Around the NFC West: Cards' late play-calls

October, 31, 2011
10/31/11
9:36
AM ET
Seattle's Pete Carroll wasn't the only NFC West coach facing questions following a tough defeat in Week 8.

The Arizona Cardinals' Ken Whisenhunt, now a loser in 15 of his past 18 regular-season games, made or approved some questionable play calls during a 30-27 defeat at Baltimore.

Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic has generally downplayed play-calling criticisms as 20-20 hindsight, but he thought the Cardinals' approach in the late going seemed curious. Somers: "I'm not one to often criticize play calling, but I have to question what the Cardinals did in the third quarter. The Ravens closed to with 11 with 12:13 remaining. The Cardinals ran the first four plays after that, gaining a first down. The drive didn't go anywhere, but it appeared the Cardinals were regrouping, especially after the defense stopped Baltimore. After a punt, the Cardinals took over at the Baltimore 49. So, the Cardinals decided to throw on first down. Quarterback Kevin Kolb is sacked for a 10-yard loss. They punted after two more downs. A case can be made for throwing there, I guess. Maybe something was open, I haven't looked at video yet. The Ravens then pulled within 24-20, and on first down from their 21, the Cardinals tried another pass. Terrell Suggs hit Kolb, causing the ball to flutter away. The Ravens intercept. A strong case could be made for running the ball there. The previous possession had been ruined by a sack. Kolb had been pressured all day. No sense taking a risk in your own territory." Noted: It's possible the decision to throw reflected a desire to project an aggressive mentality. Teams sometimes get into their four-minute offense too early, as if playing not to lose. For as much as the Cardinals have invested in Kolb and receiver Larry Fitzgerald, the team should expect them to produce with games on the line. However, the consistency hasn't been there during critical situations, not just Sunday but all season.

Also from Somers: Beanie Wells impressed Whisenhunt by playing hurt.

More from Somers: The Cardinals have now lost four games this season after leading in the second half.

More yet from Somers: a slide show featuring commentary on various aspects of the Cardinals' performance.

Dan Bickley of the Arizona Republic says the Cardinals have come full circle since their earliest days under Whisenhunt. Bickley: "Look deep enough, and the Cardinals can claim some minor victories. Sam Acho and O'Brien Schofield brought some youthful energy to the field. Beanie Wells showed toughness in playing with a bad knee. Though the Ravens danced and pranced about the field, it was the Cardinals' defense that made the big plays in the first half. But the ending once again was typical of a team that can't win. With the score tied at 27, the Cardinals' last possession featured little urgency, zero conviction and a half-hearted attempt to move the ball downfield for a victory. They seemed soaked with resignation for a loss that seemed destined to arrive, and that's just what happened."

Darren Urban of azcardinals.com offers postgame notes, including one featuring cornerback A.J. Jefferson suggesting scheme played a role in his rough performance.

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