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Sunday, September 18, 2011
Rapid Reaction: Redskins 22, Cardinals 21

By Mike Sando

LANDOVER, Md. -- Thoughts on the Arizona Cardinals' defeat against the Washington Redskins at FedEx Field in Week 2:

What it means: Arizona fell to 1-1 after squandering a prime opportunity to collect a road victory on the East Coast. The defensive problems that hurt Arizona in Week 1 become harder to overlook following a defeat. Every victory is precious for NFC West teams after Seattle needed only seven victories to claim the division title last season. Losing this one hurts.

What I liked: The Cardinals again showed big-play ability in the passing game, this time with a strong second-half running game. Their defense, though pliable, made stops at critical times to help limit the damage, including when Arizona foiled a potential tying two-point conversion attempt with 5:17 remaining. Adrian Wilson's first-quarter interception stopped the Redskins after a disputed penalty had sustained Washington's drive deep in Arizona territory. The Cardinals made an obvious effort to get their ground game going in the second half, critical after the team's defense spent too much time on the field in the first half. Even when the Redskins lost cornerback Josh Wilson to injury, the Cardinals stayed with two-receiver personnel for a time, giving the ball to Beanie Wells. Later, the Cardinals went with four-receiver groupings, taking advantage of the personnel situation. Once the ground game was established, Kolb found Larry Fitzgerald for a 73-yard touchdown that gave Arizona a 21-13 lead in the fourth quarter. Wells ran hard and seemed eager to ward off defenders with a stiff-arm Arizona hasn't seen nearly enough over the past couple seasons.

What I didn't like: The Cardinals' defense was on the field for all but 8:29 of the first half despite collecting those early interceptions off Grossman. That was far too long. Arizona's offense needed only two plays to score following the second interception. The Cardinals never really tried to get their running game going early, carrying only three times in the first half. And their defense, though stout in the red zone, could not stop Tim Hightower from carrying 15 times for 83 yards in the first half alone. Kolb took two sacks when held the ball too long. Left tackle Levi Brown put the offense in a tough spot with a false-start penalty. Playing on the road is tough enough without inviting trouble. The blind-side hit Kolb took after throwing his long touchdown to Fitzgerald was the type of play that can knock out a quarterback. Receiver Chansi Stuckey lost a fumble when Arizona was trying to mount a comeback in the final 1:23.

Commissioner on Line One: King will be hearing from the league office this week after committing one of the more flagrant facemask penalties I can recall seeing. The Redskins' Brandon Banks was 35 yards into his punt return and threatening to score when King cut him off near the Redskins' sideline. King pulled down Banks violently by the facemask, possibly saving a touchdown. Later, when King was participating on the Cardinals' punt coverage team, Redskins fullback Darrel Young drove King to the ground and roughed him up.

Fitzgearld milestone: Fitzgerald's long touchdown grab gives him 66 career scoring receptions, matching Roy Green for the franchise record. Sonny Randle (60), Mel Gray (45) and Anquan Boldin (44) are next on the list. This was also Fitzgerald's 27th 100-yard receiving game, tying him with Boldin for most in franchise history. Jackie Smith (22), Green (20) and Rob Moore (18) are next on the list.

Block party: Cardinals defensive end Calais Campbell blocked a field-goal try in the first half, the third blocked attempt of his career. The play came to mind when Arizona was protecting a 21-19 lead late in the game.



Injuries of note: The Cardinals were already thin at inside linebacker when they lost Paris Lenon to an ankle injury in the first half. Stewart Bradley and Reggie Walker were already going to see increased playing time because Arizona entered the game without starter Daryl Washington, who has a calf injury. Lenon returned to the game in the second half.

What's next: The Cardinals open the NFC West portion of their schedule with a Week 3 game at Seattle.