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Classic "trap game" setup with a tough home game vs. Indy the following week. Jacksonville finally won its first game of the season a week ago, eking out a 29 - 27 win over the Titans from Tennessee. With the exception of the Week #7 loss to Seattle, the Cards held serve at home, but lost all their road games with the exception of Tampa Bay in Week #4. The Jacksonville game was an "early" East Coast road game we absolutely needed to win. Our track record playing in the East Coast time zone was not stellar, but had recently shown signs of life. We caught the Jags at a good time - right after they who were no longer scratching and clawing to get off the schneid.
Cards Win Ugly to Reach 6 & 4.
The Bottom Line:
A new familiar pattern - Cards' defense allowed the Jags to grab an early lead, but the offense, led by Carson Palmer, bailed out the "D" until Peterson, Dansby & Co. could find its mojo and hold the Jags to zero points during the final 3 quarters. There were some bizarre plays and official calls during the game; including two calls that went against the Cardinals, (a non-call on Blackmon's forearm shiver of Bethel and an interception and a non-grounding call) and a few that helped us (including an interception nullified by a time out, a wasted Jag time out and an undeserved 1st down call). Aside from (heh heh) the refs, hero of the game had to be Michael Floyd who (after losing an early jump ball battle) made several clutch catches - several of which may have gone noticed under the shadow of Floyd's 91-yard catch & run TD that changed the course of the game. It was an ugly win, but there will always be a couple of those in any winning team's W & L portfolio.
Jax received, Todman returned the KO to the Jax 29 and the Cards looked well on their way to a 3 & out, when - on 4th & 1 at their Jax 38 - the Cardinals blitzed, someone broke coverage and an uncovered unknown TE (Noble) waltzed 62 yards for a TD. Jags 7 - Cards 0.
TB on the KO. Palmer mixed short passes with inneffective runs by Mendenhall and Ellington to reach the Jax 14, where Palmer hit Fitz up the middle and the Cardinal receiver bulled over the goal line for a TD to tie the score. Jags 7 - Cards 7.
Todman returned the KO to the Cardinal 46 (If special teams are any indication of a team's overall "want-to", we don't seem to want to). A face-mask flag on DWash and a 22-yard completion to another TE (Harbor) set up a Jones-Drew one-yard TD run up the middle Jags 14 - Cards 7.
TB on the KO. Cards mounted a 10-play drive that...went nowhere. Zastudil punted from the Card 45. Sanders returned it to the Jag 9-yard line and Henne hit Shorts for +11 to end the quarter. First Quarter Score: Jaguars 14 - Cards 7.
A couple of false start flags helped undermine the Jag possession, and Anger's 56 yard punt was returned by Peterson to the Cardinal 20. Cards were held to 3 & out and Zastudil's 37-yard punt was returned to the Jag 40. Card defense stepped up and held Jax to 3 & out. Anger boxed us in at our own three (a pattern which would cost us numerous field-position battles throughout the entire game). After seven snaps, the Cards could get no farther than their own 30. Two 22-yard completions to Floyd set up a 5-yard TD run by Mendenhall (who stretched his hand holding the ball over the goal line, causing the TD to be challenged due to a possible fumble. TD was upheld by the officials. Tie score. Cardinals 14 - Jaguars 14..
1:55 til halftime. Todman returned the KO to the Jag 24. The two teams exchanged 3 & outs before Scobee's 60-yard FG attempt was wide left. All tied up at halftime (So why are we so depressed)? Halftime Score: Cardinals 14 - Jaguars 14.
Cards received. TB on the KO. After Mendenhall ran up the middle for no gain, Palmer hit Floyd for 37-yards and then Fitz for +17 and Housler for +15 to reach the Jaguar 10, but the Cards had to settle for a 21-yard Feely FG to take the lead for the first time. . Cardinals 17 - Jaguars 14.
TB on the KO. After a 15-yard completion (to M Lewis - another TE) they could get no farther than their own 41. Anger's punt was fair caught at the Cardinal 9 (Field position again). On the third play of the possession (after Palmer was sacked - we think it was the one where he stumbled for minus-4 yards). Palmer hit Floyd down the center of the field, and the Cardinal receiver broke three tackles (and took advantage of a Blackmon/Ball collision) en-route to a 91-yard TD that pretty much decided the outcome of the game. Cardinals 24 - Jaguars 14.
TB on the KO. Jags reached their own 42 in 6 plays before having to punt. (They also used up an unecessary time out). Anger's punt was returned by Peterson to the Cardinal 10. Cards went 3 & out. Jags went 3 & out. Anger's punt was downed at the Cardinal 2. Jags ended the quarter with a sack of Palmer for minus-6 yards. Third Quarter Score: Cardinals 24 - Jaguars 14.
