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The Titans were 5 & 8 and coming off a loss. The Cardinals were 8 & 5 and coming off a win.
Their HC's job was said to be on the line. The Cards still had an outside shot at the playoffs, but had to deal with the blow to the morale (& their level of play) of losing their second most prolific tackler (Tyrann Mathieu) for the rest of the season.
Cards blew a "safe" 10-point lead (with less than a minute to go) only to eke out a "W" in OT.
The Bottom Line:
It was a see-saw contest until midway through the third quarter when the Cardinals grabbed a 20 - 17 lead and expanded it to 27 - 17 with 6:50 to go in the 4th quarter. A Pick 6 by Cason expanded the lead even further (to 17-points) with 6:13 left to play only to see their lead dissipate - first to 10 points, then 7 points and finally to a tie score with 0:10 left on the clock. Tennessee received the KO to start OT only to see a Fitzpatrick pass get picked off on the 3rd play of the OT possession by Cason. Cards then conservatively moved into FG range where Feely booted home the winner. Cards are now 9 & 5 but still one game behind the Niners and Panthers (both of whom won today).
Tenn deferred and Cards received. TB on the KO. Cards went 3 & out. Washington returned the punt to the Tenn 36. (Cards looked "flat"). Fitzpatrick nickeled and dimed his way to the Cardinal 27 where the Titans survived a near-miss when Fitzpatrick's fumble under pressure was recovered by Tenn. Bironas was good from 45. Titans 3 - Cards 0.
Arenas returned the KO to the Card 23. A 13-yard run by Ellington, a 26-yard pass from Palmer to Ellington and a roughing the passer penalty helped set up a one-yard TD run by Mendenhall. . Cards 7 - Titans 3.
Washington returned the KO to his own 32. Fitzpatrick always seemed to be a half-step ahead of Cardinal defenders. His 25-yard TD pass to C Johnson after a twisting and turning escape from a heavy pass rush as the quarter ended was a perfect example.First Quarter Score: Titans 10 - Cardinals 7.
Arenas returned the KO to the Card 26. Palmer took his team on a 13-play drive (featuring a 22-yard scamper around riight end by Ellington). Drive stalled at the Tenn 7. Feely's 25-yarder was good. Cards 10 - Titans 10
Washington returned the KO to his own 17. Tenn moved to their own 46 in 9 plays but had to punt. Kern's punt was downed at the Cardinal 3. Clock down to 2:00 before halftime. Cards and Titans exchanged possessions without a score. Cards couldn't score on their last possession. We got ourselves a pitcher's dual. Halftime Score:
Cards 10 - Titans 10.
Tenn received. Bailey muffed the KO. Cards took over at the Tenn 23. An aborted snap on 3rd & 7 resulted in a 47-yard Feely FG. Cards 13 - Titans 10.
On the KO, T. Jefferson tripped up Washington at the Tenn 26. A 15-play Tennessee drive (marked by 4 Cardinal penalties - some questionable) made it possible for Fitzpatrick to hit Delanie Walker with a TD pass from the Cardinal one. Titans 17 - Cards 13.
Arenas returned the KO to the Cardinal 28. A 38-yard completion from Palmer to Ellington helped set up a 6-yard TD pass to Ballard. Cards 20 - Titans 17.
TB on theKO. Tenn was held to 3 & out. Punt was out of bounds at the Cardinal 40. Cards went 3 7 out and the quarter ended with Tennessee in possession at its own 33. Third Quarter Score: Cards 20 - Titans 17.
- Tenn (aided by an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty on DWash) moved from their own 33 to the Cardinal 32 where Bironas' 5-yard FG attempt was short. Cards took over on their own 40 and (aided by a 16 completion to Golden and an 18-yard completion to Fitz) marched for a TD in 10 plays capped by a one-yard run by Mendenhall. This widened the Cardinal lead to 10 points (with 6:50 to go) and should have been the pivotal game-decider. Cards 27 - Titans 17.,
Washington returned the KO to the Tenn 33. On the second play of their possession, Fitzpatrick's pass intended for N Washington was intercepted by Cason and returned 20 yards for a Cardinal TD. (That should have been the ballgame - a 17-point lead with 6:13 to play). Cards 34 - Titans 17.,
- Washington returned the KO to the Tenn 33. Fitzpatrick took his team on a 9-play drive capped by a 10 yard Fitzpatrick to Preston TD pass with 3:12 still on the clock. Cards 34 - Titans 24.
