There are many things you can point to that explain why the Cardinals lost once again to the Minnesota Vikings. John Skelton‘s ill-timed fumble and an interception that was returned for a touchdown might have been the biggest reasons why the Cardinals failed to win this game. However, I would point to something else — the three times in the fourth quarter that the Cardinals were in Vikings territory, yet failed to convert on a third-down play.
Twice the Cardinals were forced to punt — on the Vikings 40-yard line and 49-yard line. Once the Cardinals were on the Vikings 32-yard lane and decided to go for it on fourth down — and John Skelton was sacked. Those were three big opportunities where the Cardinals were moving the ball (mostly because of the fine running of LaRod Stephens-Howling) and could have played themselves back into the game, yet failed to score.
In addition, in the first half, the Cardinals started offensive drives in the Vikings territory on four separate occasions, yet only produced seven points.
It’s hard to win games when your offense isn’t able to close out a drive, or convert on a fourth and 1, even when your defense holds the opposing quarterback to a total of 58 yards passing.
And speaking of fourth down plays, can someone explain why Ken Whisenhunt decided to go for a first down in the third quarter when the Cardinals were on the Vikings 23-yard line, when they could have attempted a medium range 40-yard field goal? I cannot understand the logic! A field goal would have put the Cardinals down by 11 (a field goal, a TD and two point conversion). Instead, the Cardinals failed to get a first down, and were still down by 14 points. Given that we know that Jay Feely is capable of kicking a 60-yard field goal, I’d rather play the odds of attempting to tie the game with 11 points than having to get a first down — and then still need 14 points to tie.