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Cards were coming off a 3-game winning streak (Atl, Cincy and Giants). Saints surprised the world by re-activating QB Drew Brees (thumb injury) earlier than expected.
Saints Pull Away in 2H to Dismantle Cards 31 - 9
The Bottom Line:
Cards matched the Saints yard for yard until early in the second half when Kliff Kingsbury decided he needed to shake things up by "going for it" near midfield on a 4th & short. Cards failed to pick up the first down and you could feel the enthusiasm leave the Cardinal sideline like the gas in a hot-air balloon.
Cardinal sideline became "zombie-like" with a deap-panned Kingsbury staring at his game-plan clipboard and the players wandering about without much purpose. No fight,No grit. No comeback spirit - just a great big "MEH." Game over. Cards couldn't (or didn't want to) stop anybody. The New Oleans lead became wide and wider and wider.
Bouncing back from adversity is part of "learning how to win." Cards and their coaching staff haven't figured that out yet. Cardinals' fragile egos were trod upon and they couldn't respond. That's gotta change.
FG - AZ - A 47-yd flea-flicker to Kirk from Murray set up a 31 yd Gonzalez FG - Cards 3 - Saints 0
1st Quarter Score: Cards 3 - Saints 0
FG - NO - Lutz 26 yds - Cards 3 -Saints 3
TD - NO - Completiond of 28 yds and 16 yds to M Thomas help set up an 8-yd TD run by L Murray. - Saints 10 - Cards 3
FG - AZ - Gonzalez 31 yd attempt is good. - Saints 10 - Cards 6
NO- Completions to Arnold (19 yds), Ginn (14 yds) and Thomas (12 and 11 yds) were undermined by a NO penalty which denied them another score. Saints 10 - Cards 6
Halftme Score: Saints 10 - Cards 6
INT- A Peterson interception (for 0 yds) with 9:05 left Kept the score 10- 6 Saints. Then K Murray took a sack for minus-7 yds but a 6-yd pass to Kirk made it 3rd & 1 at the 7:01 mark. Murray's pass to C Edmonds was incomplete, but - on 4th & 1 with 7:36 left in the quarter but only 4 points behind - - Kingsbury elected to "go for it." Edmonds "ran to darkeness." Saints ball at the Card 30. Turning point of the game.
TD - NO - 2 minutes later, Brees hit L Murray for a 15-yd TD - Saints 17 - Cards 6
FG - Gonzalez - 50 yds- Saints 17 - Cards 9
- Third Quarter Score: Saints 17 - Cards 9
TD - NO -Brees to T Hill 5 yds - Saints 24 - Cards 9
TD - Brees to M Thomas for 9 yds Saints 31 - Cards 19
Final Score: Saints 31 - Cards 9
Notable Game Stats.
- First Downs - New Orleans 28 Cards 10
- Passing: Murray 19 for 33...0 TDs...0 Int...220 yds...QBR: 62.2
................Brees 34 for 43, 373 yds, 3 Tds and 1 Int
Total Net Yards: Cards 237- Saints 510
Sacked: Cards 4 for 23 -Saints 0 for 0 yds
Rushing: Edmonds 7 for 8 yds...Murray 2 for 13 yds
................L Murray - 21 carries for 102 yds and a TD
Receiving: Kirk 8 for 79...Clay 3 for 88
................:...Thomas - 11 catches for 112 yds....L Murray - 9 catches for 55 yds
Interceptions - Cards - 1, Saints - none
Penalties - Cards 5 - Saints 2
Time of Possession: Cards 22:01- Saints 37:59
Missed FG's: Gonzalez 0 - Lutz 1 (fr 47)
The "Bright Side"
Were within 8 points of NO at end of 3Q.
No fumbles lost
The Dark Side
- Kingsbury's 4th down try didn't work, and, for the rest of the game, the Cards folded like a cheap tent.
Edmond's and D Johnson's injruies may force us to rely on two recent signees.
Cards lost 2/3 of the one on one battles.
Cards are still figuring out "who they are" but as for now, it's a matter of "2 steps fwd and one-step back." As a unit, the Cards still have to shake off adversity and" learn how to win."
Too many 3rd (& one 4th down( plays end up 2 or 3 yds short of the 1st down marker. Cards - on both sides of the ball - have to become 3rd-down conversion "experts." As of now, the Cards are losing too many one on one battles.
As of now, I see the Cardinals as a .500 team capable of (1) backing into a playoff spot or (2) fading away into W & L obscurity. What we should insist on is that the team put its collective heads down and improve at least a little bit each week. Didn't happen in NO.