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The Setup
Game #3 is considered by most teams to be the most crucial in preseason because teams have had ample opportunity to audition players at the back 50 - 60% of their depth chart and are now focusing on (1) fine-tuning their starting offensive and defensive units and (2) determining which 15 players to cut in order to bring their roster down from 90* to 75 players by the Aug. 26th first cutdown date.

The Cards face this game somewhat traumatized by the loss of Darnell Dockett (ACL) for the season and now have the additional job of figuring out how to replace him (either thru promotion from within, FA help from outside or a change in scheme).

They'll probably also want to focus on: (1) fine tuning the offense with special emphasis on ratcheting up the running game and getting our TE's more productively involved; (2) finding a way to more effectively rush the passer (unfortunately, we'll have to do it without Darnell's physical presence opposite Calais); (3) linebacker play (most notably, accomodating the inclusion of newcomers like Foote and Bishop on the inside); (4) better play by our safeties (both in taking better tackling angles and defending passes to the TE); and (5) in general, determining which 14 - 15 players to let go.

The Lede
Palmer Bombs/Starting Defense Shines as Cards lose 19 - 13.

The Bottom Line:
The Cardinals showed flashes of how good they could be when clicking on all cylindars, but they also demonstrated that they were fully capable of laying an egg and losing winnable football games. I'm not sure what the problem was - my guess is that the mind-set of some of our experienced veterans was that their focus should be on "not getting injured." With the exception, perhaps, of rookie John Brown and his fellow receivers, Floyd and Fitz (& Jaron Brown as gunner), you just didn't get the feeling that anyone one was willing to extend themselves to come up with the key catch, key run, key tackle or key break-up. Palmer's (public) attitude after the game seemed to be "Sometimes these things happen." Well, IMHO, they simply can't happen often (or be tolerated when they do) if we're to have a shot at the playoffs. (Our biggest enemy is "us."

Game Recap

1st Quarter
  • Cincinnati received. On the opening KO, Jaron Brown wiped out Tate at the 17. Cards' defense stifled the Cinct "O" and held them to 3 & out.

  • Ginn (who should have fair caught it) nearly muffed the Bengal punt and returned it for zero yards to the Cardinal 42. With the exception of a 9-yard run by Ellington and a 9-yard completion to Fitz, the Cardinal offense looked out of synch. On 3 consecutive pass plays, Carson Palmer overthrew wide open receivers (John Brown and two "TD gimmes" to Floyd) forcing Zastudil to punt from the Cincy 37. It was fair caught at the Cincy 7. Dalton managed to move the ball to the Bengal 27 before they had to punt. Ginnn returned the punt 16 yards to the Cardinal 37.

  • On the 3rd play from scrimmage (a pass play), Fitz broke long, Palmer threw short and Terence Newman picked it off and scooted 54 yards down the left sideline for a Pick 6. Bengals 7 - Cards 0.

  • TB on the KO. On the 3rd play of the series Palmer hit Fitz on a slant up the middle and #11 turned it into a 43-yard gain. But Palmer was unable to move his team past the Cincy 30, and Feely's chip shot (from 48-yards) was wide-right. (Ughh)! After Dalton hit Sanu for +3, Cincy couldn't do much and punted four plays later. Ginn muffed but recovered the punt on the Cardinal 10. Plamer was held to 3 & out. Zastudil punted 54 yards to the Cincy 27. Penalties moved Cincy to its own 7 as the quarter ended. First Quarter Score: Bengals 7 - Cards 0..

2nd Quarter
  • Huber's punt was downed at the Cincy 41. A 24-yard scamper by Ellington gave the Cards a 1st down at the Cincy 13, but Palmer couldn't put the ball past the 6, and this time Feely was good from 24 yards. Cincy 7 - Cards 3.

  • Tate's 30 yard return on the KO was nullified by a penalty and the Bengs started from their 7. Dalton hitAJ Green for +13 and mixed medium-short range passes and a 33 yard completion (to the Tight End !) Gresham with runs by Hill and Bernard to sustain a 13-play (6:01) drive which mercifully was halted at the Cardinal 30, where Nugent booted a 48-yarder. Cincy 10 - Cards 3.

  • 5:55 till halftime.

  • Cards went 3 & out on the next series. Cincy took over on the Cardinal 35 with 3:54 till halftime. This time, Dalton and the Bengal offense held onto the ball for 10-plays before Nugent was good from 36 with 0:03 left on the clock to end the scoring for the quarter. Cincy 13 - Cards 3.

Halftime Score: Cincy 13 - Cards 3.

3rd Quarter
  • Cards received. TB on the KO. Stanton in for Palmer. A penalty on Cincy gave the Cards their only 1st down, but they were forced to punt from their own 49. A non-fumble on the return was challenged by the Cards but the play was upheld. Cincy took over on their own 19. Jason Campbell in for Dalton. A penalty helped force Cincy into a 3 & out. Cards took over on their own 26. Stanton helped sustain a 12 play (6:23) drive but couldn't move past the Bengal 6 where Catanzaro was good from 23. Highlights included a couple of nice catches and runs by Fells and a 9-yard completion to Jaron Brown. Cincy 13 - Cards 6.

