Colts vs. Cardinals 2013: Growth and regression in one game

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

SB Nation's Colts and Cardinals blogs look at what made their game on Sunday tick and where they go from here.

The Arizona Cardinals are quickly becoming the NFL's giant slayers. They hold an overall record of 7-4 with impressive wins over the Lions, Panthers and now the Indianapolis Colts. This Week 12 game was supposed to cement the Colts as one of the NFL's premiere teams, but they fell flat for the second time in three games. The luster is gong from a team that once beat Denver, and both sides had strong reactions to the game.

Head coach Chuck Pagano isn't quite sure what's happening with his struggling team. Excuses have been made for the offense that the lack of Reggie Wayne has limited the team's big play potential, but Stampede Blue thinks there are far greater problems than missing a veteran receiver.

Yes, the season-ending injury to wide receiver Reggie Wayne has indeed severely affected the Colts' offense, but that injury does not explain or excuse just how terrible Indianapolis' defense has performed since the bye week. For the third time in four weeks, the defense has surrendered 14 points in the first quarter. Also for the third time in four weeks, the Colts' defense has allowed the opponent's offense to score with their opening possession.

Life is a little more rosy in Arizona, where Revenge of the Birds is compelling fans to believe in a team that so often has been a punchline. Buying in can be difficult for a fan base that has often been slighted, but perhaps 2013 is their year.

So, Cardinals fans. It is time to go all in emotionally with this team. They have shown you they can beat a sure playoff team. They need you.

In going all in with the Cards, you must know that this could end very disappointingly. But this year's team is worth it. For once, contention is not some pipe dream. It is here. The ride, regardless how it ends, will be worth it. That much I can promise you.

Arizona is a very dangerous team limited only by how well Carson Palmer can play. The Cardinals have experienced both in 2013, but in recent games Palmer has been steady under center and that's enough on a team with a dangerous defense and emerging running game.

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