Do not panic. This is Hawkwind. Or rather, this is a glimpse into the mind of Hawkwind (not his doppelganger, ghost-writing cgolden) as the Week 1 San Francisco 49ers at Arizona Cardinals game unfolded. This is a "synopsis" of the game through the Kool-aid (read: Belgian beer) filtered commentary of Hawkwind. This allows for Revenge of the Birds users to relive the game through the subjective view of one individual (the opinions of said individual do not necessarily reflect the position of cgolden, Andrew602, CardsFan08, or Pyromnc, the Arizona Cardinals or even Hawkwind the morning after); this also offers a "diary" of the game for users to comment upon key parts of the game. Read, comment, criticize, cringe, and enjoy!
Pregame Prediction: Cards 34 49ers 31 OT
First Quarter Boldin dresses, Breaston does not, Urban is #3. Long is dressed.
Cards' First Drive: LSH is back to take the kick, Wright takes the kick and nearly goes out of the endzone wondering what to do. Oi. Ball on the 20. Spach is the first target of the '09 season by Warner for an incompletion. Nice to see the "classic" Niner away uniforms again. Hightower strong run for three yards forcing a third down pass to Lance Long. Holding penalty on Niners gives Cards the first down on penalty. Offense is looking "off". Another Warner pass is tipped. Hightower is stretched to far sideline...looking like last year's Hightower. Short pass on third, punt. Hmmm.
Niners' First Drive: Nice penetration by Hayes on the first two carries to drop Gore for a loss. Third down...Cards' Achilles Heel last year...phew...three and out, sweet! Weird to see #49 on field. Antrel Rolle shows some moves on the punt return for some extra yards.
Cards' Second Drive: Nice catch by Fitz on second down but Larry gave a little shove and is called for OPI. Fitz has to watch his hands this year as he was called for that in the preseason too. Penalties...Gandy tries to get a free five yards but is called for a False Start himself. 2 and 25, oi. Draw play. I miss Haley. Warner throws an INT to Patrick Willis...where's my Belgian?
Niners' Second Drive: Wilson is way offsides on second and short. STOP THE STUPID PENALTIES!!! Third and six...come on Cards! McFadden breaks up TD to Josh Morgan. Phew. Wow, Joe Nedney is still in the league? He was the original kicker in '98. Crap, 3-0 Niners
Cards' Third Drive: Imagine that, a penalty on the kick-off return? Larry drops a pass on second down. Hmm. ::more Belgian being poured:: Short pass to Hightower again, time to punt. First echoes of boos in the crowd. No kidding. Boooo! 12 men on the punt return? First down Cards? ::WONK!:: Singletary is challenging the ruling of 12 men on the field. Time for Red Zone...is Delhomme really that bad? Is Warner? Replay works, Niners' ball. Wow, this referee cannot make a call to save his life! Go back to NFL Europa...oh wait.
Niners' Third Drive: Nice play by Walker. Niners on the 39 of Cards. Adrian Wilson get flag for hitting Vernon Davis in the air...Wilson will get fined for that one. Pretty blatant. I'm reminded of the MNF game last year. Campbell and Watson have a great rush on Hill. Almost. Damn. Got Hill that time! Great job Chike! Sack #1. Phew. Nedney is ageless, nails 50-yarder, 6-0 Niners.
Cards' Fourth Drive: LSH stumbles out the the 22 yard line. Iwebema hurt? Warner to Urban on the mid-field bomb. Lots of protection that time, looked like '08 Warner there. From Niner 38...Becht False Starts. Refs screws up the call again. Can we gong out the ref? Hightower catch and run for the first down. Wells is on the field and screws up the play and Warner is sacked. WTF?! End of First Quarter
Cards' Fourth Drive Continues: Nice move by Hightower to gain extra yards on dump off pass as Warner is pressured. Keep seeing Long on the field, no Q? Oh wait, there he is as Warner throws behind him. ::grumble:: Rackers on the field, 44 yards....GOOD! 6-3 Niners
Niners' Fourth Drive: Rackers makes the flying tackle on Rossum. Stop that **** Neil! Damn, run defense is looking stout! Alan Branch gets some love. Really?! Cards fail to stop Hill to Morgan on third down. Dockett is offsides but buries Hill anyways. ::sigh:: Branch contains on Bruce reverse...wow, two Branch plays in ONE game?! Loss of eight. Third and two after good Morgan reception. Campbell breaks up the pass! Nice play Calais! Good pressure on punt, fair catch on the 10 yard line by Rolle.
