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The Cardinals (4-5) remained one game back of division-leading Seattle, which hosts Chicago this week, after snapping a three-game losing streak with a 31-21 victory over Detroit last Sunday.
The win - Arizona’s first since beating St. Louis 34-31 on Oct. 7 - was secured by creating five turnovers, with linebacker Karlos Dansby getting both interceptions and forcing a fumble in the his first game since hurting his knee in a loss to Carolina on Oct. 14.
“Just blessed to be back and get the opportunity to come back and play the game that I love,” he said.
Dansby helped the defense hold the Lions to minus-18 yards rushing, the second-fewest allowed in team history. The unit may not come close to matching that effort this week, but it’s facing a Cincinnati team that is ranked 28th in the NFL with 86.3 rushing yards per game.
The terrific defensive effort came after Arizona created only one turnover and allowed an average of 138.7 rushing yards during its previous three games.
“Obviously he made a big difference for us today,” Cardinals coach Ken Whisenhunt said of Dansby. “His speed, his ability to make plays in the pass game. I give him a lot of credit.”
Arizona will hope to get another solid effort from Dansby this week after placing defensive end Bertrand Berry on injured reserve Tuesday with a torn left triceps suffered against the Lions. It’s the third year in a row Berry’s season has ended prematurely after leading the NFC with 14 1/2 sacks in 2004.
Kurt Warner is also having injury problems. The veteran quarterback is playing through a torn ligament in his left - non-throwing - elbow.
Despite the injury, Warner threw three touchdown passes and went 26-for-36 for 259 yards with an interception last weekend. That was an improvement after he struggled in the previous two games, throwing four picks with two scores after hurting his elbow against the Panthers.
“It comes down to each man having to be a man and be a pro and know what they’re not doing, what they’re holding back, what they’re limiting this team to by not giving everything they have each and every day,” Warner said.
The Cardinals, though, are not taking many chances with Warner’s aching elbow and Whisenhunt is using backup Tim Rattay in goal-line situations. Rattay completed his one pass against the Lions for a touchdown to tight end Leonard Pope, who caught a career-high two.
Arizona is looking for back-to-back wins for the first time since Sept. 30-Oct. 7. One of those victories was a surprising 21-14 win over Pittsburgh on Sept. 30, the Cardinals’ first over an AFC opponent in nine tries.
Arizona has only won three of eight meetings with the Bengals (3-6) and has dropped all five games at Cincinnati.
The Bengals, meanwhile, are hoping to win back-to-back games for the first time this season. They got a franchise-record seven field goals from Shayne Graham and tied their season high by forcing six turnovers in a 21-7 victory at Baltimore last weekend.
“I think it says a lot for our team. Everyone’s kind of put us in a hole right now,” Graham said. “You have to give a lot of credit to our defense that everyone seems to be bashing right now. For them to get the ball where we had it for the field position says a lot.”
Cincinnati ranks 30th in the NFL with 27.9 points allowed per game.
The offense has relied heavily on Palmer and he has thrown 10 interceptions in the absence of a strong running game, which has been hampered by a nagging hamstring injury to Rudi Johnson.
Johnson has only 242 yards and is averaging 2.6 yards per carry in six games this season after topping the 1,300-yard mark and scoring 12 touchdowns in each of the previous three years.