When I arrived at University of Phoenix Stadium for this game between the Cardinals and the Broncos, I wasn't sure what to expect. But I left the stadium with a smile after Jay Feely single handedly won the game for the Cardinals with his five Field Goals along with his five yard Touchdown run that got the entire stadium fired up. My only dissapointment is that I was unable to see Tim Tebow get on the field even though the Cardinals Defense pretty much shut down Kyle Orton and the Denver passing attack and helped prevent the Cardinals from forcing John Skelton to win the game for them.There was actually a "we want Tebow" chant going on multiple times during the game around the area I was in for the game.
So, lets look at the good and the bad.
Jay Feely, just Jay Feely. He had his best game as a Cardinal making five (career high) of his six Field Goal attempts, and his Touchdown run on the fake Field Goal was a thing of beauty. His only miss was on a 50 yard kick, and he made a 55 yarder shortly before that. He made his first four kicks. He also became the fourth kicker in 40 years to run for a Touchdown, and the first Cardinal kicker to run for a Touchdown. He is also the first player in the NFL to make five Field Goals and have a rushing Touchdown in one game.
Even though John Skelton had a ton of passes dropped, he did some things that make you feel good. He made some nice throws, and his run after avoiding a sack where he trucked a Defensive Back got the crowd on its feet. He played much better than his 15 of 37 for 146 yards (QB rating of 52.3) statline looks, and I'm interested in seeing what he does next week since I assume he will get the start against Carolina.
Tim Hightower overcame a fumble during the second half to run for 148 yards on 18 carries along with two Touchdowns late in the game that sealed the win.
Larry Fitzgerald now holds the Franchise Record (Anquan Boldin had the record with 586) for most catches. It looked like the record was going to be broken on a catch where Larry fumbled early in the first quarter, but Whisenhunt challenged it and the fumble was overturned. Fitz now has 592 catches as a Cardinal, and he had six catches for 72 yards today.
Whisenhunt brought out some trick plays today. There were a couple of reverses/end arounds (whatever you want to call it) along with the fake Field Goal which Feely scored on, and Steve Breaston also threw a deep pass that was almost caught by Larry Fitzgerald but it was knocked away.
Against a solid Broncos offense, the Broncos did not score a Touchdown until there was three and a half minutes left in the game, Kyle Orton threw three Interceptions (to Michael Adams, Kerry Rhodes, and Daryl Washington). The Broncos also lost three fumbles.
Daryl Washington scored a Touchdown on his Interception, although I'm not sure if he fumbled into the endzone where Darnell Dockett recovered the ball, but either way it was a great play by Washington who has had a solid rookie year so far.
Several of the young players like Daryl Washington, Dan Williams, and O'Brien Schofield got time to play with the Defense and they appeared to play well.
Andre Roberts continues to play well after struggling early in the year. He returned five Punts for 72 yards today.
The seven game losing streak has now ended, but the Cardinals are still only 4-9.
As I mentioned earlier, several passes were dropped. Most notably to me was one that Early Doucet dropped when he would have been inside the Denver five or ten yard line.
Beanie Wells apparently had a stomach virus that took him out of the game after he only had six carries for 16 yards. I wasn't sure what happened to him until after the game ended, but it also seemed like he was only in for one play then he was taken out during the times that he did get to run the ball.
The Cardinals got plenty of pressure on Kyle Orton, but they only got one sack which came from Clark Haggans early in the first half.
Although I liked the playcalling for most of the game, I felt like having Skelton throw 37 times in his first start was too much. Even with the lead they had for most of the game, the Cardinals had less rushing attempts (34) than passing attempts (38).
There were two consecutive Fumbled Snaps on one drive by Lyle Sendlein. I believe that Rex Hadnot went in after the second botched snap as well. I also didn't find out until after the game that Sendlein had a big cut on his thumb that caused the bad snaps.
At the end of the game, the Defense allowed the Broncos to move down the field when their offense was almost non-existent for most of the game.
There were still plenty of people in the Denver blue and orange in the stands, and after good plays by the Broncos there was an audible cheer throughout the stadium from their fans.
Even with all of the turnovers the Broncos had, the Cardinals still had to settle for Field Goals on several drives.
There were several bad calls by Referee Jerome Boger and his crew, including (from how it looked in the stands) missed Pass Interference and Facemask/Horsecollar penalties on the Broncos, there were a couple of plays where Pass Interference was called on the Cardinals where it didn't look like the defender did anything wrong, and Coach Whisenhunt had to challenge two plays that were both overturned (one was the Fitz fumble, and one was on a catch by Early Doucet where the Refs said he was out of bounds). Boger and his crew were booed often in the stadium.
Overall, after a seven game losing streak it is nice to get a big win like this, the stadium was pumped up, the fans were excited, and the players finally have a reason to smile again.