Cardinals vs. Falcons: Winners and Losers from Arizona's 23-19 Loss
The Arizona Cardinals dropped their sixth straight game as they fell to the Atlanta Falcons 23-19 Sunday in the Georgia Dome to drop to 4-6. Atlanta goes to 9-1 despite quarterback Matt Ryan's five interceptions.
Arizona held a 13-0 lead in the second quarter but couldn't stop the Falcons from chipping away and getting back into the game.
The Cardinals have dropped to 0-6 when scoring fewer than 20 points this season and have not beaten the Falcons in the Georgia Dome since 1993, when Steve Buerlein led them to a win.
The game featured the first regular-season appearance of quarterback Ryan Lindley for the Cardinals, as he replaced John Skelton in the second quarter.
Start the slideshow below to see who the individual winners and losers were from this contest.
Winner: Arizona RB LaRod Stephens-Howling
The plucky back was able to take a full workload and turn in a great performance against the Falcons' defense. He carried the ball 22 times for 127 yards and a touchdown in the losing effort. Stephens-Howling also broke off some long runs as well which took the pressure off of a weak passing game.
Stephens-Howling scored on a three-yard touchdown run in the first quarter to get the Cardinals out to a 7-0 edge. He also broke off a 52-yard run to boost his numbers.
He ran like a man trying to keep his starting running back role intact, as Beanie Wells is likely to be activated this week after spending several weeks on injured reserve.
Loser: Atlanta QB Matt Ryan
Yes, the Falcons won, but Matty Ice got melted down by the Arizona secondary to the tune of five interceptions by five different players.
It was an uncharacteristically weak performance for the former first-round pick out of Boston College. Ryan had thrown 53 career interceptions but had never thrown more than three picks in a game before Sunday.
Despite the nearly Tony Romo-esque performance, Ryan was able to complete 28 passes to his teammates and rack up 301 yards but no touchdowns.
Despite it all, Ryan and the Falcons still found a way to win, and Michael Turner's one-yard touchdown run with 3:04 left proved to be the difference.
Good teams find ways to win every week, and Atlanta is a good team.
Loser: Arizona QB John Skelton
Skelton was pulled in the second quarter for being ineffective and was replaced by rookie Ryan Lindley. Skelton went just 2-of-7 for six yards before getting the hook.
What was more surprising was that Arizona was ahead 13-0 at the time he was yanked.
Lindley didn't fare much better with a 9-of-20 effort for 64 yards. Either way, with Kevin Kolb still suffering from the effects of his injury against Buffalo in Week 4, the Cardinals will need to find answers quickly to this quarterback quagmire.
The offense managed just seven first downs. They went a brutal 2-of-16 on third-down conversions against Atlanta and finished with 178 net yards of offense. Regardless of who is under center, the Cardinals need to find more yardage in short order.
Winner: Arizona LB Daryl Washington
There's no doubt Daryl Washington is the anchor of the Arizona defense and is one of the best linebackers in the entire league.
Washington recorded nine solo tackles, assisted on two more and picked off Matt Ryan. With O'Brien Schofield out for the season, Washington will have to step up and play an even larger role in the defense.
For the season, it was his fourth game with double-digit tackles. Add to the tackles his team-leading eight sacks, and he's a defensive force to be reckoned with, whether he's defending the run or putting pressure on the quarterback.
Winner: Arizona K Jay Feely
Feely hit four field goals and a PAT in the losing effort. The reason why he's a winner is that he has struggled with getting opportunities to kick and showed he can still come through when the Cardinals get in his range.
Feely hit more than three field goals in a game for the second time this season (3-of-4 in the Week 6 matchup against Buffalo) and improved to 13-of-16 on the season.
Feely remains the biggest threat for the Cardinals' offense this season.
Loser: Arizona Wide Receivers
The Arizona Cardinals wide receivers have to be scratching their heads following this game.
Neither quarterback was able to get anything going through the air and the Cardinals were stuffed with their worst offensive showing of the season.
Normally, the rushing attack is the one that has difficulties while the passing game brings home the proverbial bacon. Against the Falcons, the roles were reversed and it led to some weak stat lines for Larry Fitzgerald and company.
Early Doucet led the Cardinals with five catches for all of 28 yards, Michael Floyd snagged two passes for 17 yards and Fitzgerald made one 11-yard reception on the day.
Arizona's passing attack will look to get back on track next week when the Cardinals host the Rams.