Mon. Night Football. The Kaepernick - Trump - Flag issue dominated the headlines yesterday. Both teams are 1 & 1. Dallas got waxed by Denver 42 -17 last week. The Cards won a squeaker in Indy 16 - 13. Dallas (like in the old days) was the darling of preseason media. ESPN's preview of tonight's game is mainly about Dallas. Both teams shredded by injury - Card OL and Dallas secondary both decimated.
Cards Fall Short" 28 - 17
The Bottom Line:
Cards came out with their hair afire, scoring a TD on their first possession and apparently tacking on another TD early in the 2Q to build a 14 - 0 lead - except to have that TD nullified due to a holding penalty on Veldheer. No problem, they still had a "can't miss" shot at kicking a 36-yd chipster only to have Dawson shank it right (Oh well, at least you have to give Phil a "C" for consistency)..
Things went downhill after that. Dallas scored a couple of TD's and we scored another to knot the score 14 - 14 going into the final quarter. Entire Card team seemed to run out of gas after three quarters and the Cowboys outscored us 14 - 3 and won the field-position battle in the final quarter, holding off a frenzied final long drive by the Cardinals to come away with the "W"
We could have beat them. We should have beat them. We didn't beat them. (Seemed to me we were out-conditioned and out-coached).
Cards came out hard-charging and scored an early first quarter TD. Meanwhile he defense layed "keep-away" with Dallas: (Time of possession - Cards 13:06 - Dallas 1:54).
Cards had a golden opportunity to put a 14 - 0 hurt on Dallas when Palmer moved the ball to the Cowboy 10-yd line and completed a 10-yd TD pass to Jaron Brown only to have it nullified by a holding penalty on Jared Veldheer. Two plays later, the Cards had a "silver" opportunity to add three more points to its score only to have Phil "Can't Miss" Dawson miss his third FG in as many games - this one from 36-yards.
Cowboys tied game up just before halftime and went ahead 14 - 7 midway in the third quarter only to have the Carson & Fitz Show come charging back to tie the score 14 -14 late in the f3Q.
Cards began to look a bit shopworn going into the fourth quarter. A 37-yd deep TD pass from Prescott to Butler gave Cowboys a 21 - 14 lead. Cards tried to close the gap but had to settle for a FG to make it 21 - 17 Dallas.
There was still 6:35 left on the clock, and the Cards had plenty of time to stop Dallas, score a TD and come out with a 24 - 21 lead; only we couldn't stop Dallas (who loaded up Elliott for runs of +7, +7 and +8 yards on runs - the final one for a TD to make it Dallas 28 - Cards 17.
Palmer still had 4:57 left but we couldn't do anything. But - after the two teams exchanged possessions - we still had 3:05 left on our own 13 and made it to the Dallas 10-yd line and then the 5). (Note - BA could have opted to kick a FG during the drive and go for the onside lick and then a TD, but he decided to go for the TD first instead). Carson had four shots at the end zone, but couldn't punch it over. Final Score: Dallas 28 - Cards 17.
Cards (as usual) received and came out sharp and focused. First play from scrimmage was a 20-yad completion up the seam to Gresham Carson Palmer engineered an 8-play drive capped by a 25-yard TD pass from Palmer to Jaron Brown. Other key plays: 10-yd completion to Niklas. 20-yd catch & run to Ellington. (Only one of the 8 plays targeted a WR). Cards 7 - Dallas 0.
TB on KO. Dallas ball at 9:59. 3 & out. Punt returned to Card 20. 8:05 on clock. Cards ran off 13 plays and reached the Dallas 20 as the quarter ended. (Key plays - Palmer to Fitz for +16; Palmer to Ellington for +17).
1st Quarter Score: Cards 7 - Dallas 0.
Card ball on the Dallas 10. Palmer hit Jaron Brown for a TD - except that it was nullified by a holding call on Veldheer. Cards pushed back to the Dallas 18 where Dawson's 36-yd chip-shot was wide right.
