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Early Sun. game in Houston. Last week, the Texans got buried by Rams 33 - 7. Cards looked meh in their loss to division rival Seattle. Houston became unglued in the second half vs. LA andare now 3 & 6. Cards are 4 & 5. Neither team figured to be feeling pretty good about itself. Cards were without starting QB Carson Palmer and #2 backup Drew Stanton. Next man up is Blaine Gabbert (considered long on potential/not-so-long on production).
Cards Bushwacked in Houston
Answers to Unasked Questions:
Mixed reviews on Gabbert. At times he looked good enough to win with, but penalties, funky play calls and dropped passes would put him in holes that top pro QB's dig their way out of...but Gabbert didn't.
We don't know how much of Gabbert's issues are due to rust and how much lies in his DNA.
My theory - When your OL goes south, bad things happen far away from the more visible "cause & affect" parts of the game. Most notable example: Dropped Passes - When the OL didn't give Gabbert enough time, he had to throw before his receivers were able to achieve enough separation. Result: dropped passes in tight coverage.
More impact from poor OL play - Adrian Peterson spent most of the day being eaten up in his own backfield - almost before the handoff.
Patrick Peterson got flat-out beat by their top WR (Hopkins). Memo to PP21 - When your aura of invincibility is penetrated, your opponents will stop handing you gimmes.
There comes a time when we can no longer find a place to hide Bethel.
One play after Peterson failed to convert that killer 4th & 1 - Donte Foreman circled right end (in and out of a cluster of "cardboard cutout" Cardinal defenders) for a game-icing TD. This told me everything I needed to know about the character of this Cardinal team and its prospects for the rest of the season.
When a losing team plays the way we're playing, most diehard fans look for even a faint flicker of hope - a pheenom who represents a bright future...a dominating aspect of play...salvation via the 2018 Draft. Sorry to say it, but those flickers are few and far between and Cardinal ownership, management and coaching staff have their work cut out.
Cards couldn't hang onto a 14 - 10 halftime lead with Houston adding 14 unanswered 4th quarter points to hang onto 31 - 21
Houston deferred. TB on KO. First five Cardinal plays gained 6, 9, 13, 7 and 7 yards before Gabbert was sacked for minus-8 setting up a Lee punt. After much legal discussion, punt was ruled downed at the Houston 1. Texans could get no farther than their own 15 and punted. Faur catch: Card 42. Crackback penalty on Fitz derailed Card drive. Punt downed at Houston 11. Texans put together an 12 play drive that extended nto the follwing quarter.
1st Quarter Score: Seattle 0 - Cards 0.
- Ball on Card 5. On the second play of the quarter, Savage hit L Miller for a 7-yd TD..Houston 7 - Cards 0.
- (Illegal formation penalty enforced 5 yds between downs). Cards ball on their own 16. They moved to the Houston 39, but an aborted snap forced a punt. Holding call on Drescher moved ball from Houton 9 to their 19. On the 2nd play from scrimmage, Savage was sacked by B Baker and gave up the ball at the Houston 17. Two plays later, Gabbert hit Fitz for a 20-yd TD. Houston 7 - Cards 7.
- KO returned to Hou 20. Three & out. Punt fair caught at Card 40. Cards were held to 3 & out. Punt retrurned to Hou 16. Four plays later, Savage's pass for Anderson was intercepted by P Peterson and returned to the Houston 15. Two plays later, Gabbert hot Seals-Jones for an 11-yd TD. Cards 14 - Houston 7.
- 1:53 left. TB on KO. An illegal contact penalty on P Peterson helped sustain a Houston 7-play drive ending in a 34-yd FG with 0:09 on clock. ...Cards 14 - Houston 10.
First Half Score: Cards 14 - Houston 10.
Hou received. KO returned to Hou 26. 6 plays later, Hopkins beat Bethea on a 34 yd completion and then out-battled P Peterson on a Savage 28-yd TD pass. Houston 17 - Cards 14.
KO returned to Card 27. 3 & out. Punt (net holding call) put ball on Hou 3. Three & out. Punt (net Hou penalty) returned to Card 49. (Chop block penalty on A Peterson nullified a 24-yd completion to Niklas), but 4 plays later, Gabbert hit Seals-Jones for a 28-yd TD. Cards 21 - Houston 17.
TB on KO. Houston made it to the Card 35 on gains of +7, +9, +5, +4. +10 and +8 to end the quarter.
