Monday, September 24, 2012

Arizona Lit Philly Up

I mentioned last week that Arizona hadn't won a game by more than a touchdown in over a year. Scratch that, because they kicked the Eagles' butts 27-6. The offense didn't do a lot in the second half, besides getting some good running out of Ryan Williams, but it didn't matter. The defense beat the hell out of Vick, sacking him 5 times, hitting him about 8 more times, forcing two fumbles, both of which the Cardinals recovered. The Cards' special teams also recovered a fumble, and Arizona avoided any giveaways of their own. I would also like to thank Andy Reid for once again not using Lesean McCoy more. He had 70 yards on just 13 carries. I know it isn't surprising for Andy Reid to do that, and the Cardinals were up by quite a bit, but still. McCoy was getting plenty of yards, as usually, and Reid simply refuses to give him the ball more.

Thank goodness Andy Reid's a moron, or the rest of the NFL might be in trouble.

Kolb had a solid game. It's nothing spectacular, but 17 of 27 for 222 yards and 2 TDs is his best game so far this season. The running game averaged less than 3 yards per carry, but they did run the ball 34 times, which is that solid commitment to the run I keep hoping to see. Larry Fitzgerald got involved this week, catching all 9 of the passes directed towards him for over 100 yards.

The defense, though, was the big story again. Kerry Rhodes made a big hit on Vick right before the end of the first half, knocking the ball loose, which James Sanders scooped up and returned 93 yards for a touchdown. That was key, since Philly was about to score at least a field goal, if not a touchdown of their own. 24-0 is a much safer halftime lead than 17-7 or 17-3.

Now Arizona is in sole possession of first in the NFC West, which is unexpected to say the least. Downside, 6 of their next 9 games are on the road, but they at least get to start with Miami, which shouldn't be the toughest challenge. Which makes me all the more nervous.


Monday, September 17, 2012

Arizona Did WHAT?!

Beat the New England Patriots 20-18, that's what. I know, I was surprised too. Especially after Ryan Williams fumbled the ball on the Arizona 30 with a minute to go. Fortunately a TD run got called back for holding, then the Pats' kicker missed a 42 yard field goal, and there ya go. Arizona victory.

I feel bad for Gostkowski, the Pats' kicker. Part of that is selfishness, because people are using his missed kick as a way to say new England lost the game, rather than Arizona winning it. I'm sure I shouldn't care about such things, it counts as a win no matter what people say, but it does irritate me.. Even in the good Kurt Warner years, Arizona was prone to going on the road and getting their asses beat. Especially on the East Coast. The Super Bowl year of 2008, that was an running theme. Arizona travels to East Coast, gets annihilated. Didn't matter if it was the Jets, the Redskins, the Pats, the Panthers, whoever, the Cards wouldn't even be competitive. So for this group, admittedly a much different roster, to go east and beat the Patriots, that's something good.

Back to Gostkowski. The other reason I feel bad for him is people are tagging him with the "goat" label when he's the only reason New England was in that game. Of the Pats 18 points, he accounts for 12 of them, and three of those field goals were from 46, 51, and 53. Not exactly chip shots. Which says his offense wasn't doing its part, and that's why he had to keep booming it. So maybe Brady should be the "goat". Or the Pats special teams, since they let a punt get blocked and Arizona recovered at the 2.

Or maybe there is no goat, and Arizona's defense and special teams outplayed New England's offense. Yeah, Hernandez was injured, but it's not as though New England lacked for playmakers. They still had Gronk, Welker (though probably not if they keep dicking him around over his contract), Edelman, Brandon Lloyd. But Arizona mostly shut those guys down, or limited the damage. And the offense, once again, did just enough to get by.

I don't know if Arizona can keep winning like this. They haven't won a game by more than a touchdown since they pummeled the Broncos in December of 2010. I don't really care. They are winning, and if nothing else, it's an unusual experience to see them win with defense. 1994 is the closest they've ever come to pulling that off, and that team only managed 8-8. Their bottom 5 offense had a lot to do with canceling out the work of the Top 5 defense. This year's offense actually ranks even worse, which is certainly concerning, but something to worry about when they actually start losing games. Which hopefully won't be for awhile. The Eagles are coming to Arizona this weekend, so hopefully Andy Reid will forget to use Lesean McCoy again.

Actually, that's a certainty.


Monday, September 10, 2012

A New Season, But Nothing's Changed In Arizona

Arizona managed to win their season opener, 20-16 over the Seahawks. The defense carried most of the load -just like the latter half of last season - and the offense did just enough, with a largely anemic running game and inconsistent QB play.

I appreciate that the Cardinals stuck with the run (well, more than usual, 22 carries), but getting less than 50 yards out of it is disappointing to say the least. In a reverse of last season, Skelton started the game well, then played poorly in the second half before leaving with an ankle injury. Kevin Kolb came in and played fairly well. It's good to see he wasn't too miffed about being benched, especially since Skelton might miss a game or two.

The Cards' defense had some trouble slowing down Seattle's running game, but on the whole made Russell Wilson look like the rookie he is, sacking him three times and intercepting him once. The defense did continue to have strong showings in the red zone, hold Seattle to one score in 4 trips. That's always a plus, especially if the offense can't get its act together to keep them off the field a little more. Consider that the teams were even in turnovers, that Seattle had a grand total of 1 more yard of offense, but won time of possession by over six minutes. And that's with special teams allowing an 83 yard kickoff return and a 52 yard punt return.

Lots of penalties, 23 overall, and I don't know whether to pin that on the teams or on the crappy refs. I'm allowed to call them crappy. Anytime you can't keep track of something as simple as how many timeouts one team has left (a number that can't be higher than THREE), you are crappy. Cripes, get a little notebook and jot it down or something. Fortunately, Seattle couldn't capitalize, though I wouldn't have been the least bit surprised if Arizona was the first team to get screwed in a game that counts by lousy refs. Would have been par for the course, really.

But it didn't happen (this week), and Arizona is 1-0. Course, they started that way last year and lost their next 6 games. And they started that way in 2010 and ended up 5-11, so getting off to a good start is easy. Keeping it going will be the hard part.