GLENDALE, AZ - DECEMBER 11: Runningback Frank Gore #21 of the San Francisco 49ers breaks away to score on a 37 yard rushing touchdown against the Arizona Cardinals during the thrid quarter of the NFL game at the University of Phoenix Stadium on December 11, 2011 in Glendale, Arizona. The Cardinals defeated the 49ers 21-19. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Larry Fitzgerald and the Arizona Cardinals were finally able to exorcise some of their demons on Sunday after defeating the San Francisco 49ers for the first time since 2008. The defense was, by far, the main reason for the victory. Arizona has now won five of their last six games and still hangs on to the slight possibility that they can make the playoffs.
Not everything in their victory was all peaches and cream, however. This game had more than it's fair share of ups and downs. Here are five negatives from the Cardinals' big victory.
First Half Offense:
Yeah, this is a pretty general headline, but it really encompasses what happened. Outside of a 60-yard pass to Early Doucet from John Skelton for a touchdown, the Cardinals were held in check by the San Francisco defense. The time of possession gap was staggering, favoring the 49ers 22 to 8. Luckily for Arizona, they seem to reboot at halftime and come out ready to go for the third quarter week in and week out.
John Skelton had a very good game, especially given the circumstances in which he was forced to play, but he did have three turnovers on Sunday. His two interceptions were what they were, just bad passes. The other turnover came as a result of a scramble in which Skelton tucked the ball and ran. He made the first down that was needed, but was stripped of the ball in the process. Sliding after the marker probably would have prevented that from happening.
Also, Arizona had plenty of chances to cause some turnovers, but were unable to convert a single one. Adrian Wilson dropped a couple of potential INT's, which he acknowledged on Twitter after the game, saying, "Oh yeah I promise I'll work on catching the ball too...."
The Run Game:
The Cardinals were unable to get Beanie Wells going and his inability to push for major yards stymied the offense greatly. He rushed 15 times for a total of 27 yards, an average of 1.8 yards per carry. John Skelton rushed for 25 yards on only six carries. Arizona converted only one first down by rush, leading to a very one-dimensional offense. The 49ers have yet to give up a rushing TD this season and unfortunately, the Cardinals were unable to break that trend.
One statistic that continues to plague the Cardinals is their third-down conversion rate. They converted only 3 of their 14 opportunities, which really prohibited their offense from getting into any sort of rhythm. They had no ground game whatsoever and the defense was forced to take the field far too often. They relied on the big play to win the game for them, which may not be available every week.
Kevin Kolb sustained a blow to the head in the first quarter and was unable to return to the game, leading to John Skelton taking command. Kolb had just returned from a turf toe injury last week against the Cowboys and now may be forced to miss some time with a possible concussion. His status has yet to be determined, but if he does indeed have a concussion, he will have to be cleared by an independent doctor before he can play again.
Right tackle Brandon Keith also sustained a right ankle sprain and was replaced by veteran Jeremy Bridges. Injuries have become a very common occurrence with Keith and his growth as a lineman has undoubtedly been stunted because of them.