CARDS LOSE TO SEATTLE 22 - 10
The NFC West playoff race has
been declared "wide open" by the pundits. The Cards and the Seahawks are
tied for first at 3 & 2. The Rams are 3 & 3. The Niners are only 1 & 5 but
have the benefit of an easy upcoming schedule. Midway through the early
games, the Niners are ahead of Carolina . The Rams are beating the Buccos.
Seattle is feeling pretty good about themselves - over .500 with an
energetic high-profile coach in Pete Carroll, a healthy Matt Hasselbeck, a
rejuvinated Mike Williams and the latest of a gazillion personnel moves
which landed them RB Marshawn Lynch.
The Cards - coming off an upset win over the Super Bowl champion Saints
followed by a Bye Week - are hard to figure out. This will be their second
game led by undrafted rookie QB Matt Hall (whom I consider a system-QB whose
claim to fame thus far is that (a) he's gritty, (b) kept the mistakes to a
level that enabled the Cards to eke out a win 2 Sunday's ago, (c) is
considered smart enough to learn and grow from series to series, quarter to
quarter and game to game but (d) is still somewhat untested and, therefore,
an unknown entity. Their receivers (even with the extra Bye week off) are
still banged up, with Breaston not yet 100% and Doucet perhaps not even
ready to suit up. The Cardinal defense can be very very good (like they were
vs. New Orleans) or putrid (like they were in 40-burger losses to Atlanta
and San Diego.
This figures to be a close one. The loud crowd in Seattle could be the
determining factor - especially considering the youthfulness of our two
bookend offensive tackles - Brandon Keith and Levi Brown.
The Bottom Line:
Butterfingered Cardinals lost a game sloppily played by both sides 22 - 10.
The game was marked by turnovers & penalties by the Seahawks and Cardinals
and amateurish quarterbacking, sloppy tackling and questionable
coverage schemes on the part of the Big Red. The outcome of the game leaves
Seattle atop the NFC West at 4 & 2 and the Cards an undeserved 2nd-place
spot at 3 & 3. The Cardinal defense made more than a few plays, but when
turnovers continually put them back on the field - usually inside the other
side's 40 - it gave Hasselbeck extra opportunities to solve Cardinal
coverages (for example: matching Mike Williams one-on-one in single
man-coverage. How'd that work for us?) and,of course, wore our defense down.
Looking forward, the Cardinals look like a pretty
talented team; but without a QB. Unless we get at least close-to-average
play from their quarterbacks, we can forget about the playoffs.
Seattle received the kickoff and
started from their 20. They managed to get to the Cardinal 2, where our
defense stiffened and forced them to kick a FG. It was blocked by Greg
Toler who then returned the blocked punt to the Cardinal 27. Except that
DRC was flagged for being offsides. Seattle kicked again - this time it
was good from 20 yards. Drive consumed 14 plays and 7:31 worth of clock.
Seattle 3 - Cardinals 0.
Cards received the ensuing KO and
started from their 20. Hall actually picked up one first down, but 2
plays later was intercepted. (Pass intended for Komar
was way off-target). Seahawks started from their own 48, but on the 3rd
play from scrimmage, Hasselbeck got sacked by Branch. Dockett recovered
the fumble. Cards ball again on the Seattle 45. Three & out followed by
a punt by Graham that went 7 whole yards. (I told you
this game was sloppy). On the next Seattle possession (despite an
encroachment call on Campbell) a minus-8 yard sack by
Daryl Washington blitzing up the middle forced them to punt. (Despite
horrible offensive play, we're stil hanging in there). Cards started
from their 30 and went 3 & out. (Hall is getting zero stuff done).
Seahawks then went 3 & out extending into the next quarter.
First Quarter Score: Seattle 3 - Cardinals 0.
Seattle punted on the first play of the
quarter. Despite starting on the Seattle 39, the Cards went 3 & out.
Seattle took over on their own 20, but an 11-yard sack by Campbell
derailed their drive and they punted to the Cardinal 15. Cards started
to move the ball - 2 runs by THT for +7 and +24; sandwiched around an
incompletion and a13 yard pass to Doucet. Hightower then powered
up the middle for 13 more yards but fumbled away the pigskin.
Seattle ball on their own 28 (3 points denied). Cardinal defense held
them to 3 & out, but Roberts muffed the punt, tried to scoop it up and
had it knocked away for a fumble recovered by Seattle on the Cardinal
2-yard line. Two plays later, Hasselbeck hit Mike Williams (who
out-leaped Ware) for a TD. Seattle 10 - Cardinals 0.
