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The Setup
We woke up GameDay expecting to have Carson Palmer back at the helm only to discover to our dismay that our starting QB would be Drew Stanton. It was our first road game of the season and an early east coast one to boot; meaning that, in "real time", the Cardinals would be kicking off at 10 am (i.e. before brunch time) in AZ.
The Cards were coming off a close win over the Chargers. The Giants had looked miserabe in their opening contest in Detroit. The Giants continued to be preoccupied with learning a newly installed west coast offense. Because of the intense competition within our division, the Cards cannot afford to lose any game (at least without a fight) lest it count as one of 6 or more losses that could cost us a playoff spot as it did a year ago. The Cardinals were still dealing with the loss of their best (some would say only) outside pass rusher and veteran leader, John Abraham. The Giants' home field is in New Jersey. I live in New Jersey. I used to go to Giant games with my family (all but one - me - a Giant rooter).

This makes every Cardinal - Giant game all the more special. There have been memorable ones - including the one where Charley Johnson completed 16 straight passes (over Dick Lynch) to Sonny Randle, "the most boring Monday Night Football game ever played -(a 20-20 tie in a persistent drizzle) and the gut-wrenching late-second lost to a Giant team involving at least one missed field goal, improbably made field goal and Hostetler (in for Phil Sims) making up a 19-point fourth quarter deficit to eke out a win. I hate when we lose - I have to put up with the trash talk in the NYC tabloids and deal with mentions of "dynasty" from my Giant-fan buddies. For reverse reasons - winning is nice.

The Lede
Cards Beat Giants on the Road

The Bottom Line:
The game was closer than the 25 - 14 score indicates. Cards built an early 10-point lead, with Stanton and our receivers looking, at the very least, "efficient", while the Cardinal defense held Eli Manning and his offense at bay. But Manning and his receivers (heavily criticized for their discombobulated play in their first game) began to get their sea-legs under them and built a narrow 14 - 10 lead going into the 4Q. Then the wheels came off - More drops than Ludens by Giant receivers. More Giant turnovers than Betty Crocker. A 71-yard punt return by Ted Ginn Jr. Three field goals by The Cat Man.

The Cards posted 15 unanswered points in the 4th quarter to win one on the road and go 2 & 0. End of story.

Game Recap

1st Quarter
  • TB on the opening KO. Stanton opened up with a 19-yard completion to Floyd and then a 17-yard third down completion to Fitz followed by a 22-yard scoot around left end by Ellington. A sack (for minus-7) was more than negated by a roughing the passer flag (which also negated a delay of game call on Stanton). After a TD on an 8-yard completion to Fitz was reversed, Dwyer took it up the gut for a one-yard TD. For Stanton, it was an impressive 11- play, 80-yard TD drive. Cards 7 - Giants 0.

  • Demps (who had a marvelous day congratulating himself) returned the KO to his 22. The first six Giant plays gained +10 on a run, +11 on a pass, +11 on another pass, +3 on a run, +19 on a pass and +3 on another pass. But on 3rd & 8 at the Cardinal 30, Manning's pass intended for Cruz was intercepted by Acho. Cards took over at their own 29. After Stanton ws sacked (again) on the first play, he moved the offense to the Giant 31 in 10 plays, including runs by Ellington (+15) and Dwyer (+20) but had to settle for a Catanzaro FG from 49 yards. Cards 10 - Giants 0.

  • Demps returned the KO to the Giant 16 and completions to Donnel and Randle helped move them to their own 36 as the quarter ended. First Quarter Score: Cards 10 - Giants 0.

2nd Quarter
  • Two penalties on the Cardinal secondary (including one that negated a fumble recovery by Keiser) helped sustain the Giant drive, but a minus-9 yard sack by Rashad Johnson forced them to punt. Fair caught by Ginn at the Cardinal 9 (amidst all kinds of negative fan commentary on various chat rooms). A 20-yard completion to John Brown helped move us out to the near midfield but the drive stalled and Butler punted from the Giant 49. Fair caught at the 10. Manning then took his offense on a 13-play drive capped by a 7-yard TD completion to Randle. Drive included three completions to Cruz (one for 27 yards). Cards 10 - Giants 7.

  • 0:37 left till halftime.A holding call on the KO pushed the Cards back to their 10 yard line. A 36-yard completion to Fitz was negated by a hands-to-face flag on Veldheer. Quarter ended with Stanton taking a knee. First Half Score: Cards 10 - Giants 7.

3rd Quarter
  • Demps returned the 2nd half KO to the Giant 18. A personal foul on Pugh helped derail the opening drive and forced the Giants to go 3 & out. Ginn retrned the punt 5 yards to the Card 44. On the first play of the series, Stanton was sacked (again) for minus-8 and the Cards then went 3 & out. A partial block of Butler's punt was nullified by an illegal use of hands flag on Demps and gave the Giants the ball at their own 18. A 29-yard completion moved the ball to the Card 46, but the defense stiffened and Weatherford's punt rolled into the end zone for a touchback. Cards were held to a 3 & out (which included another sack of Stanton). Punt was returned to the Giant 26. Two more flags on our DB's cost us 30 yards(after the second one put the ball on the Cardinal one, Manning hit Fells in the end zone for a TD that gave the Giants the lead for the first time. Giants 14 - Cards 10.

  • Ginn again fielded the KO in the end zone and brought it out to the Cardinal 7. (Screams for Ginn's head from the Cardinal peanut gallery could be heard all across the Internet). An illegal contact flag on Rolle helped did us out of a hole and got us to our own 23 as the quarter ended. Third Quarter Score: Giants 14 - Cards 10.

