Cardinals 20 vs. Patriots 18: Final Player Grades and Analysis for Arizona

Cooper Allen@@CooperAllen47Analyst IISeptember 16, 2012

Cardinals 20 vs. Patriots 18: Final Player Grades and Analysis for Arizona

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    It is official, folks, the unthinkable has happened. The Arizona Cardinals have knocked off Tom Brady and the New England Patriots by a score of 20-18.

    Arizona now moves to 2-0, while the Patriots will drop to 1-1. With a San Francisco loss tonight, the Cardinals would have sole possession of first place in the NFC West.

    The team went through their ups and downs during the contest, but they were able to prevail. Here are your final Week 2 game grades.

Kevin Kolb

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    Final Grade: B-

    What a day and what a week for Kevin Kolb. In just eight days he has gone from super bust to leading the Arizona Cardinals to two straight victories over tough opponents.

    Kolb continued to overcome the poor offensive line play by either throwing the ball away or finding an open receiver.

    He did not have the best statistical game, but there are a couple of key numbers to look at.

    1. He did not throw an interception.

    2. He was involved in both of the Cardinals touchdowns.

    If he can continue to play like this, then Arizona should not have much of a problem returning home to face Philadelphia.   

    Q4: B+

    Kevin Kolb capped off a great drive early in the fourth quarter with a five-yard touchdown run. Both of the Cardinals touchdowns came in the second half from him.

    He was not spectacular here, but made the throws he needed to and managed the game better than most of us expected.

    Q3: B

    Whatever was said to Kolb at the half has certainly worked so far. In the third quarter he completed six passes, one of which was a touchdown to Andre Roberts.

    This is exactly what we need to see from Kolb going forward. He has done a great job of escaping pressure and finding open receivers.

    Q2: C-

    Not much has changed for Kevin Kolb in the second quarter. His offensive line has not been helping him much, but he still needs to make a few minor adjustments for the second half.

    He had two solid runs early in the quarter, but the success on those two plays may be getting in his head. The 28-year-old has scrambled a bit too much and one time it resulted in a fumble.

    Q1: C

    Kolb played quite well during the first series, putting them in field goal range. From there, however, it went downhill. On two occasions he missed a guy who was wide open in the flat and chose to throw deep. Both throws were missed.

    He finished the quarter completing five of nine passes for 35 yards and no turnovers.  

Offense

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    Final Grade: C

    Arizona just won and Kevin Kolb played well, so I am going to start with the positive here before getting into the negative. The positive is that Beanie Wells was able to carry the ball 14 times. This shows that his injuries are healing up. The fact that so many different players got involved was also great.

    The negative: the Cardinals struggles in the running game (3.2 yards per carry) is a direct result of poor offensive line play. They go hand in hand. Wells and Williams are both solid backs, however they cannot be successful when they are being hit before the line of scrimmage.

    There are certain players who played well, but there are still too many question marks for them to get an "A" or "B" grade.   

    Q4: D

    Kevin Kolb did well in the final quarter, Beanie Wells had a couple of nice runs and multiple players were involved in the passing game.

    There are two things that brought them down; the offensive line play and the Ryan Williams fumble. Arizona played a great game, but almost blew it at the end because Williams felt that he needed to make an extra move. Learn from the mistake and move forward.  

    Q3: B

    The offensive line will continue to be the death of this team. Even with Brown and Bridges in the lineup it would be much better. D'Anthony Batiste has been man handled by Chandler Jones.

    So why do they get a "B" grade? Well, anytime you can score the first touchdown of a game against the Patriots, you definitely deserve some credit.

    Q2: D+

    After scoring six points in the opening quarter, Arizona was shutout in the second. The offensive line is really missing both Levi Brown and Jeremy Bridges right about now.

    Chandler Jones is having fun against D'Anthony Batiste and the running game has not improved at all. 

    Q1: B-

    Similar to Kolb, the offense started well but faded a bit as the quarter went on. Beanie Wells had a couple of nice carries and they executed a beautiful screen pass to LaRod Stephens-Howling.

    The offensive line also played fairly well and several different receivers have been involved. They must continue to build off of their first quarter performance.

Defense

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    Final Grade: A

    It is time that people start paying attention to this Arizona Cardinals defense. Following a great performance against Seattle, they came into Foxboro with the intention of shutting down the New England offense.

    That is exactly what they ended up doing. The Patriots running game was held to 3.2 yards per carry, no receiver hit the 100 yard plateau and Tom Brady finished the contest with a passer rating under 80.

    Brady is not good when he faces pressure and the Arizona Cardinals defense certainly proved that today.

    Q4: B

    You can only contain the New England Patriots offense for so long. By the time they hit the fourth quarter you could tell that the Cardinals defense was fatigued and that Brady was just getting started.