Cards remained bottled up at their 7 and Zastudil's punt was downed at midlfield. Penalties on Meester amd Nwaneri put enough holes in the Jag drive to force them to punt from (4th & 19) at) their own 47.Punt was fair caught at the Cardinal 10. Plenty of time (11:12) on the clock. Cards went 3 & out. Punt was fair caught at the Jag 42. On the second play of the Jax possession, Henne's pass for K Taylor was deflected and picked off by Powers. Cards used 4 plays to get to the Jag 4, but a questionable grounding call (Palmer threw to a spot but his receivers broke the other way) forced us to settle for a 32-yard Feely FG. Cardinals 27 - Jaguars 14.
Todman returned the KO to the Jag 23. 7:03 left to play. Jaguars used 3:08 on 10 plays that turned the ball over to the Cardinals on downs at the Cardinal 32. Cards went 3 & out. (2 of the three plays were pass plays). Zastudil's punt was fair caught at the Jaguar 27. On the 6th play of the possession (with 1:38 on the clock and no time outs), Henne's pass over the short middle intended for Harbor was picked off by Y Bell. Three knees, game over,.Final Score: Cardinals 27 - Jaguars 14.
Penalties were close (we had 5; they had 6).
Cards held Jacksonville rushers to 32 yards on 16 carries.
Palmer completed 71.1% of his passes for 419 yards and 2 TD's. He had no interceptions (but did have a pick nullified by a late time out).
Mendenhall gained a whopping 14 yards on 13 carries. Ellington gained an even less whopping 3 yards on 8 carries.
Floyd, Housler and Fitz each had 6 grabs (with Floyd racking up 193 yards).
- Run to Pass ratio was 42 (pass) to 14 (run).
Turnovers - Cards gave up none and grabbed 2 (both lnterceptions of 2 Henne passes by Powers and Bell).
We sacked Henne twice (Abe and Campbell). Palmer was sacked three times (one of which was a botched stumble from under center).
6 Cardinals had 4 tackles or more (POwers led with 6 followed by Bell, DWash and Dansby with 5 apiece).
Our guys were tackled for a loss 4 times. (Our defense racked up 0 tackles for losses - thanks to the agility of Jones-Drew)
Third Down Efficiency was 31% (5 of 16).
Anger averaged 45.0 yards a punt, but kept us bottled up inside our 15 with 6 of 8 punts falling inside the 20. (Only one of Zastudil's 8 punts fell inside the 20).
We dominated Time of Possession 35:53 to 24:07..
Jacksonville murdered us on KO returns with 144 yards on 4 kicks (a 36.0 yard average.
Break-thru game for Floyd (after that one early dropped catchable ball).
Palmer completed 75% of his passes and (aside from that single "almost" interception and a couple of overthrows deep) played close to an error-free game.
If you add up Housler, Dray and Ballard into one combined "super TE", they caught 9 passes for 217 yards.
Floyd, Fitz and Roberts combined for 15 catches and 268 yards.
Yeremiah Bell had an interception (countering his "good tackle/no cover" reputation).
Abe continues to play with the energy of a rookie.
Once it decided to settle down and play their game, the defense held Jacksonville to no points in the final 3 quarters.
Housler repeated the production he had the previous week vs. Houston..
If you discount the time Palmer tripped over a lineman at the snap, our OL only gave up 2 sacks and generally gave Carson a clean pocket throughout the game.
We're 6 & 4, Baby!
The Dark Side
The run game. (17 yards on 21 non-scramble carries - are you kidding me)?
Special Teams came out of the gate slowly and played far below their usually high standards (i.e. allowing 36.0 yards per kickoff return, dropping only one punt inside the twenty, frequently bottling up our offense inside the ten yard line).
Who was the dude who blew the coverage on Noble early in the game?
Palmer's quick throws into the flat seem to arrive kind of slow and late. Although they didn't result in any picks, our RB's had little if any manouvering room to gain any plus-yardage.
Injuries to Bethel (concussion), Bell and Teddy Williams (gone for the season).
The familiar pattern of falling behind early and then relying on our defense and 2nd half heroics to pull out wins.
The question we should all be asking ourselves is: "To reach 10 & 6, we can only afford to lose two games. Despite our 6 & 4 record, do you think we match up favorably with the Colts, Philly, SF and Seattle?
We won ugly and are now 6 & 4. Next week we draw the Colts whom I believe are the only team to beat the Broncos. Our respective coaching staffs figure to be able to read one anothers' minds (given BA's experience there as Acting HC
when Chuck Pagano was sidelined). Wrong Mind-Set: "We're 6 and 4 so we must be good and & can afford to coast a little bit." Right Mind-Set: If we go 4 and 2 during the remainder of the season, we'll be 10 & 6 with a great shot at the playoffs. It won't be easy, but it's do-able if
we bear down on every
play. "Pedal to the Medal" everyone!