  • KO was returned to the Cincy 16, and we held them to 3 & out. Holding call on Cromartie on punt return. We started from the Cincy 35, and on the second play from scrimmage, John Brown made a diving catch in the end zone for a 30-yard TD. All tied up. Cincy 13 - Cards 13.

  • TB on the KO (Catanzaro is outkicking Feely). A 34-yard completion to Hamilton (over Teddy Williams) moved Cincy to the Cardinal 45 to end the quarter.

Third Quarter Score: Cincy 13 - Cards 13..

4th Quarter
  • Campbell moved Cincy to the Cardinal 15 in 12 plays (5:13) where the drive stalled at the Cardinal 15 and Sharp was good from 34-yards. Aside from the 34-yarder to Hamilton, longest play of the drive was a 7-yard completion - also to Hamilton. Cincy 16 - Cards 13.

  • Penalty on T Williams on the KO pinned us back on our 10. Logan Thomas in for Stanton and was (hello!) sacked for minus-5 on the first play from scrimmage. We were able to get to our own 32 before being forced to punt. Cincy tool over on their own 22. The next play after a penalty on our rookie LB (Carson) converted a Cincy 3rd down instead of forcing them to punt, Peerman broke off a 37-yard run ending in a TD-saving (Horse-collar) tackle by McCann. Drive stalled at the Cardinal 34 (when the refs upheld BA's challenge reversing a completion call) but Sharp tacked on another 3-points - this time from 51-yards. Cincy 19- Cards 13.

  • 5:29 left. Powell returned KO to Card 16. False start penalty on Sowell helped force a 3 & out. Cincy ran Hill up the middle 7 straight times for +5, +11, +14, +6 (penalty), -4, -1, +0. Cards got the ball back with 0:09 left. Thomas was intercepted on the final play of the game.

  • Fourth Quarter Score: Cincy 19- Cards 13.

Game Stats

  • Passing Efficiency: Palmer was 7 for 19, 92 yards, no TD's and an interception. Stanton was 10 for 13, 108 yards, a TD and no interceptions. Thomas was 2 for 7, 21 yards, no TD's and one interception

  • Run Game: Ellington - 9 carries for 46 yards. Dwyer had 5 carries for 7 yards. The rest was scattered.

  • Receiving: Fitz had 3 catches for 71 yards (long gain of 43). John Brown caught 4 for 56 yards and a TD (long gain of 30). Golden caught 3 for 36 and Fells caught 3 for 34. Six other receivers caught one apiece.
  • Defense: Cincy completed 20 of 35 passing attempts for 215 net yards. They ran for 122 yards on 30 rushing attempts. Our defense wound up with no sacks and zero take-aways.

  • Run/Pass Ratio: 19 runs/39 passes.

  • Sacks: Thomas was sacked once. We didn't sack anybody

  • Leading Tacklers: Bucaanon (7), Peterson (6) Carson (4), Demens (4), Foote (4), Jefferson (4).

  • Field Goals: One by Feely and one by Catanzaro.

  • Turnover Ratio: -2 (both picks by Cincy. Our defense/coveragew teams had no take-aways)

  • Penalties: 7 for 55 yards (Cincy was flagged13 times for 122 yards).

  • 3rd Down Efficiency: 23% (Cincy had 26%)

  • Time of Possession: 27:42 (vs. 32:18 for Cincy)

Bright Spots

  • Jaron Brown's tackle on the opening KO. He also had a nice catch.

  • John Brown's TD catch.

  • The two catches (& that one RAC) by Fells.

  • McCann's preventing a TD by catching Peerman from behind. (Though horse-collar not cool).

  • T Williams was outrun on a slant pattern but made TD saving catch.

  • Coverage teams looked good throughout game.

  • Logan Thomas looked rattled under slight pressure and either "thought" for an extra split second before deciding or got "happy feet" and was not in the correct position to throw. He also eye-balled his receiver on a misdirection screen.
  • Safeties looked good (especially Jefferson)

  • Kareem Martin showed Dockett-like penetration quickness and skill when he blew up one offensive play from inside.

  • Ellington's one long run.

  • No injuries.

  • Our defense gave up no TD's.

  • Jason Campbell played the entire 2nd half vs. our backup defenders.

The Dark Side

  • Palmer looked butt-ugly.

  • The miscommunication between Palmer and Fitz has to be cleaned up. It never should happen.

  • Stanton didn't look much better (on one play, he threw into coverage by 4-defenders

  • Feely didn't come thru at (what for him is) "crunch time."

  • Cromartie's whiff on that sideline tackle and being penalized one or more times on special teams.

  • The dropped pass by Fells.

  • Our defense continues to have trouble getting off the field on third downs.

  • Cardinal run defense mailed it in during final 4:30 of game.

  • No sacks

Last Word:
The Cardinals have shown how good they can look when everyone is at the top of their game, but this week, they also showed how bad they can look when everyone isn't as mentally sharp as they need to be. (They are absolutely capable of laying an egg). If they let their guard down just for a moment, they're toast. The Cards cannot afford to take off a play, a series, a quarter or a game. Period.

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Copyright 1996 Gollin & Associates. Last modified: 11/26/2012