The title says it at all as the Tennessee Titans would need every second to win this game. The Arizona Cardinals offense was not as good but that was because Kurt Warner sat out this game despite practicing all week. This would mean Matt Leinart would be getting his first start since 2007 when he got hurt against the St. Louis Rams. With Leinart getting the start, with virtually no practice time, the defense and run game would need to step up and help win this game. The run game was almost nonexistent and the defense did not play well when they needed to the most.
Matt Leinart was much better than most will give him credit for. He did start this game off pretty slow and some of his passes lacked some zip, but he would start to show some life in the second quarter. Through the first quarter and a half Leinart would complete just three of his nine passes (33.3 completion percentage) for 27 yards. For the rest of the game he would complete 18 of 22 passes (81.8 completion percentage) for 193 yards. Clearly he was rusty in the beginning of the game but after a few passes he helped this team move down the field. He would only help lead the team to one touchdown and one field goal but key drives would be held up because of penalties or dropped passes. Overall, Leinart had a pretty good performance despite having just ten percent of the practice reps during the week.
Tim Hightower also had a pretty decent game even though he did not get many touches. Hightower had 55 rushing yards on 11 carries (5 yards per carry) and the team's lone touchdown on offense. This can be added to one of his good performances he has had over the last four weeks compiling 279 rushing yards on 50 carries (5.6 yards per carry). He has also had 11 catches that went for 60 yards. Hightower has been overlooked this season because of rookie running back Beanie Wells but if you look at him run he is a very good back.
Special teams had another very good week as they continue to do everything right. The biggest spotlight has be put on LaRod Stephens-Howling. He not only returned his first regular season kick return for a touchdown he also helped in pinning the opposition deep in the own territory on punts by Ben Graham. LSH has had a solid season on special team and in my opinion should go to the pro bowl as a special teamer. Graham also continued his great season as the Cards punter by having five of his six punt pin the Titans inside their own 20. He also averaged 48 yards per punt, his longest being a 64 yarder.
Darnell Docket would have seemed to start the season off very slowly, as he had just one sack in his first seven games. This would be misleading as he was getting constant pressure on opposing quarterbacks but was coming up short of the sack. This has changed however as he has had six sacks over his last four games. Three of those six sacks came against the Titans. He was consistently making big plays against them. The Cards will need him to continue to do so the next few weeks with big games against the 49ers and Vikings.
The defense played well enough to win most games they play but this game was different. The offense was missing the key player that has made them among the best in football, Kurt Warner. That meant the defense was going to have to step up and play well. For the most part they did play well, except for when it mattered the most. The defense would allow the Titans with, just around two and a half minutes to go, to drive 99 yards down the field and score the winning touchdown. The biggest problem surrounding the comeback was the fact that they allowed them to convert 3-3 fourth downs. Can't really get mad at them if they allow just one of those to be converted but to allow three conversions on one drive? That is just sloppy and cannot happen, especially when you're trying to get the division locked up.
Beanie Wells had been rolling along the past few weeks looking unstoppable; he looked anything but unstoppable in this game. Beanie had just 20 yards on eight carries (2.5 yards per carry) and to top it off had another fumble on a botched pitch. These games will be expected, especially in a rookie season and is ultimately why he was not in the ugly section.
Overall, the Cards pretty well even though they lost. The only thing they really did wrong in this game was the fact that they could not stop the Titans on any of their fourth down conversions. Hopefully they can rebound against the 10-1 Minnesota Vikings next week. Thoughts?