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The Setup
Last week - for the second straight game - the Cards came out flat and lethargic; this time to the lightly regarded Falcons. Everything that could go wrong went wrong - Matt Ryan, J Jones, Jesse Hester and Steven Jackson had their way with us. On the flip side, Drew Stanton continued to look "less than meh" and his receivers (Floyd, Ginn and Jaron Brown) had up & down outings. This was the first week where the supposedly vaunted Cardinal defense failed to step up and carry the team on its back. To put it bluntly - if the Cards keep doing like they've beendoing, they can kiss the season goodbye. Meanwhile, KC lost to the Broncos and are fighting for their lives to remain alive in t he AFC playoff picture. They appear to be match the Cardinals in just about every category, and we're in for a dogfight this Sunday.

The Lede
Cards overcome early miscues to eke out a squeaker over Chiefs.

The Bottom Line:
The Cards fell behind 14 - 6 at halftime - victim of a long TD run by Charles, a funky play-call inside the 10 and the inability of the defense to stop KC from converting a 3rd & 19 on the fringe of field goal territory - but managed to hang on in the second half (despite botching a late FG attempt) to win a squeaker over a very smart, well-executing Chief football team.

Game Recap
Cards drew first blood with a 44-yard Catanzaro FG, but quickly fell behind when Jamaal Charles scored from 63 yards out in the first quarter The Cards fought back and posted another 3 points early in the second quarter to narrow the score to 7 - 6 on a 33-yard Catanzaro field goal.But KC came rigt back with an 18-yard catch & scoot to dig the Cardinals a 14 - 6 halftime hole. Cards chipped away in the 3rd quarter, preventing KC from scoring on their opening drive and kicking Catanzaro's 3rd field goal to make it 14 - 9 Chiefs. The Cards finally grabbed the lead in a 3rd-quarter flurry of points when Stanton hit Jaron Brown for a 26-yard TD and followed that up with a successful 2-point conversion on a completion to Carlson to make the score 17 - 14 Cardinals. In the fourth quarter, the Cards recovered a key & somewhat controversal) fumble to short-circuit what looked to be a long KC touchdown drive and had the opportunity to make it more than a one-field goal contest with a Catanzaro chip shot only to have the rookie hit the right upright. But the combination of relentless running attack (without the services of Andre Ellington) and a gritty defense drained the remaining time (and any chance of KC winning) from the clock to enable the Cards to somehow emerge victorious from a game they very easily could have lost. (We'll take it).

1st Quarter
  • Ginn was pushed out of bounds at the Arizona 38 on the KO. Cards ran Stepfan Taylor five times during a drive that fizzled at the KC 26. Catanzaro's FG was good from 44. Cards 3 - KC 0..

  • Davis returned the KO to the KC 22. On the fourth play of the series, Charles scampered for 63 yards and a TD. (Way to go defense !!). KC 7 - Cards 3.

  • TB on the KO. Roughing the passer penalty helped extend the Cardinal drive. Lots of running plays. A delay of game call helped squash the Cardinal drive. Butler punted 39 yards where it wqs downed at the KC 5. On the 5th play of the Chiefs' possession, a fumble recovery by Rashad Johnson was reversed. but there was a holding penalty on the play. The 9-play drive ended with Colquitt's punt for a touchback. Cards then mounted an 8:07 drive which crossed over into the next quarter.

1st Quarter Score: Chiefs 7 - Cards 3.

2nd Quarter
  • A 20-yard completion yo Housler put the ball on the KC 42. Stanton mixed short passes with runs by Kerwynn Williams and Grice but after a questionable play call on 2nd & goal at the KC 5, took a sack (& fortunately recovered a fumble) but had to settle for a 33 yard Catanzaro field goal. (Note: the questionable play call involved Stanton passing backward to Grice who would presumably throw it to a Cardinal receiver near or in the end zone - cool if we were, maybe at midfield/not so cool when your at the KC 5). Chiefs 7 - Cards 6.

