Greetings folks, just go back from the game and I have to say it was full of excitement. After the bye week, it appears the Cardinals worked certain kinks out of their system. After gaining a 21-0 lead into the half, the Cardinals dropped their lead over the next two quarters, only to overcome a goal line stand in the remaining minutes of the game. Let's flash back to November 10, 2008, when the San Francisco 49ers came to Arizona for a Monday night football contest. After driving down to the one yard line, the 49ers attempt to win the game with with little time left on the clock. With no timeouts remaining, the 49ers are forced to hand off the ball to Michael Robinson. He's stopped and the game ends as the Cardinals are victorious. Fast forward to today, when the Texans had four tries, to punch the ball into the end zone to tie the game. After failing to secure both feet in bounds on 3rd and 1, the Texans hand off the ball to Chris Brown, who is stopped on impact. A booth review and a couple Kurt Warner sneaks later, and the game is over.
Disclaimer: I only watched the game in person, which doesn't give you a lot of angles on each play. I also may have missed a few plays or seen who was who.
The offensive line - The offensive line that we harshly criticized throughout the bye week, seemed to bounce back nicely against a capable Houston pass rush. Featuring Mario Williams and Antonio Smith, the Texans defense only registered one sack. Although there weren't many rushing holes, Kurt Warner was given plenty of time and was able to complete 68.4% of his passes. In the second half, we didn't exactly see the offensive line resort back to their old ways, but may have seen what happens when you can't run the football. The Texans were able to blitz more or drop more defenders in coverage. Let's hope the Cardinals can build off of what they did today.
Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie -In his "sophomore slump", DRC has seen more passes thrown his way and hasn't been able to adjust. Today, he seemed to finally understand that we need him to play good coverage, rather then make a big play. DRC covered Kevin Walter primarily, holding him to 4 catches for 37 yards. He also came up big in the fourth quarter, essentially sealing the game shut with a pick six.
Play Calling -The play calling looked as it did last year, using a variety of plays and not becoming too complex. The Cardinals mixed in more players on offensive, and also used different techniques to get certian players the ball. They focused on getting Larry Fitzgerald the ball early, eventually leading to two touchdowns. We also didn't see too many alarming plays called, as they never got too fancy(except for that terrible wild cat look). Ken Whisenhunt needs to repeat what he did today, because play calling is highly important to an offense that can't produce any yards on the groun.
Crowd noise -I can tell you first hand that if there was ever a doubt about the support from the crowd, it's gone. The crowd was in this game from the beginning, and never stopped screaming. If my voice is gone from me yelling at the top of my lungs, I can't imagine how some fans can do this every week. The stadium was full, and as pyromnc said, the camera was shaking on that goal line stand. The crowd was key in winning today.
Turnovers in the red zone - We saw this murder the Cardinals momentum against the Colts two weeks ago, and were lucky it didn't have the same effect today. After easily marching up the field in the 1st quarter, Anquan Boldincoughed up the football near the goal line. That fumble clearly could have changed the game, as the Cardinals only needed a touchdown to win, when the Texans tied the game late in the fourth quarter. This is something that has to stop before we face a team that can actually take advantage of turnovers.
Lack of a pass rush - Let's count how many sacks the Cardinals had today - oh yeah, none. After hearing a man yell it in my ear a few rows back the whole game, I started feeling the same way - Get a pass rush on Matt Schaub. He butcherd the defense in the second half, as he was able to complete just about every pass that he threw. This is something that we worried about during the off season, and you have to wonder what happened to the defense that started with 8 sacks through two games. This team needs to develop new ways of pressuring the quarterback, or we'll continue to get beat through the air.
No rushing game - The Cardinals became the worst rushing team in the league again on Sunday. The lack of yards on the ground is becoming more of a concern, because Kurt Warner can't do everything on his own. The Cardinals won't be able to win every week if they keep running the way they did today. Even after securing a 21-0 lead, the Cardinals couldn't rely on the rushing attack, and were forced to throw the ball. This may have been the primary reason they couldn't contain their lead.
Dr. Jekyll/Mr Hyde Defense - In the first half, the Cardinals defense held a high-powered Houston Texans offense to virtually no yards, and zero points. The Texans had a streak of consecutive three and outs, and even had a field goal blocked. The second half defense is the story of this game. Being at the game, it was obvious the Cardinals were focused on stopping the deep pass. They were successful, which is great, but they also forgot to defend the short pass. Steve Slaton and Owen Daniels had a field day receiving in the flats, which can be blamed on the lack of pass rush, but also poor game planning. They had nothing to defend it, and nothing to answer it. Luckily, the defense tightened up in the end zone, where as we all know, they won the game.
Overall I can't say I'm unhappy with a win. It was ugly, but our team was able to come out on top. With a big loss by the 49ers, it helps getting a win today, rather then going 1-3. What are your thoughts on the game?