Wrap-up: Steelers 32, Cardinals 20
October, 23, 2011
By Mike Sando | ESPN.com
Thoughts on the Arizona Cardinals' 32-20 home defeat to the Pittsburgh Steelers in Week 7:
What it means: The Cardinals have lost five games in a row and 14 of their last 17 dating to last season, removing any lingering questions about whether Kevin Kolb's acquisition would produce desired results quickly. Kolb is not the first quarterback to struggle against the Steelers' defense, but his performance closely resembled others from him against lesser opponents. The signature play was the safety Kolb took when incurring his league-leading third penalty for intentional grounding this season. At 1-5, the Cardinals trail the NFC West-leading San Francisco 49ers by four games, a gap that figures to grow before it shrinks.
What I liked: LaRod Stephens-Howling's 73-yard catch-and-run for a touchdown showed he was ready to make big plays again after suffering from a hand injury early in the season. Young pass-rushers Sam Acho and O'Brien Schofield got pressure a couple times. The team needs both to emerge. This seemed like a start. Strong safety Adrian Wilson appeared more aggressive in this game, delivering more big hits than I can recall him delivering recently. The Cardinals' run defense was relatively strong, holding Rashard Mendenhall to 32 yards and a 2.5-yard average.
What I didn't like: A sprained knee knocked running back Beanie Wells from the game in the first half. He did not return, dramatically affecting the Cardinals' offense by putting more pressure on Kolb, who isn't ready to carry the offense. Kolb completed 18 of 34 passes for 272 yards with two touchdowns and one interception, good for an NFL passer rating that appeared better on paper (86.9) than it looked in reality. The Cardinals controlled the ball for only 24 minutes. They were too often helpless against Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, who tossed three scoring passes, including a 95-yarder to Mike Wallace to set a franchise record for longest reception. The Cardinals have given up too many big plays through the air this season, and that trend continued, sometimes through coverage lapses but often because Roethlisberger had plenty of time or bought additional time with his legs.
What's next: The Cardinals visit Baltimore in Week 8.