Well, I’ve calmed down now…….
The Arizona Cardinals dropped their first game of the year for the 6th time in the last 7 years, a stat that I am not happy to report. But what kills me the most about this game is that even though it was sloppy, the Cards were in control thanks to the excellent play of their defense!
In what was built up to be a showdown of two young guns at QB with high powered offensive weapons, it was the defensive pressure that was the highlight of this game. You will probably read on any other sports webpage about how these teams aren’t ready for the postseason, or how Seattle is just going to walk through this division, but they’re wrong. Both defenses were sharp, limiting the deep ball (until the last 40 seconds) and putting pressure on QBs Matt Leinart and Alex Smith.
It was a tough one to lose when we really just gave it away again, but like the title says, hindsight is always 20/20. That being said, let’s look at the key plays that led to the loss:
1. Leinart’s first pass of the 2007 regular season was intercepted in Arizona territory and returned to the Arizona 14 yd line, leading to a Frank Gore TD. Was it a bad pass? Yes, but…..WR Larry Fitzgerald ran a lazy comeback route and instead of running the DB off of him and coming back sharply to the ball he just rounded it out, allowing CB Walt Harris to get a jump on the ball.
Solution: a better read by Leinart (who should have dumped it off to FB Terrelle Smith) and a better route by Fitzgerald.
2. The first 3:30 of the second half resulted in 6 Cardinals penalties and gave the 49ers excellent field position at the Cards 35 yd line, resulting in a field goal which proved to be the difference. Arizona was second in the league last year only to Minnesota in terms of penalties, and right now they’re number one. Again, not a good stat to lead the league in. Mental errors killed this team on several drives, causing several long yardage for Leinart to try to pick up through the air which wasn’t happening all night.
Solution: I’m not sure, coaches can drill and drill and drill but they can only do so much. Players have to take responsibility and make smart plays, so we’ll see.
3. Eric Green had a chance to end the game by doing one of two different things.
Option 1 – When FS Terrance Holt caused Arnez Battle to fumble the ball into the endzone, he simply had to fall on it. Now I know that is not as easy as I make it sound, but players drill on it everyday, it’s called the snake drill. You practice wrapping yourself around the ball and recovering the fumble.
Option 2 – he could have knocked it out of the back of the endzone. Since the Niners were the last team to have possession, it would have also resulted in a touchback, giving the Cards the ball on the 20 yard line and the game is over.
But what happens? he tries to pick it up???? Did he believe that he was going to return it 109 yards for the score in order to top the Patriots returner Hobbs’ 108 score? I can’t say, but you know the rest.
Solution: Don’t make stupid mistakes!! Can’t say it any plainer than that!!
Well, the defense was ready, the ground game was ready, but Leinart did not look good. He is going to have to rebound big time in the home opener against Seattle this weekend. The offense and indeed this team’s fortunes go through him and if he’s off, we’re all gonna be in for a long day. Matt just needs to settle down, set his feet and deliver the ball. He made some great plays, but needs to shake this loss off and just focus on the Hawks now……and so do all of us, especially me.