The Cardinals play the Seattle Seahawks this week following a very physical match up with the San Francisco 49ers. Two big take aways from last week was the improvement of the offensive line and that their is an offense hidden under those interceptions. There were two big plays that new LT Bradley Sowell messed up, the first being in the endzone and letting a player breeze by him which caused a safety. He shares credit for that safety with Carson Palmer who did hold the ball too long on that play, but in man-to-man contests Sowell had one responsibility and he missed his assignment until the defensive end was already two yards behind him. The other big play he missed was the only other sack allowed to the 49ers impressive defense. Allowing two sacks in one game is not the way you want to start your career, but considering that other than those two growing pains he played a great game and the rest of the line played a great game shows that this team is fielding a serviceable line which should help calm the nerves of trigger happy Carson Palmer.
Making Palmer feel more comfortable in the pocket will only improve his numbers and those of the offense. I stated in the game thread that I was officially not a Palmer fan, and while that was a statement made in the heat of the moment, I will state that until he calms down and realizes that he has average to above average protection he is not going to be able to tap into the potential of what the offense can be. But as shown in the 3rd quarter against a great defense, the Cardinals can put up points when everything is clicking.
How will all of this affect the simulation this week? The updated week 7 roster has been uploaded and Sowell is a 65 overall, probably due to giving up a safety and two sacks last week. I put him back to a 75 with a 65 awareness to try to reflect his growing pains at LT, but represent his skills and technique with 75 in pass and run blocking. We'll see if that helps the offense click this week.
I kept Calais Campbell in at LE due to his positive status so far this week.
The first quarter started with Palmer moving the ball using Housler a lot, unlike real life, and stalling at midfield causing a punt. On the first Seahawks play Karlos Dansby causes a fumble which he recovers at the Seahawks 20 yard line. Using Mendenhall to try and drive the ball closer to the goal line the Cardinals get to the 12 before throwing on 3rd and short which is intercepted at the 5 yard line and returned back to the Cardinals 35 yard line by the Seahawks Thomas. Following a pass to Golden Tate and three rushes by Lynch the Seahawks score.
The second quarter is dominated by both defenses causing punts until the Cardinals defense began getting tired and allows a 10 play drive which ended with another Lynch touchdown. In a two minute drill the Cardinals are able to drive the ball to the Seahawks 30 yard line and have to settle for a field goal.
The third quarter is much like the second, filled with two dominant defenses performances. Neither team can get to the red zone, but with a good defense you don't need scores from your offense as shown by 1st and 10 pass which is intercepted at the 20 yard line by the Seahawks Wagner and returned for a TD.
The Cardinals are finally able to put a drive together in the beginning of the fourth quarter. While Palmer had been targeting Andre Roberts and Mendenhall for the first three quarters he finally remembered that he has All-Pro Larry Fitzgerald who can also catch footballs. One a six play drive Larry catches three passes for more than 12 yards each and takes the third in for a touchdown. The defense really pours it on Russell Wilson with 4:00 minutes left, causing a 6 yard loss on a sack and forces a three and out giving the Cardinals the ball back with 3:45 remaining. Another six play drive which features Michael Floyd making big catches of 21 and 15 yards gets the Cardinals to the five yard line. Using an over the shoulder fade Palmer passes a 5 yard pass to Michael Floyd for a touchdown. Coach Arians calls for a two point conversion attempt, but Palmer is unable to connect with Golden in the endzone with 1:38 remaining in the game.
Russell Wilson uses his clock management skills to milk every second off of the clock with consecutive runs by Marshawn Lynch causing the Cardinals to use their three time outs. The Cardinals get the ball backs with 33 seconds remaining. In desperation the Cardinals try long shots down the field but waiting for the play to develop causes Palmer to be sacked twice. On third down the Cardinals make one catch for 20 yards to Andre Roberts allowing Palmer to run up and spike the ball with three second left. On the final play of the game Hail Mary pass Palmer's throw in dropped by Andre Roberts at the four yard line, where he would have been short of the endzone due to coverage had he caught the ball.
Box Score: 1 || 2 || 3 || 4 || Final
Seattle 7 || 7 || 7 || 0 || 21
Arizona 0 || 3 || 0 || 1 || 16
Team Stats Seahawks Cardinals
Total Offense 237 259
Rushing Yds 117 24
Passing Yds 120 235
First Downs 11 12
Turnovers 1(+1) 2(-1)
3rd Down Conv 5-12(41%) 3-13(23%)
4th Down Conv 0-0(0%) 2-3(66%)
The takeaway, the Cardinals lack of a rushing attack and the four sacks really hurt the Cardinals in this contest. Three of the four sacks were attributed to Sowell and the fourth to Mendenhall. Let's hope the Cardinals get lucky and give Sowell some help on the left side during critical plays after learning that lesson against the 49ers.