Well, as I predicted, it came down to special teams plays.
The Arizona Cardinals dropped their second game of the year in a game that came down to the wire against the Baltimore Ravens on Sunday at M&T Stadium. Being down 23-6 heading into the fourth quarter was familiar territory for the Cards over the past few years, but this year’s ballclub showed a lot of heart out there on the field.
Back-up QB Kurt Warner replaced Matt Leinart in the second half and led the team’s no huddle package to near-perfection and 17 unanswered points in the fourth quarter to tie the score up at 23-23 with only 1:50 remaining. His favorite target all day, Anquan Boldin, had a monster game with 14 receptions for 183 yards and two TDs. But the Cards could not stop Ravens QB Kyle Boller on their final drive of the game, in which he went 5 for 5 and setting up the winning field goal by PK Matt Stover as time expired.
Once again, the difference in the score was three points. Here are the two key plays that I think ended up being the difference makers in this game:
Our special teams coverage has been a consistent area of concern, it led to our loss on Monday Night Football against the Bears last year, and ultimately proved to be the difference maker in this one. Instead of going into halftime only down by the score of 13-3, they were down 20-3. The Cards defense stiffened in the second half, only allowing six points, but in the types of games that we’ve played in where all three of them have been decided by a field goal, we can see how crucial special teams really are.
2. On a third-and-5 from the Baltimore 23 yd line with 2:00 to play, the Cards attempt a TD pass and don’t connect
Now we’re at the two minute warning, we have two timeouts, Anquan Boldin has been absolutely spectacular all day…..you with me so far. And instead of running a drag route at 6 or 7 yards, or possibly running a draw play to keep the clock moving and catch the defense off-guard the coaches call for a jump ball to WR Bryant Johnson in the endzone that falls in complete and we settle for a field goal. As I was watching this play unfold I didn’t see the logic. Sure if he catches it everybody is happy, and I mean no disrespect to Byant because he is a solid No. 3 receiver, but come on man!! The play should have been called for Boldin to motion into the slot and come across the middle, keep the chains moving. Or just hand it off to Edgerrin James. If he gets the first down that’s all good, if he doesn’t then Neil Rackers comes on and ties up the score after 45 seconds have rolled off of the clock. Either one would have been a better play call in my opinion. On a day like this I would put the ball in Boldin’s hands and let him do his thing – he owned that defense!!
I’ve said it before, hindsight is always 20/20. Sure we could talk about Adrian Wilson’s penalty in the last minute of the game, but I am never going to fault him for playing the way he does. He’s a physical DB who brings the house every play, and because he has that reputation he gets those kinds of calls. Matt had a rough day, but he is still the Cards starting QB and we need to rally behind them as we get ready for the Steelers this Sunday. There is a lot of football left to play this year boys and girls so keep the faith!