The Morning After: Arizona Cardinals Ugly Win in Week 12
By Erich Becker
The Arizona Cardinals win, and it wasn’t pretty, but is there really an ugly win in this league?
The Arizona Cardinals knew this was a game they had to win. After two weeks of triumphant displays on Sunday Night Football against the top two defenses in the league, losing to San Francisco, even to a team that plays better at home, would be disastrous. Maybe not so much to their season, but to their public image.
The Pittsburgh Steelers didn’t do the team any favors by losing to the Seahawks long after the Arizona Cardinals game was over, but if they had a four game lead would have opened up with five to play. Still, a three game cushion is desirable in the same circumstances, but a loss would have brought that to two and memories of last season come flooding back.
There is a lot to be thankful in this win, but there are some scary aspects as well, and I’m not just talking about watching Carson Palmer scramble for eight-is-he-ever-going-to-get-there yards. With injuries mounting in the last two games, this 9-2 Arizona Cardinals team looks back at themselves a year ago at 9-1 when the injuries just became too much for them to overcome and they finished with a whimper in the playoffs behind a currently undefeated Panthers team. This isn’t the road we wan to go down again.
The game was filled with questionable officiating calls on both sides, the 49ers may say they lost the game because of questionable calls, but there was a lot of controversy to go around. At one point, the refs incorrectly administered a too many men penalty against San Francisco but lost track of down and distance, a six minute conversation later the Cardinals ended up on the wrong side of the call and failed to keep the drive alive.
Up and down the field, except a final stand on defense, the game was mostly lethargic for the red birds, as if they didn’t want to win in San Francisco, something they hadn’t done since 2008 as the TV graphics told us. Tyrann Mathieu was a force on the field this week, 13 tackles and a pick of Blaine Gabbert. All in all, the Arizona Cardinals let Gabbert get the best of them, picking on Jerraud Powers and his replacement after injury, Justin Bethel. Tony Jefferson had a monster game, but for as many issues as the 49ers have had this season, slowing the top scoring offense in the league, a team who put up 47 points on them nine weeks ago, is impressive.
Still, the win goes in favor of the Arizona Cardinals, who triumphed over a lot of self adversity, questionable officiating, and interesting play calls. The long ball was missing this week, even with all receivers on deck with both Michael Floyd and John Brown playing. J.J. Nelson came up big when he needed to, and Larry Fitzgerald added another career game against a division foe.
Next up is St. Louis, a very pissed off St. Louis. Who will play QB is still undecided at this point, but this is one of only two teams who have beat the Cardinals this season, and their only loss at home. That needs to be avenged, but if Big Red plays like this, the Rams may be looking at a season sweep.