2012 Arizona Cardinals Winners and Losers from the Hall of Fame Game
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Despite the loss on the scoreboard, there were some Cardinals who were winners in an individual sense. There were also some pretty obvious losers as well.
Loser: Kevin Kolb, Quarterback
Kevin Kolb had the kind of night that will make head coach Ken Whisenhunt's stomach turn. Kolb's first pass attempt was intercepted by Saints cornerback Malcolm Jenkins. Kolb didn't appear to see Jenkins cutting under the route until after the ball was thrown.
His second series had a couple more incompletions as the Cardinals went three-and-out. It was the third series that really hurt him.
With 6:12 left in the opening quarter, Kolb got slammed into the turf by Saints defensive lineman Sedrick Ellis. He left the game with a rib contusion and it was later diagnosed as a bruised rib muscle and diaphragm.
His status is up in the air for Friday's preseason game at Kansas City. On the play, he completed his only pass of the night by hitting fullback Anthony Sherman before hitting the turf.
Kolb finished 1-of-4 for four yards. The reason why he got drilled to the turf leads to the next loser of the night.
Loser: Cardinals Offensive Line
The offensive line looked weak against New Orleans. On the play that Kolb got crushed, two linemen made poor plays.
Adam Snyder was overwhelmed and failed to hold his block against Ellis on the play.
On the other side of the line, left tackle Levi Brown was double-teamed and went after the outside rusher. The inside rusher, Will Smith, had a free path to Kolb. Halfback LaRod Stephens-Howling tried in vain to stop the oncoming Smith.
With those two failures on that play, Kolb wound up scrambling to his right and got drilled in the end zone.
Brown was also overwhelmed by Smith on the previous play and could have easily been called for holding in the end zone. In retrospect, that call would have prevented Kolb's injury had the replacement officials thrown the flag.
Regardless of who was on the line or which quarterback was back there, the Cardinals offensive line didn't show any improvement over the line that allowed 54 sacks last season.
Loser: Cardinals Defense
The Saints had an easier-than-expected time against the Cardinals defense. The Cardinals played quite a bit of zone, and New Orleans found holes underneath it.
The defense, as a whole, had plenty of missed tackles. On the return following the Cardinals' lone touchdown, the special teams unit missed five tackles in that one play.
The other problem that was evident was the inability to cover the dump-off passes to the running backs. New Orleans was able to get short passes away and turn them into 10- to 15-yard gains with the weaknesses in the coverage.
Chase Daniel finished 15-of-20 for 203 yards with one touchdown and one interception for the Saints.
The Cardinals also saw inside linebacker Paris Lenon limp off the field in the first quarter. His status is unknown.
Winner: Alphonso Smith, Running Back
Alphonso Smith took advantage of the absences of Beanie Wells and Ryan Williams, finishing with 45 yards on six carries and Arizona's lone touchdown.
He was able to find the holes and did a good job of following his blockers. Smith didn't overwhelm with anything flashy, but he gave Arizona simple, solid running.
Winner: Blake Gideon, Defensive Back
Blake Gideon picked off Saints quarterback Chase Daniel in the end zone and killed a scoring drive. Rookies like Gideon need to make plays like that to increase their chances of making the roster.
Winners: Justin Bethel and Eddie Elder, Defensive Backs
Justin Bethel and Eddie Elder both put huge hits on the Saints during the game. Bethel ran over a punt returner in the second half. Elder put a solid thumping on a New Orleans wide receiver to force a fumble.
Winner: Dave Zastudil, Punter
Dave Zastudil's first two punts went for 63 and 79 yards, respectively. He has the job locked up, but he posted impressive numbers aided by misplays from the Saints special teams.
The Cardinals will stay out on the road and head to Missouri to scrimmage with the Kansas City Chiefs this week. Arizona and Kansas City go head-to-head Friday night in the Cardinals' second preseason game.
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