Cardinals V Raiders: 10 Things We Learned
I really can't keep doing this.
I'm seriously going to have a heart attack when I'm 30.
I think the entire Cardinal fan base will have a heart attack next time this happens.
There's lucky, and then...there's really lucky.
The Cardinals were really lucky.
The last time Sebastian Janikowski missed a field goal of that length?
The Cardinals are thankful he picked 2010 to be his next occasion.
But, as I said against the Rams, a win is a win.
But there sure is a lot for the Cardinals to take from this particular win.
1. DRC Might Lead The League...in Pass Interference.
You've heard the saying about fool me once, fool me twice?
Well, somebody needs to tell DRC.
It honestly seems like years ago that he was elected to the Pro Bowl, when really it was only last season.
I'm not sure what happened between last season and this one, but it certainly affected the way Rodgers-Cromartie plays.
And of all the offseason changes on the defense, I would have thought that DRC would not have been affected.
But if it hadn't been for a couple of nice pass breakups, DRC would have had his second terrible game in a row.
Hopefully a game like this, where he nearly lost it for the Cardinals with a late pass interference call, will wake this talented corner up.
2. Derek Anderson Got The Job Done...Barely.
Anderson did just enough to win again Sunday.
Next time though, it won't be enough.
He didn't struggle as bad as in the St.Louis game in my opinion, but the interception was mainly his responsibility.
While we're at it, how do you not hit a shovel pass?
Then again, he wasn't the only one Sunday to throw an interception on a shovel pass. Eli Manning and Drew Brees also did. Funny right?
Anyway, Anderson did look a little better Sunday, but that statistics didn't show it. He continued to be harrassed, which messed with his rhythm and timing.
But he did make some throws that he needed to that were dropped.
I'm thinking mainly of the Steve Breaston drop late in the fourth quarter that would have possibly sealed the game.
And, as funny as it sounds, he was definitely not the worst quarterback in the league on Sunday.
Go back and watch Carson Palmer's first half against Carolina. Or for that matter, watch Jimmy Clausen's entire game.
Still, Anderson has much he needs to work on.
3. The Cardinals Need To Catch The Dang Ball.
Drops absolutely killed the Cardinals on Sunday.
I've already mentioned the drop by Breaston that could've decided the game in a much less dramatic fashion.
There was at least one other drop on the offensive side of the ball, but maybe more concerning was the on the defensive side of the ball.
Gradkowski had one interception, but he probably should have had four.
There were several tipped passes or balls throw into our defender's hands that were outright dropped.
Tip drills this week anyone?
4. The Defense Was Good...
The defense had some very positive signs.
When they needed to, they were able to apply pressure to Gradkowski.
They also didn't let Gradkowski to have a great day throwing the ball, as he completed just 50% of his passes.
They really didn't do badly overall, considering the offense was inept for a good part of the game, thus keeping the defense on the field more.
Both Kerry Rhodes and Paris Lenon had great individual performances, and Joey Porter finally made an impact.
They also made a key goal line stand late in the fourth quarter that allowed them to win.
That's where the good news ends though...
5....And It Was Bad.
I'm talking about the inability to stop the opposing team's rush offense (i.e. Darren McFadden).
The 70 yard catch by Louis Murphy was terrible defense.
I've already mentioned the dropped interceptions.
And the worst defensive series of the entire game was the last one, when they nearly gave the game away.
Forget the pass interference call on DRC for a minute...what was he doing on that fourth and 10?
Heyward-Bey had a ton of room along the sideline for a fourth and 10.
The Cardinals cannot get away with shoddy defense against the Chargers and Saints, their next two opponents, and hope to get away with it.
6. The Special Teams Can Be Special...
Man. What a way to start your home opener.
A 102 yard kickoff return for a touchdown.
And if anyone deserved it, it was LSH, seeing as how he returned one the previous week against Atlanta, and had it called back due to penalty.
It's great to have a weapon like that in your arsenal.
And I know it may be too early to tell, but I really think Andre Roberts will do okay on punt returns.
7...And Not So Special.
Talk about Jekyl and Hyde.
The Cardinals special teams had so many big plays on Sunday, I could've done a whole slide show dedicated to them.
Unfortunately, not all of them were good.
Now, granted, the chances of punts hitting Cardinals players on bounces twice in one game are extremely slim.
But it happened.
And unfortunately the Cardinals didn't respond.
Call it unlucky. I could call it a lack of awareness.
Let's just hope this doesn't happen again.
8. The Offense Could Change Gears Quickly.
And by that I mean it could finally be time to see more of a Pittsburgh style offense.
It will be a slower process that many people would like, but eventually, that may be the direction of the offense.
Why do I say that?
Two words: Beanie Wells.
If he was injured, it was difficult to tell.
Wells was the only consistent part of the offense, gaining 75 yards on 14 carries, and that was with a few times getting stuffed for losses or no gain.
Granted, the Raiders run defense isn't great, but Wells still looked very good considering he just had surgery, as we found out this week.
If the Cardinals could establish the run, drawing some eight man boxes, Larry Fitzgerald could benefit eventually through play action.
Speaking of play action, Anderson looked good when he did run the play action or the occasional (once?) play action boot.
Nice to think about no?
9. The Fourth Quarter Was Terrible.
The Cardinals had two penalties entering the fourth quarter.
They ended the game with seven.
Fortunately, the defense made some key stands, and Sabastian Janikowski had his worst day at the office in a long time.
Still, the fourth quarter was not very pleasant to watch on either side of the ball for Arizona.
The offense sputtered, and failed to help the defense out by sustaining any kind of drive.
It's almost as if they thought they had the game won already, and relaxed a little bit.
A big mistake that nearly cost them.
10. The Cardinals Can Still Win The NFC West.
After all that, the Cardinals are actually in a good position.
Their only competition? The Seahawks.
Now that isn't any laughing matter, as the 'Hawks just beat the Chargers at home.
Of course, they just lost to a mediocre Broncos team the week before.
Not to come off as ultra-biased, as we are certainly beatable, but so are the Seahawks.
But maybe more surprising is the start of the 49ers, hyped as the champion of the division for sure (I myself would admit that, again being unbiased).
But they are 0-3 now, and only three teams in the last two decades have made the playoffs after starting 0-3.
Not good odds for the Niners.
So take heart Cards fans, even if we go to 2-3 after playing the Saints and Chargers, the Seahawks may be as well, with trips to St. Louis and Chicago.
Then the two play in week seven.
Can I set my DVR already?