Sunday, October 30, 2011
Wrap-up: Ravens 30, Cardinals 27
By Mike Sando
Thoughts on the Arizona Cardinals' 30-27 road defeat against the Baltimore Ravens in Week 8:
What it means: The Cardinals have now blown second-half leads in losing to Washington, Seattle, the New York Giants and Baltimore, making it tough to build on what progress they did show while building a 24-6 halftime lead against the Ravens. At 1-6, the Cardinals face three consecutive road games following a Week 9 home date with St. Louis, which appeared reborn while upsetting New Orleans.
What I liked: Kevin Kolb absorbed quite a bit of punishment early, but hung tough and drove the Cardinals in position to take a first-quarter lead. His 66-yard completion to Larry Fitzgerald was the longest play against the Ravens this season. Beanie Wells played despite a knee injury and scored a go-ahead touchdown in the second quarter. Rookie first-round pick Patrick Peterson, having already revived the Cardinals' punt-return game this season, scored on an 82-yarder to give Arizona welcome breathing room. The Cardinals finally turned the page at outside linebacker, giving rookie Sam Acho the start over an inactive Joey Porter while also finding time for O'Brien Schofield. Both players recorded sacks. Richard Marshall's interception was a big play for Arizona. The Cardinals held Joe Flacco without a touchdown pass. They allowed only 107 yards rushing, a respectable number.
What I didn't like: The passing game remained inconsistent. The pressure Baltimore put on Kolb was a big factor. Kolb remained hit-and-miss in how he dealt with the pressure. Sometimes, he scrambled to make plays, as when he found Early Doucet in the first half. He somehow avoided a sack that might have moved the team out of realistic field-goal range while trailing 27-24. Other times, Kolb risked sacks and turnovers. He's an adventure at a position where teams need consistency over time. The Cardinals converted just twice on 11 third-down opportunities. The offense managed only 207 yards compared to 405 for the Ravens. On defense, cornerback A.J. Jefferson had a rough game against Anquan Boldin. The Cardinals eventually changed up their coverage plan as a result. Jefferson was not on the field late.
What's next: The Cardinals are home against the St. Louis Rams in Week 9.