  • KC returned the KO to its own 34. On the 8th play of an 11 play drive, the Cards let the Chiefs off the hook on a 3rd & 20 at the Cardinal 35 when Smith hit Bowe for 22 yards/ On play later, Smith hit Charles on a pass and run for an 18-yard TD. Chiefs 14 - Cards 6.

  • 1:06 left till halftime. Ginn returned the KO to the Cardinal 18. Stanton brought the Cards to the KC 18 where, on 4th & 4 with 0:11 on the clock. Catanzaro hit the right upright on a 36-yard FG attempt. Nine plays/all for naught. One knee; half is over.

First Half Score: Chiefs 14 - Cards 6.

3rd Quarter
  • Chiefs received. KO returned to the KC 29. The Chiefs moved to the Cardinal 39 on 9 plays but their attempt to convert a 4th & 4 at the Cardinal 39 failed when Smith's pass for Avant was incomplete. Cards ball. Stanton hit Floyd deep right for on the second play from scrimmage for 45-yards, but the drive stalled at the Chiefs' 21 and we hadto settle for a 39-yard Catanzaro FG. - Chiefs 14 - Cards 9.

  • KO was returned to the KC 20.Smith hit Avant for +41 yards (vs. Peterson) but on the 9th play of the drive (one play after a 19-tard pass to Fasano was nullified by an offensive pass interference penalty). Smith's pass for A Wilson was picked off by Okafor and returned 26 yards to the KC 42. After 9 and 18 yard runs by Kerwynn Williams, a minus-8 yard sack of Stanton moved us back to the KC 26.Two plays later, Stanton hit Jaron Brown for 26 yards and a TD. Two-point conversion try succeed via a pass from Stanton to Carlson. Cards 17 - Chiefs 14.

  • KO returned to the KC 15. KC held to 3 & out. Colquitt's 53-yard punt was returned by Ginn for no gain. IN part due to a false start penalty, the Cards wound up 4th & 3 at their own 36 as the quarter ended.

Third Quarter Score: Cards 17 - Chiefs 14.

4th Quarter
  • Butler's punt was returned to the KC 16. They managed to move the ball to their own 31 before punting. A holding penalty and a 2-yard sack of Smith by Rucker helped end the drive. Ginn returned the punt to the Cardinal 23. Cards went 3 & out. Butler's punt was returned to the Chief 27 but pushed back to the 15 due to a holding penalty on the Chiefs. On the first play from scrimmage, Smith hit Wilson for +22 yards. Cromartie hurt on the play.

  • A minus-13 yard sack of Smith by Okafor set up a KC punt from their own 25. Fair caught by Ginn at the Cardinal 27. First play: 5-yard run by Williams followed by a thrown away pass by Stanton and an incomplete pass intended for John Brown. Cards punted from their own 32. Punt returned to the KC 24 Time Left: 6:51. On the first play of the KC possession, Smith hit Kelce for +29 yards. KC ball on the Cardinal 47. Smith hit Thomas for +6 (Shaughnessy inured). Smith hit Kelce again short-right but Kelce ran it for +19 yards, but a loose-ball recovery by KC call was reversed by the officials and ruled a fumble recovery by Bethel at the Cardinal 16 with 5:23 left to play.

  • First play from scrimmage: Williams off LT for no gain followed by Williams up the middle for +16. and Williams up the middle for +6. (KC took its second time out). Then it was williams up the middle for +3. On 3rd & 2 at the Cardinal 40, Stanton hit Hughes on a short-right pattern for a 36-yard gain. Then (after KC used its final time out), back to Williams or +3 and Williams again for no gain. Two minute warning - 3rd & 7 with the ball on the KC 21. Williams took it up the middle for 5 more yards. 3rd & 2 at the KC 16. 1:14 left. Cards take final time out. Catanzaro choked. Ball hit the left upright.