Third Quarter Score: Cards 21 - Houston 17.
- A 22-yd completion to Anderson (over T Williams) set up a 3-yd TD run by FOremean. Houston 24 - Cards 21.
- TB on the KO. Cards forced to punt from their own 38. Punt (net holding penalty) downed at the Houston 3. Texans forced to punt from their own 25. Punt (net above waist penalty on Bethel) gave Cards the balll at their own 13 with 8:36 left. On a 4th & 1 at the Cardinal 35, Peterson was stoned in the backfield for a one-yd loss. On the 1st play of the Houston possession, Foreman circled RE for a 34-yd TD that took all the remaining steam out of the Big Red. Houston 31 - Cards 21.
TB on KO. Cards moved to their own 37, where Babbert's pass for Golden was picked off by Pleasant. Houston ball on their own 40 with 4:43 left. Three & out. TB on punt. 2:57 left. Five plays later, Gabbert was intercepted (again). That was pretty much "it."
Notable Game Stats.
Passing: Gabbert was 22 of 34 for 257 yards, 3 TD and 2 Int. (Savage was 22 of 32 for 230 yds, 2 TD's and 1 pick).
Rushing: Peterson gained 26 yds on 14 carries. (Houston runners gained 134 yds on 34 carries).
Card rush defense gave up 3.9yds per rushing play (Card rushers averaged 2.7)
Receiving: Fitz led the Cards with 9 catches. Seals-Jones and Jo Brown had 3. As last week - too many drops
Turnovers: Even. Cards gave up 2 interceptions (to Houston's 1). Cards recovered one fumble (to Houston's 0).
Penalties: Cards were penalized 10 times. Houston 6
- Run/Pass Ratio: Cards: 18/34. (Houston 34/32)
Field Goals: Cards 0 for 0 Houston1 for 1
Net Punting Yards: Lee averaged 45.0. Lechler averaged (42.3)
Tackles: Bucannon 13, Baker, 12, Dansby 9, Mathieu 7.
Sacks: 1. (Baker). Gabbert was sacked twice.
Interceptions: Peterson had one. Gabbert gave up 2.
Third Down Efficiency: Cards were 3 of 10 (30%. Houston: 8 of 15 for 53%).
Red Zone Efficiency: Cards were 2 of 2 - 100%. (Houston: 2 of 3 - 66%).
Time of Possession: Cards 26:14/ Sea: 33:46
Gabbert would have looked better than OK if it weren't for his OL.
Seals-Jones looks like a legit receiving threat.
Fitz had 9 catches
B Baker had a pretty good debut as a starter.
The Dark Side
Foreman's 4Q TD - Came on the first Houston play after A Peterson failed to convert a 4th down. It looked like 11 Cardinal defenders standing around as Foreman breezed around RE for a 34-yd score that broke our backs. If you want to know where the Cardinals "are" right now as a team, that one play speaks volumes.
The OL - Perfect example of the "domino effect" created by awful play - Your QB gets hurried...your RB can't find any holes...your defense stays on the field too long...your receivers don't have time to achieve separation...tight coverage results in several drops of catchable passes...penalties disrupt your rhythm,
PP21 is Mortal - Got beaten by Hopkins in two one-on-one situations. Makes me nervous that this will encourage other NFL teams to test PP21 early and often. (I've long held that some very good players catch a break because their opponents don't even bother trying to outplay them one on one. In this case, the reverse may be true - we can't automatically assume other teams will lay off Patrick).
The Badger - Looked a step slow chasing slot receivers on crossing routes. Tackling was considerably less sure-footed than the Badger we've become used to).
Bethel - Another flag on ST's? Beginning to grow into the familiar definition of a "coach killer."
10 Penalties - (vs. Houston's 6).
Coaching - That 34-yd run by Foreman should tell you all you need to know. Cards hit the US Mails in the 4Q. It reflects on BA as a leader. He looked kind of sad on the sideline, and "sad" won't cut it.
Management - Memo to SK: How goes the OL, there goes the Cardinals. How to fix it: Short cuts won't work (injuries too frequent). Only solution is to "overdraft" and "over-buy") at the position so that we wind up with 10 to 12 linemen who can open holes and protect the passes. Anything less will doom us to perennial mediocrity.
It's hard to stay fired up, but there are always young players to pull for...the up-coming draft to follow...& a couple of upsets to root for.
Just a win would be kind of nice.