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Monday, September 14, 2009
Around the NFC West: Cardinals falter

By Mike Sando
ESPN.com


Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando


Dan Bickley of the Arizona Republic sifts through the rubble of the Cardinals' Week 1 defeat for clues as to what went wrong. Bickley: "Let's start with the change in leadership. The defense doesn't seem to miss former coordinator Clancy Pendergast one bit. The 2009 unit looks dangerous and dominant, and new captain Darnell Dockett appears primed for a monstrous season. Except this defense did just what it always did under Pendergast, allowing a late touchdown instead of clamping down for a victory. The offense is another matter. Coach Ken Whisenhunt is back to calling plays, and personally, the impotent performance was his worst nightmare. The Cardinals waited too long to go to a no-huddle attack. The passing game seemed resigned to tailback Tim Hightower, who caught 12 passes out of the backfield."

Also from Bickley: Frank Gore's touchdown reception was the play of the game.

Bob McManaman of the Arizona Republic says the Cardinals had the second-best quarterback in their opening-game defeat to Shaun Hill and the 49ers.

McManaman and Kent Somers check in with Cardinals safety Adrian Wilson, who takes the blame for a busted coverage on Gore's touchdown reception.

Also from Somers: postgame thoughts, including notes on Levi Brown's rough performance at right tackle. Also: "Given the way the 49ers played Sunday, they will be a quick study on offense. They run Frank Gore up the middle behind a pulling guard, throw short to Gore and tight end Vernon Davis, and take the occasional shot downfield. Not much else."

More from Somers: what we learned about the Cardinals on offense, defense and special teams.

More still from Somers: The Cardinals' defensive effort should have been good enough to win.

Scott Bordow of the East Valley Tribune says the Cardinals' defeat proved this is a new season. Bordow: "Talk about a buzz kill. The Cardinals looked nothing like the team that nearly won a championship last February. Instead, their 20-16 loss to the San Francisco 49ers was a hard slap in the face."

Also from Bordow: The 49ers' defensive strategy set up Tim Hightower for a big game as a receiver out of the backfield.

Darren Urban of azcardinals.com says the Arizona offense found its rhythm in Week 2 last season. Will there be a repeat?

Also from Urban: The Cardinals' defense "rose to the challenge" in Whisenhunt's words.