Cards' Fifth Drive: Wells actually takes the hand-off...for no gain, maybe even a loss. Warner sacked on the five yard line, Levi's guy, no effort from Brown, must have been a timing pattern that was shut down. Third and 16...timeout. Oi. Dump off to Hightower that is well short. Warner has had 11 dropbacks, sacked once, hit three times, and hurried six times. The only clean play? The bomb to Urban. Come on O-line! Graham crushes the punt, 55 yard punt with Adams and Highsmith on coverage. Illegal block in the back to boot.
Niners' Fifth Drive: Dockett blows up Coffee on first down for three yard loss. Blitz on second down, overthrow by Hill. Nice pass to Battle but just short of the first down line due to nice tackle by Rashard Johnson. Michael Spurlock sighting on the punt, remember him?
Cards' Sixth Drive: "Cards offense is in a funk so far"...no ****. Short gain by Hightower and short pass to Boldin. Third and two. Blitz...pass to Long who drops it; hit him right in the hands. ::sigh:: False Start on Highsmith. Eight penalties. Zero for six on third down. LSH makes a great tackle on return. That dude is quick!
Niners' Sixth Drive: Gore gains three yards....seven carries for two yards total. Nice D. 65 total yards of Niners offense so far. Hill dumps to Gore for a first down. 3:11 left after two Hill incompletions. Isaac Bruce catches the deep ball for 51 yards, McFadden gets turned around and looks like a waste of FA money. Gore up the middle for a six yard TD. ****!!! Seven plays, 68 yards, 13-3 Niners. Gore ran over Rolle on that TD. He's a beast.
Cards' Seventh Drive: Touchback on the kick-off. Warner is pressured on the first pass and lobs an INT. Wow. Warner isn't that bad but the blocking sure is. Levi Brown's man again. ****!!! Hate to say it but the Cards are looking "same" and "ol'".
Niners' Seventh Drive: Short run by Gore to 30 yard line. Two-minute Warning Dockett blows up Hill for a deep sack! Dockett #1. Rolle nails Hill on third down, ball flies out and Berry runs it back for a "TD". I think it's an incomplete pass. Wait, booth review. Oh shit! The ball was coming loose as Rolle hit Hill, it is a fumble. TD? Please? Okay, Rolle sack #1 and fumble recovery by Berry on their 40-yard line. No advance of football. Lame.
Cards' Eighth Drive: Ref cannot find the "right" 40-yard line. That's the third gong on this guy, this Ref is HORRIBLE. Nice pick-up of 14 on a pass to Hightower. Hightower again to the 33-yard line. In Rackers' range. 0:41 left in half. SPIT! Warner is sacked again...what the 'ell is wrong with this o-line?! Lutui's guy. Second and 15 to Urban for six. Come on, let's get a TD here! Warner is getting sacked (Levi's guy AGAIN) and gets the ball to Fitz somehow. Warner's right hand is injured...boy he looks old gimping off the field and grimacing. Rackers is out for a FG attempt. Niners fake the snap signals on the attempt and are flagged for 15 yards. First down on the 11 with 11 seconds left. No timeouts. Jump ball to Fitz in corner Fitz cannot reach it. CRAP! Rackers kicks a 29 yard FG. 13-6 Niners, end of First Half
First Half Reflections The defense has looked strong but they're still giving up big yardage on third downs. The offense looks frankly horrible. The Niners' defense has blanketed Fitz and Boldin and has had constant pressure on Warner so it's hard to gauge if the Niners are that good or the Cards are that bad. Halftime adjustments have usually been in the Cards favour under Whisenhunt so here's hoping for a continuation of that. The Cards' potent offense couldn't have been all Haley.