4th Quarter
  • An illegal contact call on DRC helped move the chains. A 15-yard run by Ellington (for +15) and completions to Fitz (for +10) and Carlson (+11) helped move us to the Giant 19, where the drive stalled and Cat Man was good from 37-yards. We've got a one-point game. Giants 14 - Cards 13.

  • Demps returned the KO to his own 22. We held the Giants to 3 & out. Ginn caught the punt at the Cardinal 29, doubled back (as he'd done so many times before) but this time suddenly cut north-south, eluding the first tackler and then weaving his way to a 71-yard momentum-changing score. 2-point try (a run up the middle) was no good. Cardinals 19 - Giants 14

  • On the following kickoff, the ball was jarred loose from Demps by Demens and recovered by Hughes. Cards ball at the Giant 21. We couldn't get past their 14 and Catanzaro's 3rd FG was good from 32. Cards 22 - Giants 14.

  • 9:11 left. (Giants figured to have at least two shots to score a TD, make the 2-pt conversion and tie it up). Demps returned the KO to his 20. A neutral zone infraction on Kelly and a completion to Donnell helped move the chains. A 23-yard completion to Donnell moved them into Cardinal territory. A run by Jennings and another completion (for +10) to Donnell moved them to the Cardinals 17. On 2nd & 10, Manning hit Jennings in the flat for a 2-yard gain, but he was apparently tripped up by the "turf monster", fell to his knees and then coughed up the ball. (Since no one had touched him, the ball was considered "live"). Rashad Johnson recovered. Cardinal ball at their own 14 with 4:30 left to play.

  • A +16 yard completion to Nikklas helped move us to our 40, but we fell short of a first down by one yard and Butler's [punt was returned to the Giant 15 with 3:19 to play and one remaining Giant time out. But the Cardinal defense stiffened and forced them into a 4 & out. Cards took over on downs at the Giant 19, they drained all but 1:17 off the clock and Catanzaro booted the clincher from 33 yards out. Cards 25 - Giants 14.

  • Five plays later, game was over. Final Score: Cards 25 - Giants 14.

Game Stats
Statistically, it was the +4 turnover ratio and the Ginn punt return that turned the game around.

  • Passing Efficiency: Stanton was 14 for 29, 167 yards, 0 TD's and no interceptions.

  • Run Game: Cards ran the ball 28 times for 124 yards. Ellington carried 15 times for 91 yards.

  • Receiving: Fitz led the Cards with 6 catches for 51 yards. John Brown was second with 3 for 28.
  • Defense: Giants ran for 81 net yards (on 27 carries) and 260 net passing yards. Manning completed 26 of 39 passing attempts for 277 yards, 2 TD's and 2 interceptions.

  • Cardinal Run/Pass Ratio: 28 runs/33 passes.

  • Sacks: Palmer was sacked 4 times. (We sacked Manning twice).

  • Leading Tacklers: Calais Campbell led the team in tackles with 10, followed by Jefferson (8), Foote (8, Johnson (6) and Bucannon (6).).

  • Field Goals: Catanzaro was 4 for 4.

  • Turnover Ratio: +4. We recovered two fumbles and had 2 interceptions (Acho and Foote)

  • Penalties: 7 for 71 yards (Giants were flagged 9 times for 70).

  • 3rd Down Efficiency: 5 for 13. Giants were 6 for 12 (50%)

  • Time of Possession: Us - 27:31/Them - 32:29

Bright Spots

  • We won on the road, in the east, at 10 am AZ Time.

  • We're 2 & 0 and haven't lost any ground to our divisional opponents. (In fact, Seattle lost yesterday).

  • We came from behind (15 unanswered 4th quarter points.

  • We won despite not having Carson Palmer or John Abraham in the lineup (Says something about the value of Arians's system and its ability to keep games close (& eventually win them) regardless of who suits up.

  • Fitz is back on track.

  • Catanzaro (4 for 4) was "money."

  • Ellington gained 91 yards and averaged over 6 YPC.

  • Demens continues to look better and better.

  • Ginn got his mojo back.

  • Any time a team racks up 4 take-aways, it means our guys on the field consistently seek to take away the ball.

  • Stanton looked solid if not sensational.

The Dark Side

  • Until that rickety Giant 4Q, if you compared the number of times our receivers came down with big (hotly contested) passes with the number of times Giant receivers made those plays or won those battles - the perception, at least, as that the Giant guys were winning 80% of those battles vs, 20% for our guys.

  • Their rookie TE (Donnell) came down with 7 catches for 81 yards.

  • Our vaunted secondary allowed Manning to complete 26 of 39 passes.

  • We still didn't get much of a pass rush (2 sacks notwithstanding).

Last Word:
We won. (Wheww again!). We came back from behind (again!) to do it. No major injuries (we know of). We did it without Palmer, Abraam and Zastudil. It will continue to be hard to gauge exactly where we are in the pecking-order in our division talent-wise until we play the Niners (next Sunday) and Seattle. But the "Hawks did unexpectedly lose yesterday. What yesterday's win should have taught us is that strange things happen in the game of football (like a dude falling down all by himself and coughing up the ball or a punt returner - who to this point looked horrible - could turn around a game with a long TD return) and that an important trait is to shake off injuries, suspensions, retirements and other distractions and keep grinding so that those "lucky" breaks pay off and don't get squandered. One play at a time. One series at a time. One quarter at a time. One game at a time. Next up, the Niners!
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Copyright 1996 Gollin & Associates. Last modified: 11/26/2012