I'll keep this one as short as I can - the Cardinals had plenty of chances to win this game. Their 3rd down defense may be the best in the league, but between this week and last week their fourth down defense(4-4 today) is flat-out horrible.
The Cardinals started off the day stale on the offensive side of the ball, only scoring 3 points in the first half. In the third quarter, Matt Leinart, a late replacement for blurry-visioned Kurt Warner, started to open up, completing more passes that resulted in first downs. After the 85 yard touchdown run by Chris Johnson (above) - which we all knew was going to happen sooner or later - LaRod Stephens Howling returned the following kick off to keep the Cardinals within three. The Cardinals best offensive drive resulted in a touchdown run to give the Cardinals the lead 17-14. The Cardinals offense however, couldn't milk enough of the clock and couldn't keep the ball away. The Titans went 99 yards on the final drive of the game, and on 4th and goal, Vince Young threw the game-winning touchdown to Kenny Britt as time expired.
- After getting warmed up, Matt Leinart finally started looking comfortable in the pocket. Leinart also didn't turn the ball over and was only sacked one time. That's really all I can say about him for today as he didn't do a lot the entire game. He was average at best today but for now it gets him on the positive list.
- LaRod Stephens-Howling had the best day of his career today. After an 85 yard touchdown run by Chris Johnson, a deflated Arizona Cardinals team was pumped after LSH returned the ensuing kick-off 98 yards to bring the Cardinals within three. He also had a big special teams tackle, and was great on punt coverage by downing a couple punts at the 1 yard line.
- Darnell Dockett had a monster game as well, recording 3 sacks (although I think he had that last one) and limiting Vince Young's running lanes. Nine-O played his best game and now leads the Cardinals with 7 sacks on the year.
- Ben Graham had another great game all around and deserves to go to the pro bowl. We'll touch up on that later in the week.
- As crazy as it sounds, Matt Leinart shows up on the negatives list as well because the offense went nowhere the whole game with the exception of one drive. Before anyone accuses me of being a sore loser, the Titans deserved this win, and out-played the Cardinals. However, if Kurt Warner had played this game, the score would not have been so close and the Cardinals would have easily won the game. I don't want to hear that Leinart "deserves an apology", or he can "side-step" better then Warner, when he could only lead the Cardinals to 10 offensive points on a team featuring Larry Fitzgerald, Anquan Boldin, Steve Breaston, Tim Hightower, and Beanie Wells. This game showed promise and I want Leinart to be the future, but he's clearly not as good as Warner, and I for one hope that Warner is ready to go next week.
- The running game was okay, but 75 yards is not getting it done,enough said.
- The fact that the defense couldn't stop the Titans 4 times on fourth down is pathetic. Young threw the same pass to the flats I don't know how many times. Bill Davis showed signs of good ole Clancy Pendergast on the last drive of the game.
- The holding call on Reggie Wells on the Cardinals last offensive drive was brutal at that time in the game, and I blame him and the defense for this loss. The Cardinals were working the clock and Hightower had just run the ball 7 yards. The Cardinals play calling after that was questionable, as they ran once and threw two screen passes that didn't do much. They were forced to punt away and we know what happened next.
- The 49ers won today making the next two games extremely important for both teams.
I'll repeat myself again in saying the Titans out-played the Cardinals and deserve recognition for the win. The only argument I'm making is that Kurt Warner would have put a lot more points on the board then Leinart. The defense held up in the first half but crumbled in the second. I'm not sure what to think of them as they've been torched against the pass and the run the last few games. The Cardinals need to play their best football next Sunday night against the Vikings.