Onside kick recovered by R Johnson. Cards used up all 3 Tenn time outs but (hampered by a false start penalty on Winston) was held to 3 & out. Punt was downed at the Tenn 7 with 2:42 left. A roughing the passer penalty on Campbell moved the ball to the Tenn 22 and completions of +17 +23, +17 and +8 yards helped set up a 24-yard Bironas FG to make it a 7-point game with 0:52 left to play. Cards 34 - Titans 27.
I'd be lying if I said I didn't see it coming. The onside kick bounced off Fitzgerald and squirted underneath a couple of Cardinal players where it finally came to rest in the possession of a Tennessee player (Stafford). 0:47 left/ We couldn't stop Fitzpatrick from hitting Wright for +26 and then Wright again for +20 before Fitzpatrick hit Preston at the goal line for an 8-yard score. Game is all tied up. Cards 34 - Titans 34.
TB on the KO. I do not understand why we didn't at least try for a hail Mary with jut 0:10 left to play, but BA had Palmer take a final knee to bring it into OT. Fourth Quarter Score: Cards 34 - Titans 34
Tenn received. L Washington returned the KO to the Titan 24. On the 3rd play from scrimmage, Fitzpatrick was hit as he threw deep to Preston. Ball was underthrown and intercepted by Cason and returned to the Cardinal 46. Aside from a 9-yard completion to Dray on the second play, the winning drive was "all Mendenhall" (with runs of +5, +4, +15, minus-2 and no-gain). On 3rd & 12 at the Tenn 23, Feely's 41-yard FG attempt was good. Cardinals win! The-e- Cardinals win!
1:49 left. No more scoring. Final Score: Cards 37 - Titans 34
Palmer was 20 for 30 (66.7%) for 231 yards a TD and no interceptions..
Cards ran for 145 yards. Ellington and Mendenhall once again split the carries and the yardage. Ellington carried 10 times for 71 yards. Mendy ran 21 times for 69 yards. Mendenhall had 2 TD's.
Fitz caught 6 passes for 49 yards. Ellington (who admirably filled the role of "honorary wideout") caught 4 passes for 87 yards.
We held Tenn to 66 yards on 19 carries.
Our Run/Pass Ratio was 36 Run to 30 Passes.
We sacked Fitzpatrick 3 times - Bernard and Shaughnessy each had a sack. Dansby and Abraham shared credit for the other. Palmer was sacked twice.
DWash led the team in tackles with 9 followed by Peterson (7), Johnson (7), Dansby (6), Dockett (6) and Bell (6).
Feely was 3 for 3 in FG attempts.
We were +3 in turnovers with one fumble recovery (Bailey on the KO) and two picks by Cason (one of which was a Pick 6; the other the turnover that gave us the ball for our winning OT drive). We turned the ball over zero times.
Cards were penalized 10 times - (compared to Tennessee's 3). Calls appeared to be inconsistent and many of them open to question.
Both teams had 50% 3rd Down Efficiency (but it sure seemed as if Fitzpatrick was converting a humongous percentage of 3rd & longs to sustain drives.
Cards lost Time of Possession:
30:58 to 33:44)
Cards are 9 & 5.
We delivered a "must win" on the road.
We ran more than we passed.
We turned over the ball zero times.
Our pass blockers allowed Palmer to be sacked just once.
Our defense continues to play at a consistently high level (i.e. you know what to expect and you can bank on them).
Cason stepped up to become a game-decider. Feely delivered when called upon.
The Dark Side
We're sloppy defending onside kicks.
Tennessee scored too easily on their final drive of regulation.
Someone should rip the page - where Palmer rolls to his right outside the pocket and throws on the run - out of the Cardinal playbook. (Or at least retitle the name of the play to "Pick City Right."
The refs (once again) were flat-out awful.
We're 9 & 5 with two games left to play (against arguably the best 2 teams in the NFL) and a long-shot to make the playoffs, but these games always come down to "11 of our guys on the field vs. 11 of their guys" and anything can (& usually will) happen. Our sole focus should be on "beating Seattle next Sunday." Our prime motivation should be "remaining eligible for the playoffs. Our secondary motivations should be "enjoying the game we love, performing at the highest possible level and earning the respect of our fellow athletes." Go get Seattle, boys!