Dallas took over on their own 26 and went 3 & out. Punt downed at the Cardinal 44. 12:34 on clock.. Cards picked up one 1st down but had to punt from the Dallas 41. Punt downed at the Dallas 6. A drive marred by 3 penalities (2 on AZ/one on Dallas) stalled Dallas at the Card 49. Punt was fair caught at the Card 10 with 4:24 till halftime (Note - It is at this point in most games when Carson Palmer turns the ball over). Cards went 3 & out and punted from their 5-yd line. Switzer returned punt to Card 33 with 2:21 on clock
A 13-yd Prescott to N Brown completion with 1:16 on the clock helped set up a 10-yd Prescott scoot up the middle for a Dallas TD. Cards 7 - Dallas 7.
TB on KO. Cards. Three plays later, time ran out.
First Half Score: Cards 7 - Dallas 7.
TB on KO (Dallas has opportunity to set the tone for the rest of the 2H). A 20-yd Prescott to T Williams hookup moved Dallas to their own 47, but the drive stalled. Punt was fair caught at the Card 7-yd line. 12:15 on clock - Cards went 3 & out. Switzer returned punt to the Cardinal 46. 10:29 on clock. They ran Elliott 3-straight times - After the third Elliott run (around right end for 20-yds), Prescott hit Dez Bryant over the middle for a 15-yd TD (Review confirmed that Bryant broke the plane). Dallas 14 - Cards 7
KO returned to Card 22. 8:25 left in quarter. Cards were barely able to kick and claw their way to their own 38 before punting. Fair caught on Dallas 11 with 5:45 left in quarter. Three & out. Punt out of bounds at the Card 46.
On the first play of the possession, Palmer hit Fitz for +37 yds and two plays later, he hit Fitz - short right - for a 15-yd TD. Game all tied up. Dallas 14 - Cards 14
KO returned to Dallas 23 (3:08 till end of quarter) - Completions to T Williams (+17 yds) and Elliott weren't enough to get the Cowboys past their own 46-yd line Punt was downed at the Cardinal 4. They moved to their 13 in two plays to end the quarter.
Third Quarter Score: Dallas 14 - Cards 14
Cards - at their own 13 - couldn't convert the 3rd down and punted. Punt returned by dallas to midfield. On the fifth play of the possession, Prescott hit Butler - deep right - for 37-yds and a TD..Dallas 21 - Cards 14
TB on the KO. (Cards ball with 11:52 on clock). Palmer engineered a 16-play scoring drive resulting in a Dawson (hold yer breath) 37-yd field goal (Key plays: Palmer to Gresham for +16. Palmer to Fitz for +24 yds - review upheld the completion). Dallas 21 - Cards 17.
(IMHO, Cards - especially their defense - was running out of steam). TB on KO. 6:35 left. 18-yds of a 75-yd TD pass to Butler was nullified on review and turned into a a 53-yd completion. Didn't matter; 3 plays later (after Elliott ran for +7 and +7 and a final +8 yds for a Dallas TD. Dallas 28 - Cards 17.
TB on KO. 4:57 left. Cards went 3 & out. (Palmer took a sack for minus-5 yds). Punt returned to Dallas 38. 4:03 left. Golden's minus-8 yd tackle of Elliott in the backfield set up a Dallas punt with 3:05 left to go. Punt returned for no gain. Card ball at their own 13. Palmer needed a TD and a FG to tie). He almost pulled it off. he reached the Dallas 10 in 5 plays (with 1:17 left) - BA could kick the FG and go for the onside kick, but decided to go for the TD and then worry about the FG. On the 3rd play from scrimmage, Palmer was sacked for minus-11.Two plays later, he was sacked again (forminus-7). Each time, Palmer was bailed out by deep catch or a defensive penalty. It wasn't enough. Carson made it down to the Dallas 2-yd line in 9 plays before the Cards ran out of yards and time. Prescott took a knee. Game over.
Final Score: Dallas 28 - Cards 17.
Notable Game Stats.
Passing: Palmer was 29 of 48 for 325 yards, 2 TDs and 0 Interceptions. (Prescott was 13 of 37, 183 yds, 2 TD's and 0 picks).
