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Cards had laid an egg the previous week in Seattle. Falcs lost a squeaker to Cleveland (done in by a 37 yard Cundiff FG as time expired). Cards were 8 & 2 and positioned well to make the playoffs and possibly a good seeding. Falcs were 4 & 7 yet somehow still tied for 1st place in the NFC South. All 7 Atlanta losses were to teams outside their division.
The Falcons looked very good "on paper"; but not so hot in actual W's and L's - in other words, a perfect "trap" game" for the unsuspecting Cardinals...as, indeed, it was.
Catching a bit of "mo" (but in the wrong direction).
The Bottom Line:
Cards lost. They were blown out early. Everything we wanted to happen didn't. Everything we were afraid would happen did. I didn't get to watch the game yet (but did stay abreast of the score as I struggled to keep up with a couple of my town's EMT trucks as they sped from the Gollin driveway to Riverview Hospital in nearby Red Bank. (It looks like everything will turn out OK, but the best I could do was catch a few snippets of game-audio on SIRIUS). It's 2:16 am now, and I'll try to post as "lifelike" a synopsis of the game as possible, but please understand that my game log and othe recap info will be shorter and a bit less realistic than usual.
First news of "a tragedy in the making" was the "voice of doom" field-report on SIRIUS that the Cards were down 17 - 0 with time left on the clock in the first quarter. Score was 23 - 10 at the end of the third quarter and wound up with the Cardinals on the wrong side of a 29 - 18 trouncing). Julius Jones had a 10-catch day against the vaunted Cardinal corneback tandem of Patrick Peterson and Antonio Cromartie. That's all I can tell you for now:
Hester returned the opening KO to the Falcon 29. On the 4th play from scrimmage (kind of rhymes with the"4th day of Christmas") Steven Jackson blew past a bevy of would-be Cardinal tacklers on a 55 yard blast off right tackle to wind up on the Cardinal one-yard line. Four plays later, Matt Flynn hit Toilolo (who?) over the middle for a TD. . Atlanta 7 - Cards 0.
TB on the KO. THree & Outsville." Hester returned Butler's 50-yard punt for a TD, but the Falcon return wizard was flagged for an offensive face-mask penalty with a second (unsportsmanlike penalty) tacked on. Atlanta ball on the Cardinal 32.A 25-yard completion to J Jones over the middle set up a 20-yard field goal. An interception by Powers of a pass intended for J Jones just prior to the FG was reversed on challenge. Atlanta 10 - Cards 0.
TB on the KO. On the fourth play ("of Christmas"...er of scrimmage, the Cards made a gift in the form of Lowery's interception of Stanton's pass for Jaron Brown. 1st & 10 at the Cardinal 32. On the second play of the Atlanta possession, Ryan hit J Jones again - this time for 32-yards and another Falcon TD with 5:45 still left in the 1Q. Atlanta 17 - Cards 0.
Ginn returned the KO to the Cardinal 18. Cards finally picked up a first down, but eventually had to punt from their 33. Touchback. They managed to reach the Cardinal 46 in 7 plays as the quarter (mercifully) ended.
1st Quarter Score: Atlanta 17 - Cards 0.
The Falcs reached the Cardinal 25 on the first play of the second quarter, but on the very next play, Rashad Johnson picked off a Ryan pass intended for J Jones and returned it 88-yards for a Cardinal TD. Atlanta 17 - Cards 7.
Hester returned the KO to the Falcon 21. Falcs pretty much kept the ball on the ground (with 4 of 6 plays runs by Jackson or Freeman) but finally had to punt from their own 45. Punt was downed at the Cardinal 4. On the fifth play of the Cardinal possession, Stanton hit Floyd for 13-yards over the middle, but the Cardinal WR with the big hands fumbled and Trufant recovered. Falcon ball on their own 40. A Falcon penalty and a sack by Alexander helped them go 3 & out. TB on the punt. Completions to Ginn (for 19 and 22 yards and Grice (for +15) set up a 44-yard Catanzaro FG. (We're still in it). Atlanta 17 - Cards 10.
