have to rely on the passing game and Big Ben, but when they run the ball.Â Unfortunately, the best part of the Cardinals defense is the secondary.
Expect Willie Parker to have a big day.Â And all it takes is oneÂ or two break away runs and the Steelers have the Cardinals right where they want them.Â I also expect TE Heath Miller to have a big day.Â Though the Steelers don’t often listen to me, I think they should use Heath as a receiver more often.Â The Cardinals haven’t had a good year defending TE’s.Â I think both Parker and Miller will be making the Cardinals work for it.
What do you think?