Uh Oh

Cardinals 24, Saints 31

This game boiled down to which team committed fewer errors.  Sacks, fumbles, interceptions amounted to 2 turnovers apiece; however, Drew Brees had the better outing, keeping the Saints’ playoff hopes alive and all but eliminating the Cardinals.

Warner’s 3 TD passes went to Troy Bienemann, Larry Fitzgerald and Ben Patrick; however it just wasn’t enough to keep pace with Brees’ 80% completion rate.

Ken Whisenhunt didn’t go down without a fight, trying some desperation trick plays, including a 4th-and-7 fake punt from their own 25, which extended the play to allow Neil Rackers a FG to move within 7 points of the Saints with just over 9 minutes left in the game.  It wasn’t enough.

The Cardinals host the hapless Falcons next week.

Troy Bienemann

Playoff Hopes are Still Alive

Should the Cardinals win out, they will finish the season 9-7, earning their first winning season since 1998. 

So, essentially, Sunday’s game in New Orleans is a playoff game.  A must win to stay alive.  Unfortunately, New Orleans has the same mentality, and the home field advantage.  But if Arizona wins, they close out the season with 2 home games.

Both teams are absent several stars:  Reggie Bush for the Saints.  Matt Leinart, Adrian Wilson and Bertrand Berry for the Cardinals, to name a few.  However, Arizona’s backups have stepped up and given Cardinals fans something to cheer about (Can anyone say Steve Breaston?  Watch out Devin Hester!)

Despite the outcome, however, 1st-year coach Ken Whisenhunt has to be excited about the future for his team.  Once everyone is healthy, next year…watch out.

Michigan rookie Steve Breaston

Rookie-extraordinaire Steve Breaston.

(Source: azcardinals.com)

Week 15 PreGame – Cardinals (6-7) @ Saints (6-7)

Coming off a short week, New Orleans hosts the struggling Cardinals this week.  Arizona suffered a disappointing loss to Seattle last week, barely keeping their postseason hopes alive.  They do remain in the wildcard chase; however, need a LOT of help.  As a matter of fact, both teams are one game out of wildcard contention behind Minnesota, so the impetus is on them both to win.

The historical matchup is pretty even, with Arizona leading 13-11.

Injuries have plagued both teams.  Reggie Bush is out for perhaps the remainder of the season with a torn PCL.  The Cardinals have lost defensive stars Bertrand Berry and Adrian Wilson; not to mention Kurt Warner, Anquan Boldin and Larry Fitzgerald have all been playing hurt.  Leonard Pope was just placed on IR this week with a season-ending dislocated right ankle.

The Cards’ keys to victory is to contain Drew Brees, who has thrown at least 2 TDs in 4 consecutive games, as well as Aaron Stecker, stepping up to replace Bush.  When New Orleans runs the ball at least 30 times, they are 11-0 under Sean Payton.

Leonard Pope

Pope’s season-ending injury in week 14 at Seattle

OUCH!! Week 14 Post-Game Report – (The BIG One That Got Away)

Cardinals 21, Seahawks 42

Some obstacles are just too difficult to overcome.  The extensive injuries with which the Cardinals had to contend just proved too much of a challenge, in a heartbreaking loss to division-leader Seattle.

A banged-up Kurt Warner (man, you gotta give the guy credit!), sustaining another injury mid-game (to his knee now) would have had a fabulous day except for the 5 INTs, a career-high for him.

Larry Fitzgerald, despite injury as well, managed 79 yds and a TD, as did Jerheme Urban and Bryant Johnson.  Surprisingly, Leonard Pope didn’t provide much of an impact (and dang it, I started him in one of my fantasy leagues!)

The Cardinals’ offense was able to accomplish an uncommon feat with regard to the Seahawks; scoring 14 points in the 2nd half.  In Seattle’s last 4 games, they only gave up a total of 13 points. 

Props to Karlos Dansby with a team-high 10 tackles this afternoon and a forced fumble.

