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Silver linings: Cardinals at Titans

Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando

The facts: The Cardinals fell to 7-4 after a 20-17 road loss to the Titans in Week 12.

The upside: Even the worst defeats tend to feature a bright spot or two.

  • Starting quarterback Kurt Warner smartly decided against playing after experiencing sensitivity to light following the concussion he suffered a week earlier.

  • Backup quarterback Matt Leinart improved as the game progressed, helping the Cardinals take the lead in the fourth quarter. Leinart reestablished himself as a more legitimate candidate to replace Warner in the long term.

  • Darnell Dockett played at a Pro Bowl level, collecting three sacks. Dockett played smartly, sometimes letting Vince Young come to him instead of overpursuing.

  • Tim Hightower ran hard and ran effectively despite limited attempts.

  • Role players Early Doucet, Ben Patrick and Beanie Wells made receptions covering at least 21 yards to keep the offense moving.

  • The Cardinals downed five of Ben Graham's six punts inside the Tennessee 20, helping Graham finish with a 48-yard net average.

  • LaRod Stephens-Howling downed one of those punts at the 5, one at the 2 and another at the 1. His 99-yard kickoff return for a touchdown kept the Cardinals close in the second half.

  • Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie made a few big plays, including when he forced a fumble after a 51-yard reception by the Titans.

  • The Cardinals allowed only one sack.

Looking ahead: The Cardinals face the Vikings at home in Week 13.