Rushing: Cards picked up 49 (tough) yards on 21 carries. C Johnson picked up 17 yds on 12 carries. (Dallas picked up 99 yards on the ground - Ellioitt gained 80-yds on 22 carries plus a TD. Prescott gained 16 yds and a TD on 3 carries).
Card rush defense gave up 2.6 yds per rushing play (Card rushers averaged 3.3)
Receiving: Fitz caught 13 passes for 149-yds and a TD. Ellington and Gresham each caught 5 passes. (Most catches by Dallas receivers were 5 apiece by T Williams and Elliott. Butler and Dez Bryant each had a TD).
Turnovers: Even. Each of the two QB's threw one interceptions. Neither team lost a fumble.
Penalties: Cards were penalized 9 times. Dallas 6.
Run/Pass Ratio: Cards: 21/48. (Ind: 26/18)
Kicking: Dawson was 1 for 2. (Dallas didn't need to attempt a FG).
Net Punting Yards: Lee averaged 38.0. (Colt dude averaged (43.9)
Tackles: T Branch led with 11 tackles followed by Mathieu, Dansby and Peters with 4 apiece. ).
Sacks: Palmer was sacked 6 times - Lawrence (3), Collins (2), Crawford (1) . Chandler Jones had the only Cardinal sack.
Interceptions: No picks by either team.
Third Down Efficiency: Cards were 8 of 18 for 44%. (Dallas: 2 of 9 for 22%).
Red Zone Efficiency: Cards were 1 of 4 - 25%. (Dallas: 3 of 3 - 100%).
Time of Possession: Cards 28:49/ Lions 33:09
Good initial start. (roughly 13:30 to 1:30) time of possession edge in first quarter). er
Fitz had a huge game (not just numerically - most of his 13 catches were of the "dirt in your teeth" variety).
Chris Johnson seemed to have shaken off all the rust and may save our bacon as the Cards' new #1 RB.
Chandler Jones (1 sack) was active early.
A few nice things from Reddick
OK, here's the deal -We were well on the way to building a 14 - 0 second quarter lead, but we gave away a TD (7 points) due to penalty and then blew the chip shot (3 pts) early in the 2nd quart and never regained momentum. Meanwhile, Dallas (while not exactly a scoring juggernaut) kept the Cards bottled up inside our 10 for most of the second half.
Pass Pro - Palmer sacked 6 times. Often hurried more than he could handle (often forced to scramble - not a Palmer strong suit - or throw off his back foot).
Run Blocking - We were held to less than 50 yds on the ground, and none of those yards were easy - few if any yards were through holes you could see through.
Run defense - especially in the 4Q.
As a matter of fact, our entire team looked a bit gassed late in the game (i.e. whenever there was a collision - runner to tackler, blocker to tackler, tackler to blocker - their guys would usually win the battle - our guys would be pushed back a couple of yards/their guys would push forward a couple of yards.
And as a matter of two facts - our tackling got sloppier the farther we got into the game.
Bottom Line - Dallas played a more conservative, low-keyed, mistake-free game; then stepped back and let us screw up. Operational word is "untimely" - untimely penalties. The untimely big play.
We were within one nullified touchdown of beating Dallas. Which suggests: On any given Sunday, we can beat these guys.
But as the Football Gods all to often like to tell us - We are capable of winning this and every game we play, but have devils in the team's DNA which - if not excorcized - will come back to haunt us. On Monday night:
Our OL allowed our QB to be sacked 6 times. Our FG kicker betrayed for the third time in as many games. A penalty robbed us of a sure 7-points. Missed tackles and overrunning of gaps made their RB unstoppable in the second half.
On a lighter note - Fitz showed us (& AARP) he can stilI bring it. Carson showed us he can be deadly when protected.
This is who we are - capable of scoring a mess of points but equally as capable of losing our poise and shooting ourselves in the foot. Right now the Cardinals look like an unpredictable .500 football team. (Of course, we can get a few pieces of the puzzle back from injury and correct a few ingrained vulnerabilities - not easy but at least possible). Or not.