10 Things We Learned from Arizona's 20-16 Win over Seattle
The Arizona Cardinals' 2012 campaign looks to be another grab-the-Pepto, roller-coaster, don't-leave-the-stadium-early season.
The Cardinals' season-opening 20-16 win at home over the Seattle Seahawks had all of that and then some.
Starting quarterback John Skelton left the game with a lower-right leg injury and had to be carted off. Kevin Kolb came in and drove the Cardinals down the field to the winning score.
John Skelton Suffered a Severe Injury
Arizona quarterback John Skelton was carted off the field with 8:33 left in the fourth quarter with what appeared to be a severe right ankle injury.
Skelton took a crushing hit from Seattle defensive lineman Brandon Mebane after completing a 17-yard pass to Andre Roberts.
Skelton was down on the turf for several minutes and was surrounded by his teammates while the trainers looked at him. They were able to get a brace on his ankle before taking him off the field.
It's safe to say Skelton is likely to miss some playing time starting with next week's game at New England. We don't know yet how long he will be out for, but this is now Kevin Kolb's team.
Kevin Kolb Took the Reins
Kevin Kolb came in the game in the middle of the fourth quarter with the Cardinals trailing 16-13. Kolb went 6-of-8 for 66 yards on the final drive. He hit Andre Roberts on a six-yard touchdown pass with 4:59 left for the winning score.
The Cardinals could have mentally folded when Skelton was carted off. Instead they came together and went right back to work, knowing they had a game to win. Kolb came in and got the job done. He looked like the quarterback Arizona traded for.
While the extent of Skelton's injury is still unknown, Kolb will have to get ready for New England next Sunday, and they will pose a tougher test than Seattle.
The Replacement Officials Blew It on the Timeouts
This should have been a simple situation but the replacement officials made this into a debacle. Seattle used two timeouts and had one remaining as they attacked the Cardinals on their final drive of the game in the last two minutes.
Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson threw a pass for Doug Baldwin in the end zone. Baldwin laid out for it and just missed catching it. In the process, Baldwin landed on the ball and knocked the wind out of himself.
Baldwin laid down in the end zone gasping for air and the trainers came out to check on him. Under the NFL rules, an injury in the final two minutes will cost a team a timeout if they still have one. Seattle did and the proper call would have been to charge the Seahawks their third and final timeout.
Instead, what ensued was a delay of several minutes while the officials conferred to try and figure out if the timeout counted against the Seahawks. The delay itself was the length of a couple timeouts.
The referee came back and said since the clock had stopped on the incompletion, the timeout was not charged to Seattle.
Without this incident, this was a quiet weekend for the replacement referees. Unfortunately, they put themselves under additional scrutiny by making this simple mistake.
The Cardinals' Running Game Is Non-Existent
Arizona ran the ball 20 times against Seattle for a paltry 43 yards. When a team averages 2.2 yards per carry, it doesn't bode well for their success, yet it was just good enough to win.
LaRod Stephens-Howling was able to get in the end zone from a yard out, but no other Cardinal did much on the ground.
Andre Roberts led the team with 15 yards on one carry. Roberts, the wide receiver, bettered Beanie Wells' effort (14 yards on seven carries) and Ryan Williams' stats (nine yards on eight carries).
Everywhere the Cardinals ran, they found white Seattle uniforms waiting for them. Arizona needs to get its running game in gear or they will put extra pressure on their quarterback to be successful.
The Offensive Line Was Solid
Arizona's offensive line was much maligned in the preseason. They didn't give any of the Cardinals' quarterbacks time to throw, and each of them wound up face-down in the turf during the preseason.
That was then and this is now.
The Cardinals' offensive line gave Skelton and Kolb enough time to throw and allowed just one sack for five yards. That sack didn't come until the fourth quarter and was the play before Skelton was injured.
Arizona's run game didn't take off today, so some extra run blocking might be in order this week.
Overall, this is the kind of effort the line needed to get some confidence before next week's tilt with New England.
The Cardinals Were Penalized...a Lot
The Arizona Cardinals were flagged for 102 yards on 10 penalties. Seattle wasn't much better, getting nailed 13 times for 90 yards.
Of the penalties, Arizona was whistled for a couple of pass interference penalties that extended the Seahawks' final drive. Those penalties helped Seattle get down to the Cardinals's 4-yard line before Wilson threw three consecutive incompletions.
The Cardinals were able to get away with it this week but must tighten up, as the competition will get harder. Arizona can't afford to give opponents second and third chances, otherwise they will get burned.
Darryl Washington Showed Why He Got His Contract
The Cardinals Need to Work on Kick Coverage
Seattle running back Leon Washington was a real catalyst for the Seahawks' offense. He returned a kickoff 83 yards that set up Seattle's only touchdown of the game in the second quarter.
His 53-yard punt return in the fourth quarter also gave Seattle excellent field position that they cashed in for a field goal and a 16-13 lead with 9:20 to go.
With Arizona being a team that has nearly every game come down to the very end, field position is absolutely critical. They have to find a way to bottle up kick returners so they can make it tougher for other teams to get down the field.
Arizona Has to Learn How to Play with the Lead
The Cardinals led 13-3 after Jay Feely's 31-yard field goal split the uprights with 10 minutes left in the third quarter.
The better teams in the NFL will take the lead and put a stranglehold on it. Arizona isn't quite there yet. They allowed Seattle to score 13 straight points to surrender the lead and make the fourth quarter tense.
In the second half their offense sputtered. Before Kolb's touchdown pass, their second half offensive series were as follows: punt, field goal, interception, punt, punt and punt.
The Cardinals have to be able to hold leads and build on them. It could be the difference between being a .500 team and contending for a playoff berth.
The Cardinals Will Play a Measuring-Stick Game Next Week
Arizona will head to the road for an early start in Foxboro, Mass., as they battle the New England Patriots, who knocked off the Titans 34-13 in Nashville in Week 1.
New England has a great passing attack that will keep the Cardinals' defense on its toes. They also have a running back in Stevan Ridley who ran for 120 yards and a touchdown against Tennessee in Week 1, so Arizona will be facing challenges.
The Patriots' defense hounded Titans quarterback Jake Locker and scored a touchdown on a sack and fumble recovery.
Arizona will know for sure where they stand when they run up against last seasons AFC Champions.
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