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Sunday, October 2, 2011
Rapid Reaction: Giants 31, Cardinals 27

By Mike Sando

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Thoughts on the Arizona Cardinals' 31-27 home defeat against the New York Giants in Week 4:

What it means: The Cardinals blew a chance at claiming a key home victory outside the division, dropping them to 1-3 heading into a road game against the Minnesota Vikings. Arizona needed to win this game after NFC West rival San Francisco upped its record to 3-1 with an upset road victory against the Philadelphia Eagles. Had the Cardinals won, a breakout performance from running back Beanie Wells and timely turnover production by the Arizona defense would have removed the focus from another mostly shaky showing by Cardinals quarterback Kevin Kolb.

What I liked: Larry Fitzgerald made another spectacular leaping grab for a spot in the Cardinals' record book. This time, his 47-yard grab deep in Giants territory moved Fitzgerald past Roy Green for the top spot on the franchise list for receiving yardage. Last week, his touchdown grab at Seattle moved him past Green for most scoring receptions. Wells provided the physical running presence Arizona missed against Seattle, topping 100 yards on the ground. This was his second career game with more than one rushing touchdown in a game. On defense, Calais Campbell and David Carter forced fumbles leading to 10 points for Arizona. Darnell Dockett was a force, disrupting plays.

What I didn't like: Kolb continued to struggle, losing a fumble and tossing an interception. He took too many sacks, seemed affected by pressure and lacked awareness when taking a grounding penalty. The Cardinals mismanaged a sequence right before halftime, setting up the Giants for one last drive in the quarter. Wells fumbled on the Cardinals' first possession of the second half. Penalties hurt Arizona on both sides of the ball; the Cardinals had 10 of them before reaching the fourth quarter. Strong safety Adrian Wilson let a potential interception slip through his grasp for the second week in a row. He is consistently getting chances for interceptions and should have more than the one he collected at Washington. Cornerback A.J. Jefferson had trouble finishing tackles.

Injuries of note: The Cardinals lost right tackle Brandon Keith to an apparent knee injury. Jeremy Bridges replaced him. Fitzgerald briefly left the game with what appeared to be a calf injury. Wells rode a stationary bike on the sideline to keep his injured hamstring loose. Arizona benefited when the Giants lost center David Baas to injury. Carter beat Baas' replacement for the fumble-forcing play on Manning. The Cardinals lost cornerback Richard Marshall to a quadriceps injury in the fourth quarter. Jefferson was shaken up late in the game, leaving Michael Adams as the primary corner opposite Patrick Peterson.

Upon further review: Referee Jerome Boger overturned on replay Manning's scoring pass to tight end Jake Ballard. Brandon Jacobs scored from the 1 on the next play, pulling the Giants within 20-17 early in the fourth quarter. Before Sunday, referees had overturned 13 of 20 touchdowns when reviewing whether a runner had broken the plane of the goal line.

Controversial call: The Cardinals, leading 27-24 late in the game, thought they had produced a turnover when the Giants' Victor Cruz set down the ball before a defender touched him during the Giants' go-ahead scoring drive. I thought Boger was correct in ruling that Cruz had given himself up on the play and was therefore down. However, former NFL officiating director Mike Pereira said he thought Cruz stumbled on the play, and that this should have been ruled a fumble. Should be some good debate on this one.

What's next: The Cardinals visit Minnesota in Week 5.