Despite the heart, soul, and pain, the Cards just didn’t have enough for a win today.  Next up for Arizona, a trip to the Superdome to take on the equally disappointing New Orleans Saints.

Neil Rackers offered a glimmer of hope, recovering his own onsides kick in the 4th quarter, only to have the subsequent play result in one of Warner’s INTs.

The Seahawks clinched the NFC West today; however, Arizona is not statistically out of it, albeit they need a LOT of help.

Fitz - “I Hope I Catch It”

(fabulous picture by Otto Greuer, Jr./Getty Images)

Week 14 Injury Report

Both Ross Kolodziej (quadricep) and Aaron Francisco (calf) have been ruled out for Sunday.  Neither participated in practice all week.

Anquan Boldin (toe) was limited on Friday, and is currently questionable for Sunday.

Jerheme Urban (heel) fluctuated between limited and full practice all week, and is also questionable.

Larry Fitzgerald (groin), with his full Friday practice has been upgraded to probable.

Kurt Warner (elbow) is also probable, having practiced all week.

Week 14 – The BIG One!! Cardinals (6-6) @ Seahawks (8-4)

The Cardinals need to win to keep their playoff hopes alive as they travel to Seattle in a divisional clash.

In week 2, a last-second FG by Neil Rackers won the game for Arizona, 23-20.  If Seattle wins, they clinch the NFC West.  Interestingly, last year, also week 14, Arizona beat Seattle, then denying the Seahawks an early divisional title.  Currently, the Cardinals hold the #6 seed in the playoff race, but must maintain their slim lead over Detroit and Minnesota, as well as other “on the bubble” teams.

This game, to a large degree, primarily boils down to the battle of the running backs – Edgerrin James vs. Shaun Alexander (or the Alexander/Maurice Morris tag team depending on Alexander’s injuries.)  James has been healthy, and has slowly improved each week thus far (12th in the league in yds/game and tied for 11th in TDs with 6.)

Despite Kurt Warner’s several injuries, he is playing like the consummate veteran he is.  Injuries to Larry Fitzgerald and Anquan Boldin have led to Bryant Johnson (has a TD in his last 3 games), Steve Breaston, and Leonard Pope having to step up, which they have.  Similarly, with the staggering injuries on defense, backups have elevated themselves to star status (Patrick Kerney has 7 sacks and 3 FF in his last 4 games), cementing their cohesiveness and team camaraderie. 

Interestingly, Arizona is ranked 3rd on offense with 23.4 points/game, as well as averaging 31 points over the last four.

I hope it doesn’t rain in Washington Sunday.

A Real Nail-Biter…Week 13 Post Game Report

Cardinals 27  , Browns 21

Despite Larry Fitzgerald’s absence and Anquan Boldin’s aggravation of a lingering hip injury, the Cards managed to eke out a close one against Cleveland.  Going down to the wire, the last play (a fabulous catch by Kellen Winslow, Jr.) was ruled out of bounds, protecting Arizona’s 6-point lead and giving them the W.

A VERY close game, both teams were practically equal in time of possession, yardage, and (unfortunately) penalties (11-75 for AZ – hardly going to make Ken Whisenhunt happy.)

A must win game for the Cardinals, as Seattle defeated Philadelphia in the early game, they manage to stay in the hunt for a playoff berth. 

Not quite the game he had last week, Kurt Warner managed 2 TD off 169 yds, and Tim Rattay was not utilized in goal-line situations today (much to my delight as Warner is on one of my fantasy teams!)  Edgerrin James rushed for 114 yds, but no score.  Leonard Pope and Bryant Johnson each caught one of Warner’s TDs, while Roderick Hood scored off a 71-yd INT return.  Neil Rackers was perfect today with 2 FG and 3 XPs.

The defense stepped up with 4 takeaways, including a second INT by Hood and a sack, while the offensive line protected Warner (and his sore ribs) very well.

Next week the Cards travel to Seattle, hoping to pull to within a game of the division-leading Seahawks.