Hester returned the KO to the Atlanta 27 with 2:42 left till halftime. They then reeled off 12 plays before settling for a 23-yard Bryant FG with 0:03 on the clock. Halftime over.
First Half Score: Atlanta 20 - Cards 10.
Cards received. TB on the KO. Penaties on Floyd and Carlson helped destroy the opening Cardinal possession and we punted from our own 20. Punt was out of bounds at the Falcon 12. A 41-yard completion to Jones helped move the Falcs to the Cardinal 3 where they had to settle for a 21 yard Bryant FG. Falcons 23 - Cards 10.
TB on the KO. Cards hung onto the ball for 7 plays but didn't get much going - they punted from the Atlanta 46. Punt was fair caught by Hester at the Falcon 14. They reached their own 43 as the quarter ended
Third Quarter Score: Atlanta 23 - Cards 10.
Atlanta managed to reach the Cardinal 27 in four plays, but had to settle for a 45-yard field goal. Atlanta 26 - Cards 10.
TB on the KO. Cards went 3 & out. Atlanta got the ball back at their own 19 with 11:25 left to play. We held them to a 3 & out, with Ginn returning the punt to our own 29. we reached the Falcon 43 before Stanton was picked off again. (Wilson returned it to the Atlanta 47 with 7:17 left to play. Atlanta sucked nearly 5-minutes off the clock with an 11-play drive capped by a 28-yard Bryant FG. Atlanta 29 - Cards 10.
TB on the KO. Stanton finally got something going operating vs. the Atlanta prevent defense. He hit Jaron Brown for +11 yards, Carlson for +11, John Brown for +27 and JRon B for +12 before eventually reaching the Atlanta 3-yard line where Taylor caught a 3-yard pass from Stanton with 1:09 left. 2-point attempt was no good, but a defensive pass interference penalty gave Taylor the extra shot at scoring the 2-pointer. This time the attempt was good. Atlanta 29 - Cards 18.
Onside kick recovered by Atlanta. Two knees. Game over.
Final Score: Atlanta 29 - Cards 18.
Passing Efficiency: Stanton went 24 for 39, 294 yards, 1 TD and 2 interceptions. (Ryan threw 41 times, completing 30 for 2 TD's and 1 interception.
Run Game: Cards were held to a total of 35 yards on 11 carries (including one by Stanton)while giving up 152 yards on 34 carries.
Receiving: Fitz evidently didn't play Jaron Brown caught 7 for 75 yards. Floyd caught 5. Ginn caught 4.
Defense: Falcs s gained 500 total net yards (142 on the ground and 358 thru the air).
Cardinal Run/Pass Ratio: Runs: 11/Passes: 39.
Sacks: No sacks credited to Atlanta. Cards had one sack (by Alexander).
Leading Cardinal Tacklers: Foote 12, Cromartie 8, Peterson 6, R Johnson 6.
Field Goals: Catanzaro went one for one (from 44).
Turnover Ratio: -2. Two picks plus Floyd's fumble vs. R Johnson's one pick 6.
Penalties: Seattle was penalized 9 times. Cards were flagged 5 times.
3rd Down Efficiency: Cards converted 14.0% (1 for 7). Seattle converted 43% (7 of 16).
Time of Possession: Us - 22:57/Them: 37:03
The Dark Side
Cards squandering an early-season advantage just as its division competitors are gathering up steam.
Our vaunted corners couldn't contain Jones.
Injuries (we don't have a total body count yet) and the mpact of missing Fitz
Letting the other side exploit known offensive threats (i.e. Steven Jackson. Julius Jones)
We still couldn't crack the 40-yard mark in our run game (Pitiful).
We blew a winniable game vs. a beatable competitor. In doing so, everything that could go wrong did. And everything we needed to go right didn't. If we continue to play that way, you can kiss the playoffs goodbye. Where's our mental toughnesss?