  • Smith hit Charles for +1. Smith hit Avant for +4. Smith hit Avant for +6. Smith for Charles incomplete. False start flag on Fisher. 0:19 left. Incomplete for Wilson short-left. Ball on KC 31. Another incompletion to Wilson. 3rd & 15 at the the KC 31. Time left" 0:16. Smith incomplete to Wilson. 4th & 15 at the KC 31 with 0:11 on the clock - Smith incomplete short middle for Wilson. Stanton takes a knee. Cards (narrowly) take a game.

Final Score: Cards 17 - Chiefs 14.

Game Stats.

  • Passing Efficiency: Stanton was only 15 for 30 for 239 yards and a TD. (Most important - he threw for no interceptions).

  • Run Game: Kerwynn Williams (filling in for an injured Andre Ellington) gained 100 yards on 19 carries

  • Receiving: Floyd and Fitz each caught 4 passes. Jaron Brown was next with two catches but his 26-yard TD grab was the game's difference-maker.
  • Sacks: Cards sacked Smith 5 times (Old Man Rucker had 2. Okafor, Campbell and Peterson had one apiece).

  • Cardinal Run/Pass Ratio: 50-50. (Runs: 33/Pass: 32).

  • Defense: Our stats aren't sexy (Chiefs gained 126 yards on the ground and 264 net passing yards).

  • Leading Cardinal Tacklers: Peterson led the team in tackles with 8. Campbell was next with 6 followed by Powers, Jeffereson and Foote with 5 apiece.

  • Field Goals: Catranzaro was only 50-50 (his two misses not especially lengthy tries). His 36-yard miss late in the 4th quarter denied us the opportunity to force the Chiefs to score a TD to beat us.

  • Turnover Ratio: +1. Cards had no interception and one crucial fumble recovery. Chiefs had no fumble recoveries or interceptions.

  • Penalties: Chiefs were penalized 9 times/Cards 6.

  • 3rd Down Efficiency: Cards converted 6 of 15 (40%). Chiefs converted 6 or 14 (42%).

  • Time of Possession: Pretty darned evenzz: Us - 30:01/ Them - 29:59.

Bright Spots

  • Stanton threw no picks

  • Kerwynn (Who?) Williams gained 100 yards rushing.

  • Jaron Brown continues to come through in the clutch.

  • Nice to see Fitz on the field.

  • Our TE's (Housler who creates mismatches due to his speed) and (Old Reliable) Carlson came thru with clutch catches.

  • Cardinal pass blockers held KC to 2 sacks (both by Houston).

  • Okafor (an interception and a sack) is evolving nicely into a valuable playmaker on a consistent basis.

  • Justin Bethel stepped in for Cromartie and played like a seasoned veteran. (Not too shabby on special teams either).

  • Time after time in the fourth quarter, our offense would surrender the ball on downs to set us up to be mugged by the Kansas City offense. But time after time, our defense held off Alex Smith, Jamaal Charles and the KC offense. In the end, it was instrumental in our winning the game.

The Dark Side

  • A lot of injuries (Cro, Shaughnessy and - although he returned to action - John Brown to name three).
  • Catanzaro missed two chip shots - that kind of inconsistency, if it continues, will eventually cost us a game.

  • We only scored 17 points.

  • Once again, when faces with the other team's strength (in this case Jamaal Charles) we let that strength gash us.

  • We had problems covering TE's.

  • Sometimes Ted Ginn Jr doubles back and loses yardage returning punts.

    Are we risking further injury by playing Fitz?

Last Word:
We needed this one with three division matchups ahead of us (including a Ram team that recently keeps winning by scores like 24 to 0). This win takes us to 10 & 3. We'll probably need to win one of our remaining three games (vs. StL, Seattle and SF) in order to reach 11 wins and have a lock on a playoff spot. It can't hurt that, this week, Seattle kept pace with us, but SF was upset by Seattle and may fall by the wayside. While part of the reason for our lack of points is likely to due to more conservative play-calling by BA, I think we'll need greater offensive output if we're to go very far in the playoffs (if we, indeed, make the playoffs).

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