Cards v. Browns

Various Tidbits

The injury bug bites once again.  This time Pro Bowler Adrian Wilson is out for the season, requiring surgery to correct a lingering right  heel injury which has sidelined him since November 11th.  Wilson has recorded 44 tackles and 2 INTs this season.  Prior to his injury, Wilson had played in 79 consecutive games with 59 consecutive starts.  Along with Karlos Dansby and Calvin Pace, who have stepped up after season-ending injuries to Bertrand Berry and Eric Green, the Cards will be counting on Oliver Celestin, Antrel Rolle, Darnell Dockett, and Antonio Smith to fill some pretty big shoes.

Veteran punter and two-time Pro Bowler Mitch Berger has been signed by Arizona to replace recently-released Mike Barr.  Most recently with the New Orleans Saints, Berger did not play in 2006 due to a pelvic injury. 

Due to a banged-up secondary, former San Diego Chargers safety Bwahoh Jue is now a Card, signed November 29th.  Prior to San Diego, Jue played for Green Bay as a rookie, then for one game in St. Louis after being released by the Chargers earlier this season.

Kurt Warner is a finalist in the “Home Depot NFL Neighborhood MVP” program, designed to recognize players who have made an impact in their local communities.  Narrowed down from a list of 17 to 8, the winner will be selected through a combination of votes by fans, NFL alumni, and Home Depot executives.  The season MVP will win $25,000 for charity, a $25,000 gift card to Home Depot, and an all-expense paid trip to Super Bowl LVII (not all that far for Warner!)  Please log on to www.homedepot.com/nfl to vote.  Every finalist receives $50,000 toward refurbishing a local field in his name, $2500 for charity and a $2500 Home Depot Gift Card.  Warner’s recognition will be October 4 from 12-2pm at the City of Phoenix Dept. of Parks and Rec at 3rd and Oak Streets.

Rolle Remembers Taylor

 Sean Taylor

As 6-year old teammates on the Homestead Hurricanes in FL, Antrel Rolle and Sean Taylor were best buddies.  Both of their dads were policemen and they were also teammates at the University of Miami (follow link for another memorial story about Taylor.)  Interestingly, both were 1st round draft picks and both wore #21.  Rolle vowed to include Taylor in all of his big plays saying, “I’m going to represent my 21 as his 21.”

Rolle spoke of Taylor’s fears in Miami and about the wrong crowd he used to “hang with,” ultimately making enemies.  He believes Taylor’s attack was not the result of a burglary gone wrong.

Taylor’s past antics have been oft-cited; however, those who knew him well said he had made significant changes in his life, especially after becoming a father.

After the Cardinals/Browns game on Sunday, Rolle plans to join his family and attend Taylor’s funeral on Monday.

Antrel Rolle

(Source: nflonfox.com)

Browns (7-4) @ Cardinals (5-6) Pre-Game Report

After a really tough OT loss to San Francisco, the Cardinals look to keep their remote playoff chances alive as they host the surprising Cleveland Browns this week.  Arizona is currently 2 games behind Seattle in the NFC West standings.  The Browns lead the all-time series 33-11-3, and the last matchup saw the Cards on the losing end 44-6 in 2003; however, Arizona has a much better team this season.  Unfortunately, so does Cleveland, who looks to maintain their current edge in the wildcard berth standings going into the home stretch.

Kurt Warner passed for an amazing 484 yds last week; however, it was turnovers which cost the Cardinals the win.  Along with Derek Anderson (fantasy QB extraordinairre) this game has the potential to be a high-scoring “shootout.”  Both teams’ pass defenses are subpar (Cleveland is 30th, Arizona, 20th.)  Note to betters:  take the OVER on this one.

On the plus side, Edgerrin James has never lost to the Browns.  So, avoidace of turnovers and pressure by the defense (hey guys, watch Kellen Winslow, Jr. — currently the league’s leading TE in yardage) will, hopefully, get the Cardinals a nice fat W.