Niners' Eighth Drive: Deep kick by Rackers to start the Second Half. Two Gore runs for only four yards...third down and six. Good pressure from Berry and Wilson and Hill rushes the throw. The defense is representing. Rolle does his best pinball impersonation on a 12 yard return. He's improving.
Cardinals' Nineth Drive: Short dump to Dan Kreider on first down. Willis is there and has been a beast all game. Slow developing Hightower run on second down that doesn't do a thing. Nice tackle on the edge for a two yard loss. Third and nine. Screen pass to Hightower who gets the first down but fumbles the ball. Fitz recovers. Willis destroys Timmy on first down. Wells whiffed on his block. Dre Bly has a great break-up on a pass to Boldin. Warner's pass is a little behind Q. Not good. Third and ten, pass to a wide open Fitz is behind him. What the 'ell?! Graham's punt goes for a touchback. ::sigh:: The Niners are clearly the superior team thus far. It must be the old uniforms.
Niners' Nineth Drive: Gore gets stuffed on first down. Two yard gain. Hayes nails him on second for a loss. Hayes has been a beast himself today. That guys earns every inflated penny of his salary. Quick draw on third down and Dansby cleans up. Quick punt. Does Singletary think his defense can win this game now? Lee has a solid punt and Rolle nearly bobbles the fair caught ball. Seahawks are leading 21-0 against the Rams...not liking the way things are shaping up after one week. Silver lining: first week of season.
Cards' 10th Drive: Finally! Warner hits Fitzgerald in stride for 18 yards on first down. Wells on the field and takes the ball ten yards before he and the line push the pile for another five yards. Frak yeah! Another A-gap run by Beanie for 8 yards. I like! Warner is under pressure and slides for a yard before getting squished. Oi. Niners' secondary has been stout all game. Third and one pass goes to Hightower (nineth catch of the game for 100 yards!) and jukes the first defender before getting tackled inside the Niners' five. Now we are grooving! Kind of like the Beatles Rock Band commericial...anyone have it on the Wii platform? Let's play online sometime. Wells runs on first down and cannot break enough tackles to swing around the left side. Slight loss, ball on the five yard line, 4:23 left in quarter. Warner scrambles looks to Q quickly on the right and scrambles that way and hits Fitzgerald for a TD! YES!!! Larry worked to get open on that play. Thank you Larry. Holy....Niners nearly block the XP on the left guard's side as two penetrate. Regardless, 13-13 with 4:11 left in the Third.
Niners' 10th Drive: Ali Highsmith blows up Rossum on the 17 yard line for the kick off. Shaun Hill looks twittery on first down and sends a ball into the ground at the receiver's feet. Hill goes deep and McFadden is denied an INT by Bruce's saving jab of the ball. Third and ten. Calais comes in and rips at Hill's arm and allows Berry to clean up. Berry #1 sack (should be half to Campbell though, we'll see). Rolle bobbles the kick again and spends a lot of energy going nowhere. Get well soon, Boobs.
