Sunday, November 21, 2010
Wrap-up: Chiefs 31, Cardinals 13
By Mike Sando
Thoughts on the Arizona Cardinals' game at Kansas City in Week 11:
What it means: The Cardinals are a bad team. They have lost five in a row. They last won 42 days ago. They are 3-7 and last in the NFC West. Arizona still has time to right its season. The Cardinals play one of the NFL's easiest schedules. They play their next three at home against San Francisco, St. Louis and Denver, followed by a trip to struggling Carolina. The NFC West division leaders will likely remain within reach. None of that will matter if the Cardinals don't play better. Their margin for error is about gone. There's little evidence to suggest this team has the offensive firepower to get a winning streak going.
What I liked: Arizona again scored on its opening drive. The Cardinals played pretty well on both sides of the ball early in the game. Coach Ken Whisenhunt played and won the field-position game when opting to punt on fourth-and-1 while trailing 14-3 late in the first half, but the Chiefs managed to run out the clock anyway. On defense, the Cardinals seemed to do a better job putting strong safety Adrian Wilson in position to play his style of game.
What I didn't like: The Cardinals hurt themselves with penalties. They were not a very poised team. They had a legitimate beef when officials failed to call the Chiefs for grabbing linebacker Gerald Hayes by the face mask following a reception. After all, officials had flagged Arizona's Beanie Wells for a face mask penalty in Week 3. Having a legitimate beef doesn't make retaliation a smart decision, however. The penalty Hayes drew for retaliating sustained a first-half touchdown drive for Kansas City. Center Lyle Sendlein committed a personal-foul penalty. Even quarterback Derek Anderson committed one, for throwing the football in frustration. The Cardinals had to know this wasn't their day when officials flagged guard Alan Faneca for holding -- the first holding call against Faneca this season and only the seventh against him since 2001, according to ESPN Stats & Information.
Tomorrow's Talker: The quarterback situation, of course. Anderson regularly threw the ball too high, hanging out his receivers. Early Doucet and Larry Fitzgerald took unnecessary punishment as a result. Former Cardinals quarterback Matt Leinart took criticism from some, including Fitzgerald ally Cris Carter, for allegedly exposing Fitzgerald to injury with a high throw against Houston during the exhibition season. Anderson seems to make such throws more frequently. He also overthrew open receivers, including Steve Breaston on a deep ball in the third quarter. He missed Fitzgerald wide right on a short third-down pass in the second half. Anderson has generally done better in avoiding interceptions over the past few weeks, but he doesn't make enough positive plays. He isn't accurate enough.
Missing the Hyphen: The Cardinals missed injured running back LaRod Stephens-Howling when they tried to down Ben Graham's early punt at the Kansas City 1-yard line. Stephens-Howling probably would have made that play. Instead, the Chiefs took over at their own 20. The change in field position helped Kansas City pin the Cardinals at their own 8. The Chiefs got the ball back at the Arizona 38 on their next possession. They used the short field to score a touchdown and take a 7-3 lead. Trumaine McBride did down another punt at the 1 shortly before halftime. Arizona trailed 14-3 by that time, however.
What's next: The Cardinals return home to face the San Francisco 49ers on "Monday Night Football" in Week 12.