    Brady picked apart Arizona on one drive that put them within two points of the Cardinals. Kerry Rhodes made a great play to prevent a two-point conversion and Patrick Peterson had a huge tackle for loss earlier in the quarter that forced a punt.  

    Q3: A-

    Early in the quarter this defense allowed a big play by Wes Welker. This resulted in a New England field goal. They shut them down after that, though.

    New England was driving again and they were in field goal range. That was until Darnell Dockett tackled Danny Woodhead for a nine yard loss. This would force a punt.   

    Q2: A

    For a second straight quarter, the Cardinals defense has looked like a top-10 unit. They allowed only a field goal and it is their play that has kept Arizona in the game.

    The fact that New England has the best offensive line in the league doesn't seem to bother them. Sam Acho, Quentin Groves and Calais Campbell all picked up huge sacks.  

    Q1: A+

    This defense did an incredible job of shutting down Tom Brady and the New England Patriots in the first quarter. On the first defensive play of the game, Darnell Dockett tipped a pass that wound up into the hands of Patrick Peterson.

    Arizona did allow a field goal, but it was largely due to two controversial calls made by the officials. The first one was a third down spot. The defense stopped New England on their side of the field, but they were given enough for a first down. The second call was the offside on Quentin Groves. Without the offside, it would have been a 51-yard attempt as opposed to a 46-yarder.

Special Teams

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    Final Grade: B+

    Despite no big returns from Patrick Peterson or LaRod Stephens-Howling, the special teams still receives a "B+" grade.

    Jay Feely converted on both field goal attempts and both extra point tries while Dave Zastudil averaged over 46 yards per punt on Sunday.

    In addition, the blocked punt by Quentin Groves was a game changing play and could be considered the turning point in that game.  

    Q4: B

    There really wasn't much to evaluate in the special teams department during the fourth quarter. There were multiple touchbacks and a couple of punt returns, but nothing overly special. Maybe it was their intimidation that forced the missed field goal.  

    Q3: A+

    Surprisingly, the Cardinals special teams receives an "A+" grade without the involvement of Patrick Peterson. Early Doucet had a solid kick return and Quentin Groves blocked a punt that led to a Kevin Kolb touchdown.  

    Q2: C-

    LaRod Stephens-Howling finally got a chance to return a ball in the second quarter. He had a great run, but it was called back due to a holding call on James Sanders. 

    They also allowed a couple of lengthly punt returns and we did not see much of Patrick Peterson this quarter.

    Q1: C+

    Nothing special happened in the first quarter in terms of special teams play. Stephen Gostowski would not allow a Cardinals kick return. They did, however, do a good job of shutting down the Patriots returns.

    Jay Feely converted a pair of field goals to put them 6-3. Arizona wins the first quarter special teams battle.

Coaching

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     Final Grade: B-

    Just like last week, Ray Horton and the defensive staff will walk away with an "A+" grade. The rest of the staff is not as fortunate.

    Similar to the offense, there were both positive and negatives in the coaching department.

    At times, the play calling was great. Seeing the screens to Stephens-Howling and Patrick Peterson out of the wildcat was great. This should be continued going forward.

    There were a couple of things that brought their grade down. To start, Coach Ken Whisenhunt was o-for-2 on challenges. I will give him a break on the second one because the Larry Fitzgerald catch should have been ruled a catch, however it just wasn't his day in terms of dealing with the officials.

    The second thing that brought there mark down was the fact that they ran the ball instead of taking a knee at the end of the game. After that result, I doubt we will be seeing anymore of that.

    Q4: C

    The Arizona Cardinals coaching staff was headed for another "A" grade this quarter right up until the end. They used Stephens-Howling nicely and they even snuck Rob Housler in there.

    My one disagreement was this... why, after a Ryan Williams "game clinching" first down are they not taking a knee? That was a foolish mistake that almost cost them the game.

    Q3: A

    After harping on the coaching staff earlier, they made several great play calls in the third quarter that allowed the team to control the clock and pick up a touchdown.  

    The run, fade, screen sequence after the blocked punt was great and we also saw Patrick Peterson out of the wildcat again.

    Q2: C

    In the second quarter we saw another good call by the coaching staff. After a successful run by Kevin Kolb, they went right back to it, calling a quarterback draw. After this, the play calling was just as flat as the offense.

    Ray Horton did a great job of sending pressure, but offensively they need to throw a couple more curve balls at the Patriots defense.

    Q1: B

    It was very fun to watch the offense early in the first quarter. Anytime Patrick Peterson is in the game, something is usually going to happen. Seeing him on offense is great, even if it was only for one play.

    The play calling was unorthodox and it involved two of the Cardinals most versatile players in Peterson and LaRod Stephens-Howling. The only thing that prevents the coaching from an "A" grade is the pass play calls on third and short.