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Monday, December 20, 2010
Around the NFC West: Cards drop ball

By Mike Sando
ESPN.com

Darren Urban of azcardinals.com says Arizona will not secure the No. 1 overall choice in the 2011 NFL draft despite losing to Carolina. Urban: "The Cardinals are not going to be in the 'race' for the No. 1 overall draft pick and a chance to pick up quarterback Andrew Luck. After their visit to Carolina Sunday, it’s possible they could cost the Panthers a Lucky opportunity as well." I believe it is unlikely, but possible, for Arizona to land the No. 1 overall choice. Carolina would have to beat Atlanta and Pittsburgh over the final two weeks. The Cardinals would have to lose their final two games. Several other outcomes would also have to fall into place. It's not worth running through all the possibilities at this point. According to Alok Pattani of ESPN Stats & Information, the top six picks at this point would belong to Carolina, Denver, Cincinnati, Arizona, Detroit and Buffalo, respectively.

Also from Urban: Larry Fitzgerald is on pace for 89 receptions and 1,127 yards this season. Also: "The Cardinals’ extended their own franchise record Sunday with a 10th return for a touchdown. Amazingly, three have been 'returns' of their own fumbles – such a play does count as a return -- including Sunday, when Tim Hightower caught a screen but fumbled inside the 10-yard line, only to see wide receiver Steve Breaston jump on it for six points. That’s two weeks in a row, after defensive tackle Darnell Dockett grabbed linebacker Daryl Washington’s goal line fumble against Denver last week. Tackle Levi Brown pulled it off earlier this season when he grabbed quarterback Max Hall’s fumble and fell into the end zone."

More from Urban: postgame notes, including one about Calais Campbell playing what appeared to be his best game of the season for Arizona. Urban: "He was credited with 11 tackles, a sack and four tackles for loss."

Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic says the Cardinals self-destructed again. Somers: "Rookie quarterback John Skelton struggled throughout the afternoon, completing 17 of 33 for 196 yards. He was the victim of three dropped passes and occasional poor protection, but like his team, Skelton was usually his worst enemy. His lone interception was a result of a horrible decision, and he missed a handful of open receivers, including Early Doucet for a potential touchdown."

Paola Boivin of the Arizona Republic says the Cardinals hit a new low this season when Panthers quarterback Jimmy Clausen offered postgame advice to Arizona's quarterback. Clausen: "I told him after the game, 'Everything will start slowing down for you. Keep watching film. Keep working.' "

Also from Boivin and Somers: postgame notes, including an item about Arizona's efforts to stop the run.

More from Boivin: Skelton's interception was the pivotal play for Arizona.