The Cardinals' defense is a bit small by NFL standards, but fast. At its worst, it's plagued by missed tackles and missed assignments.
"They played their gaps, they played with good technique, they used their hands, they got off blocks and they talked very well," Whisenhunt said Monday. "That was very important, and it goes to every position on the team."
Ryan was intercepted twice, once by veteran Rod Hood and later by rising star Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, the NFL's defensive rookie of the month for December.
"Instead of having guys trying to individually make plays, we had a bunch of guys that were focused on playing team defense," Whisenhunt said. "That's what we've talked about."
"The focus and the discipline definitely was missing in the games that we struggled," linebacker Karlos Dansby said. "Now it's do or die, it's win or go home and right now we're up to the challenge."
But Dockett, Smith and Bryan Robinson dominated the line of scrimmage, and the front three benefited from strong play by backups Kenny Iwebema, Gabe Watson and Calais Campbell.
"It was great to have that depth and be able to put those guys in there. That's what saved us in the second half," Whisenhunt said. "Coming out with their guys getting the ball, our guys weren't as tired as maybe they would have been last year because we had more depth."
Rodgers-Cromartie had a team-high nine tackles and three pass deflections to go with his interception. Linebacker Karlos Dansby had six tackles, three for losses.
"I thought we played strong, but I don't think that was the best we've played," Hood said. "I think we can play a lot better. There's a lot of room for improvement."
Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press