The 3rd preseason game is traditionally where HC's get to evaluate how well their players mesh and play well together. It's also the last game before the big roster cut that gives fans a clearer picture of what the team's final roster and depth chart will look like (even more important for a Cardinal team playing for a new coach, under a new system and with a greater-than-normal change in player-personnel).
Of curse, we have a clue about where the team strengths and weaknesses are - and how well they're cleaning up the challenges and capitalizing on their strengths (the Cards have been consistently strong at taking away the pigskin, but they've been correspondingly inept at tackling in the open field).
But as it turns out, Coach Wilks was very careful not to expose his key players (i.e. Bradford, Fitz, D. Johnson, C Jones etc.) to injury, and they were either played sparingly or not at all.
"Take-away marauders do it again - Cards BBQ 'Pokes 27 - 3."
The Bottom Line:
In a substitute-loaded contest, Cardinal offense was unable to get much going, but once again, its defense and coverage units made a number of key plays that resulted in turnovers to enable the Cards to win a laugher 27 to 3.
From a Cardinal standpoint, it appeared as though the Cardinals used the "live" action to work on stuff that needed perfecting (like tackling, pass routes, etc.
Answering some of the obvious questions we had going into last night's contest:
In brief action Bradford looked deadly-accurate, but his receivers seldom held onto contested passes. Glennon looked a bit smoother than previous preseason outings - He was 8 for 10.
Rosen (bruised thumb) didn't play. Kanoff had showed promise in earlier outings but had a lackluster late-game appearance, going 4 for 10.
David Johnson didn't play. Logan appeared to take on what was previously the Kerwyn Williams role (of quick scatback/passing down RB) and galloped for a pretty nifty long TD run. I noticed that both he and DJ seem to thrive on extending inside runs by moving out of a given lane and into an adjacent open one.
Edmunds gained 55 yds on 11 carries.
Fitz didn't play - None of the other WR's impressed me.
Christian Kirk starting to make his presence known at WR. Some of the other WR's are beginning to step up.
Tackling started out awful again, but improved once the backup job-seekers got to play.
Patrick Peterson's pick six/forced fumble and Budda's interception in the end zone were special.
Dawson played well enough to keep his job, McCrane played well enough to take it away.
I've always felt that take-aways - while somewhat part of a team's DNA - are a result of fate, good karma etc. But this is the third consecutive game where the Cards won it on turnovers. Luck? Well, maybe it's more than that.
The same goes for preseason wins. Sure, the games are "unimportant" and their outcomes less-so, but: when a team wins three straight - whether preseason or regular season; whether footbal or tiddlywinks - it makes you sit up and take notice.
Cardinals at 15:00
TB on KO. Penalty moved ball to Card 30. Three consecutive handoffs to Logan - +5 yrd. +6 yds. +59 yards and a TD. Cards 24 - Cowboys 0.
Cowboys at 13:39
TB on KO. Dallas moved to their own 43 in 4 plays, but Jarwin fumbled a pass from Mike White (forced by Hodges/ recovered by Ford. Card ball at midfield.
Cards at 10:46
Kanoff at QB. False start flag helped Cards go 3 & out. Punt downed at Dallas 7.
Cowboys at 8:45
Penalty helped Dallas go 3 & out. Punt from 10. Returned to Dallas 47.
Cards at 6:04
Same pattern - penalty on first down followed by a 3 & out. Punt out of bounds at Dallas 7.
Cowboys at 4:07
Dallas moved from their 7 to the Cardinal 47 in medium sized chunks of yardage in 7 plays and continued into the final quarter,.
- Third Quarter Score:Cards 24 - Cowboys 0
- On the 4th play of the quarter, Capi sacked M White who fumbled. Capi took a minus-15 penalty for unsporstsmanlike. Cards ball at their own 24.
Cards at 13:04
- Penalty on first down (again) followed by a 3 & out (again). TB on punt.
Cowboys at 11:14
Same deal - Penalty on first down followed by a 3 & out. Logan returned punt to the Card 45.
Cardinals at 9:31
Three & out (but at least no penalty on first down). Lee's punt fair caught at Dallas 11.
Cowboys at 7:44
Dallas moved from their own 11 to their 16 (undermined by a sack by Dora). On the 6th play of the possession, M White's pass for Leonoir was intercepted by Dixon and returned to the Dallas 42.
Cardinals at 5:15
Cards stayed mainly on the ground with runs by Badie and Penny with the exception of a buttonhook pass to Vollert and an incompletion to Sherfield. Cards settled for a 54 yard field goal by McCrane. Cards 27 - Cowboys 0..
Cowboys at 1:51
TB on KO. Capi injured. Cowboys ran off 9 plays - from their own 25 to the Cardinal 27 - capped by a 45-yard Maher FG to escape the shutout. Cards 27 - Cowboys 3.
Cardinals at 0:19
TB on KO followed by a knee. Game over.
Final Score: Cards 27 - Cowboys 3