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Arizona Cardinals Come Up Short Against the Redskins But Wonder 'What If'

Sunday's loss to the Redskins was a day of missed or blown opportunities for the Arizona Cardinals. Granted it's easy to look back at any number of plays that could have changed the outcome of a one score game, but for the sake of argument, here's the plays that stood out in my mind:

Play 1: 1st Quarter (3:56) - 4th and 1 at WAS 41

This was the Cardinals first drive of the game after watching the Skins drive down and put seven on the board in their first drive. The Cards decide to go for it and Warner pulls off a play action pass hitting Ben Patrick for what would seem to be a 41 yard touchdown. There's a flag though and it's on the Cardinals. A delay of game nullifies the touchdown and pushes the offense back five yards. Facing a fourth-and-six, they decide to punt and don't end up putting points on the board until there's just under three minutes to go in the half and down ten points. Kurt Warner was animated on the sidelines for several minutes. He and Whisenhunt both clearly stated yesterday that they were closely watching the play clock and that there was a second on the clock when the ball was snapped. Both said that they knew they had timeouts and were more than willing to burn one to avoid the penalty.

Play 2: 2nd Quarter (13:16) - 3rd and 6 at ARI 30 Edge8_medium

I didn't think much of this play at the time but after watching some of the game for a second time, I was surprised at how close this was to a huge play. The Redskins have the ball after Edgerrin James' fumble and seem to be playing pretty conservatively considering that they're already in field goal range. They run a short slant route and Campbell throws to Santana Moss. Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie reaches around though to knock the ball away and Adrian Wilson, who's streaking towards the play, actually has the ball bounce off his right hand. It would have been an amazing reaction for him to catch the deflection but if he could have pulled it off, there was nothing between him and paydirt. In the end though the ball fell harmlessly to the ground and the Redskins kicked a field goal to pull out to a ten to nothing lead.

Check out the second half "what ifs" after the jump....

Play 3: 3rd Quarter (10:57) - 2nd and 9 at WAS 19

This was the Cardinals first drive of the second half and they've drove the ball from their own 19 yard line and are currently trailing the Redskins 10-7. The play call was a simple pass pattern where Fitzgerald ran an out route. Warner delivered the pass but Washington safety, LaRon Landry was able to get a hand on the pass right before it got to Fitzgerald. After the game, Fitzgerald acknowledged that he should have attacked the ball but at the time he was focusing too much on making sure he was in the endzone instead of going after the ball. The offense would end up getting a first down on third down but the 1st and goal from the 10 went no where. They'd settle for a field goal and a tie ball game.

Play 4: 4th Quarter (13:16) - 2nd and 8 at ARI 21 Breaston_4_medium

This was the play that ultimately decided the game, in my opinion. The Cardinals have the ball and all of the momentum considering that they had scored on two consecutive possessions and forced the Skins to go three and out on thier last series. Warner saw single coverage on Steve Breaston streaking down the middle of the field and launched a pass about 35 yards down field. The coverage by Leigh Torrence was spot on though and pass bounced off his helmet. The perfect bounce was snagged before it hit the ground by Carlos Rogers and he was able to return it 42 yards to the Arizona 15. There are a thousand ways that the ball could have bounced harmlessly to the ground and the Cardinals would retain possession. The Skins would take possession and score the winning touchdown less than a minute later en route to a 24-17 win. 

The Skins had their missed opportunties as well considering that they had a touchdown called back, but basically what I'm trying to say is that this was a very close game played by two good teams. It was a tight game down the wire and could have gone either way. Thoughts? Agree/Disagree?