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Rapid Reaction: Arizona Cardinals

ARLINGTON, Texas -- A few thoughts on the Arizona Cardinals' 28-17 win over the Dallas Cowboys at AT&T Stadium.

What it means: How the does the saying go? It’s not about how you start, it’s how you finish. That was the case Sunday for the Cardinals. What Arizona can take away from the game is that the offense, as often as it stalled, was able to score after the defense stopped the Cowboys on fourth-and-1. Arizona showed its defense is the reason it’s atop the NFC. It was down 10-0 early, but the Cardinals’ defense didn’t panic and continued to line up four down linemen to slow DeMarco Murray. Well, it worked. Arizona held Murray to 79 yards on 19 carries -- the first time he’s been held under 100 all season.

Stock watch: Tyrann Mathieu has been talking about making a play. Last week he got his hand on an important pass on the final drive; on Sunday got his first interception of the season. He said this week that he was getting back to being the Honey Badger of old after returning from ACL and LCL injuries. That pick showed it. He has continued to get more comfortable with the knee brace to the point he’s playing without thinking about it, and it’s coincided with improved performances the last couple of weeks.

Cleaning up mistakes imperative: Arizona may have won by a convincing score, but its offense has some issues that raise concern about a deep playoff run. The interception by Carson Palmer in the first quarter that was returned for a touchdown came on a play in which he didn’t look off the defensive back. Drops by Robert Hughes, John Carlson and John Brown are still hurting the offense, while two major penalties helped curtail drives.

Game ball: Patrick Peterson didn’t stay on one side of the field, shadowing Dez Bryant for most of the game. Despite being flagged for two penalties, Peterson held Bryant without a catch until the final two minutes.

What’s next: The Cardinals host the St. Louis Rams at 4:25 p.m. ET next Sunday at University of Phoenix Stadium.