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AP: 0cb3ee3b-e97d-4e27-9b4d-5cb4a21c0813
Arizona Cardinals' Patrick Peterson, left, intercepts a pass intended for Detroit Lions' Calvin Johnson, right, during the first half in an NFL football game on Sunday, Dec. 16, 2012, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

Arizona Cardinals' cornerback Patrick Peterson has had his share of ups and downs in his sophomore campaign this season.

But in the Cardinals' much-needed 38-10 win over the Lions on Sunday, Peterson put his exceptional talent on display and showed once again why he is one of the top young corners in the game.

Arizona head coach Ken Whisenhunt had nothing but praise for Peterson's performance, which included a tremendous effort against arguably the league's top wideout.

"There was a lot said last week about him wanting to compete against Calvin Johnson and that's putting it out there," Whisenhunt told Arizona Sports 620's Doug & Wolf Monday. "Then you gotta back it up and just seeing him respond the way he does. He's a very confident young man, which is something that you like but when you're that way you have to back it up."

Peterson let his actions on the field do the talking against Johnson and the Lions on Sunday. He picked off a Matthew Stafford pass intended for Johnson in the second quarter, which paved the way for a crucial Beanie Wells touchdown.

The 22-year-old now has seven picks on the season, which is tied for second-best in the NFL. He also had a team-high seven tackles in Arizona's win over Detroit.

Whisenhunt said Peterson's success on Sunday stemmed from the impressive work ethic and mentality his young corner abides by week after week.

"He does it not with his words but with his actions, how he studies, how he works on the field, how he reacts with his teammates -- all important qualities some of the best players in the game that I've ever seen [Peterson] has a lot of those qualities," Whisenhunt explained.

The Cardinals knew they had something special in Peterson from the start when he burst on the scene his rookie season, establishing himself as an explosive punt returner and earning a Pro Bowl selection.

Still, for Peterson to solidify his status among the game's elite cornerbacks, he'll have to continue to perform at a high level for many years to come.

"The only thing [Peterson] doesn't have is he doesn't have it over time," Whisenhunt said. "That's something that he's got to prove consistently over time. But, he's off to a great start."

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