5:46 til halftime. Cards started from
their own 20. Hall managed to pick up a couple of first downs, but got
sacked for a minus-9 loss and the Cards punted from their own 49.
seattle took over on their own 14 with 1:46 left. Cards held them to 3 &
out and got the ball back on their own 42 with 0:42 left. 3 & out
followed by a knee. Halftime. (Still only down by 10 - we're still in
it). Halftime Score: Seattle 10 - Cardinals 0.
Cardinals received. On the 3rd play
from scrimmage, Hall was sacked and fumbled. Seattle
ball on the Cardinal 11. Card defense held and Mare had to kick a
31-yarder. Seattle 13 - Cardinals 0.
Wright muffed the ensuing
kickoff and the Cards (aka "Santa Claus") handed Seattle the
ball on the Cardinal 16. Once again the Cardinal defense held and Mare
(after two penalties moved him back from a 31 yard kick and a 41 yard
kick) was finally good from 51 yards. Seattle 16 - Cardinals 0.
Hall (who apparently was dinged in the
head) was replaced by Anderson who then led the Cardinals on a 70-yard
TD drive. Key play was a 29-yrd completion to Doucet. Final 3 plays of
the drive were runs by Beanie Wells - starting from the Seattle 16 and
capped by a 2-yard TD run. (hard to believe but we're not out of it - at
least we had a Qb in there who could put points on the board.
Seattle 16 - Cardinal 7
Seattle started from their own 16 and
mounted a 14 play (4:54) drive - kept alive by another DRC offsides on a
Mare FG attempt - culminating in a 24-yard Mare FG (How many times did
the Cardinal defense - with their backs against the wall inside their
own 10 - hold Seattle to FG's)? Seattle 19 - Cardinal 7.
LSH returned the kickoff 71 yards to
the Seattle 33 (Golden opportunity for us to get back in the game).
Possession extended into the next quarter, with a 25-yard completion
from Anderson to Roberts moving us to the Seattle 6. 3rd Quarter
Score: Seattle 19 - Cardinal 7.
Anderson started having trouble
throwing anywhere within remote vicinity of his receivers and the Cards
had to settle for a 24-yard Feely FG. Seattle 19 - Cardinal 10.
Seattle used 12 plays to suck 7:20 off
the clock to increase their lead to Seattle 22 - Cardinal 10.
7:28 left to play. The Cardinal offense
under Anderson was kind of hit or miss, starting out on the Cardinal 47
and winding up with the loss of the ball on downs at the Seattle 37.
5:43 to go. 12 plays (& 4:39 later) Seattle punted to the Cardinal ten
with 1:04 to go. Three plays later, the game was over. Final
Score: Seattle 22 - Cardinal 10.
Third Down Efficiency - Seattle was 7 for 21. Cards
were 2 for 24
Seahawks ran 79 offensive plays. Cards only 55.
Cards ran the ball 20 times for 115 yards (& a 5.7
Cards threw 33 times completing 12 and with one
Cards were penalized just 5 times. Seattle was
penalized 10 times (but it evidently didn't matter)
Cards lost 4 fumbles and one interception for 5
turnovers. Seattle lost one fumble and no interception, allowing one
Cards lost Time of Possession battle 37:17 to 28:43
Hall was sacked twice/Cards sacked Hasselbeck 5
times (it helped keep us in the game, but wasn't enough)
The defense played its heart out, only surrendered
one touchdown and forced Seattle to kick 5 field goals despite being
pinned back on their doorstep time after time after time.
Daryl Washington's blitz sack was a thing of beauty.
After his sack of Hasselbeck, we should nickname
Calais Campbell "The Octopus."
Toler and Washington led the Cards in Total Tackles
with 12 and 11 respectively (next were 3 guys with 6).
The Dark Side
The 12 for 33 passing percentage by Hall and
Anderson was brutal. No doubt the absence of Breaston and rustiness of
Doucet didn't help. Neither did the lack of accuracy on the part of our
QB's. Most of the time they looked lost back there.
Equally brutal were the 5 turnovers.
Cardinal tacklers (often weighing from 240 - 325
pounds) had trouble stopping 215 & 194 lb RB's like Lynch and Forsett
from breaking tackle after tackle.
Cardinal pass defenders couldn't stop Seattle WR
Mike Williams 11 for 16, 87 yards and 1 TD. They stuck to a lot of
single man coverage on Williams and he was simply to big and strong to
cover that way. I'm kind of surprised we didn't start doubling him more
often as the game wore on.
Without a QB to serve as our
anchor, I'd have to characterized the Cardinals as resembling a tin full
of jigsaw pieces - beautiful when all the pieces are in their proper
positions so that they look like something. But elsewise nothing more
than "a container full of pretty confetti." (Washington and Toler and
Calais and LSH can make all the plays in the world, but unless we fix
things at QB, all the Cardinals have are a bunch of pretty scrambled
puzzle pieces that won't look like much else until all the pieces fit
together - which, as of right now, they don't.