2011 Cardinals Week 16: Five observations

December, 29, 2011
12/29/11
2:17
PM ET
Five things I noticed about the Arizona Cardinals while watching their most recent game, a 23-16 road defeat to the Cincinnati Bengals:
  • The Adrian Wilson we know and love/hate. In putting together the recent item on the NFC West's biggest, baddest safeties, I couldn't recall as many big, violent hits from Wilson this season. He delivered one early in this game against the Bengals. Cincinnati had taken over deep in Cardinals territory following a John Skelton interception on Arizona's opening drive. Patrick Peterson had blanket coverage on A.J. Green and probably would have broken up Andy Dalton's pass, anyway. But Wilson made sure of it by blasting Green in the upper back. Wilson thrives on these hits. He got up quickly and tripped over Green while trying to stand over him. Wilson also forced a critical fourth-quarter fumble.
  • Great battle between rising young players. There was no shame in the touchdown Arizona's Daryl Washington allowed to Bengals tight end Jermaine Gresham following Skelton's first interception. Washington shadowed Gresham and contested the ball aggressively. Gresham reached out his arms and made a strong play for the ball. Washington was right there. He couldn't have covered the play any more closely without breaking up the pass. This play showed the value of an accurate pass, too.
  • Posterized. Washington couldn't get a break. After coming up short against Gresham, Washington was the Cardinals defender falling victim on the wrong end of Jerome Simpson's spectacular forward flip across the goal line. Washington stands 6-foot-2. His body was straight and leaning slightly toward the pylon when Simpson went off two feet and leaped over him. Simpson's hips appeared to be roughly seven feet off the ground at their highest point. Check out the video.
  • Tough calls against the secondary. Officials flagged Peterson for interference on the drive to the Gresham touchdown. That seemed like a tough call. They flagged Arizona's Michael Adams for interference on a throw for Ryan Whalen inside the Cardinals' 5-yard line. In watching the replay, I'm pretty sure Adams never touched Whalen before the ball arrived. The Bengals got three points out of that drive and 10 overall on drives sustained by questionable interference calls. That hurt.
  • It's a wonder Fitzgerald has held up. Skelton throws high frequently enough to put his receivers in danger. Fitzgerald has not missed a game since 2007 and that streak will continue through this season, obviously. But every time Skelton throws too high for a receiver, the Cardinals are testing the odds. It happened multiple times against the Bengals, including right after Wilson forced Cedric Benson to fumble in the fourth quarter. Arizona took over and wanted to capitalize on the momentum change. Fitzgerald was open at the Cincinnati 20, but the ball was thrown high and behind him. Fitzgerald was vulnerable when leaping to make a play on the ball. The safety ran past him, fortunately. Something to keep in mind when the Cardinals face a Seattle secondary with good size and a big hitter in Kam Chancellor.

This wound up being an exciting game at the end, but more exciting than it needed to be. The three interceptions from Skelton put the Cardinals in a tough position. Cincinnati nearly picked two additional passes in the final minutes.

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