Cards' 11th Drive: First pass to Urban who bobbles the ball yet somehow holds on for a first down. Fake reverse to Urban on the next play and Warner hits Boldin over the middle for 13. Warner looks more comfortable. Wells makes a nice run on the left to the 31 yard line of SF. Singletary is calling a hockey-esque timeout and calls the Niners' defense to him on the sideline. Interesting. Gotta say I like Singletary's style as long as he keeps his pants on. Cards get a Delay of Game after a timeout? Nineth penalty for 63 yards. Inexcusible. TIMMY! gets his 10th reception on the right side to regain the penalty yards. Third and four. Niners jumped offside. First down. Thank you #98. Wells is looking sharp as he makes one cut and gains three yards. Edge would have been tackled for no gain last year. Reggie Wells lets Franklin through and hits Beanie for a two yard loss. End of the Third Quarter
Cards' 11th Drive Continued: Warner misses Hightower on third and nine. Rackers is out and nails a 43-yard kick. I hope Matty and Boog are thanking the kicking gods. 16-13 Cardinals
Niners' 11th Drive: Deep kickoff for a touchback. Three three-and-outs in a row, can the Cards make it four? Hill is pressured and throws an incompletion to the right. Bruce just earns six yards and 15,000 yards in his career. What a career, Isaac. Third and four and Hill hits Vernon Davis in the middle for 18 yards. Crap. I've been seeing a lot of Rashad Johnson on third down. DRC has a ball hit him in both hands and he drops it! ****! Second down to Davis in the middle for five yards. Nice catch. Bruce makes a tough catch right at the marker. First down on the Cards' 45. Hill nails Davis and he drops the ball deep on the left side. Phew. Gore in the middle for three yards. Third and seven. ****! Bruce on the left for the first down. Ware seems dinged. Battle jukes McFadden out of his cleats and runs for 10 yards on the right sideline. Okeafor saves a big gain and gets Davis for a loss of a yard on the TE screen. At the Cardinals' 20 yard line, Hill hits Davis (again?!) who falls to the eight yard line. First and goal, Gore crawls for a yard and loses the ball but the Niners recover. Hill throws incomplete in the endzone but Dockett is offsides. The Cards' 10th penalty. Hill throws to Bruce at the goal line and Dansby breaks it up. Nice play, Karlos. Third and goal and Hill calls a timeout. Gore is wide open on the right as DRC gets lost. Touchdown. ::sigh:: 20-16 49ers, it can never be "easy" against the Niners, can it?
Cards' 12th Drive: 7:26 left in the game. LSH looks timid on the return and only gets to the 16 yard line. Fitz catches one over the middle for seven. Cards are going No-huddle. Fitz catches another beneath the zone and is out at the 29 yard line. Fitz drops another over the middle. This is the last game on so hevchv can actually watch it. Urban catches one across the middle and gets killed. Third and five. Warner leads Fitz too far, Cards have to punt. Defense needs to step up. Graham nails the punt and it is thrown back in by Adams and downed at the one by LSH. Sweet, 64 yard punt! Safety time.
Niners' 12h Drive: FB Norris for two on first down. Gore for a yard. Third and seven. Let's do it, Cards! Campbell drives into the backfield and hits Gore at the one yard line! Frakking awesome! Short punt for Lee. Booms it to the Niners' 40 and Rolle muscles his way for 22 yards. SUPER SWEET!
Cards' 13th Drive: From the Niners' 38, Spach False Starts. ****! Urban drops a pass in the middle but Gandy is tagged for a Holding penalty. First and 25. STOP THIS MENTAL CRAP! Hightower for seven. Warner has to buy time and sneaks one to Urban who wrestles it away from Spencer. Third and five. Warner attempts another poor pass to Urban and is lucky it isn't intercepted. ****! Two-minute Warning Fourth and five, Cards are going for it...Warner is nailed as he throws. Incomplete. That's the game.
Niners' 13th Drive: Cards need to get a three and out and use their two timeouts. Gore for four. Timeout. Gore for three. Timeout at 1:40. Cardiac Cards? Can I have Blow-out Winners Cards? Hayes penetrates and gets Gore in the backfield at the 38. Lee is going to milk the clock. Punt at 0:55 and Rolle dances for the next twelve seconds.
Cards' 14th Drive: Starting at the 12 yard line. Hightower for nine yards and he cannot get out. Clocked it. Third and one from the 21 with 23 seconds left. Hits Fitz in the middle to the Niner 46 yard line. Clocked it. Eight seconds left. Miracle time. Justin Smith sacks Warner who fumbles the ball out of bounds. Final, 20-16 49ers.
Post game aftermath: Another close one ends in the Niners' favour. Sadly, that means the December match-up is the Niners' as well considering this has been a win all-lose all series for six of the past seven years. The Niners certainly look much improved and the Cardinals have clearly taken a step back on offense. Who knew an Offensive Coordinator was so meaningful? Chris Wells has shown some ability as has Tim Hightower catching out of the backfield. Warner needs to get his timing down again. The defense has to stop giving up big plays. Stupid penalties must cease (it was like watching the frakking Raiders!). The Cardinals must adjust and get things ready for the Jaguars in Florida next week before the season spirals out of control like the "same ol' Cardinals".