The Arizona Cardinals traveled into San Francisco hoping to claw their way back into the division with a win over the NFC West leading 49ers. From the very beginning of the game, those hopes had all been lost. San Francisco came out of the gates with fire in their bellies, whereas the Cardinals came out looking flat and unmotivated.
After the jump, I'll take a look at five of the negatives that I picked out from the game. Feel free to post your negatives in the comments below.
Well folks, it seems like our QB controversy is officially over (as if there ever was one). John Skelton played terribly yesterday, going 6/19 for 99 yards. Throw in the fact that he tossed three interceptions and you can see why Richard Bartel replaced him in the fourth quarter. The Cardinals were unable to move the ball with Skelton under center and did not register their only seven points of the game until Bartel was the QB.
Skelton's accuracy and timing were askew and his vision was clouded to say the least. His play led the team to numerous three-and-outs and cost the Cardinals any chance at pulling out that game. Look for Kevin Kolb to start healing up real quick after that monstrosity of a performance.
Time Of Possession:
This was the most telling stat of the game. The Cardinals possessed the ball on offense for a grand total of 15 minutes and 44 seconds. They were only able to run 48 plays as opposed to the 87 of the 49ers. According to Mike Sando of ESPN, that is their lowest T.O.P. since, "at least 1981."
Going into this game, we knew running the ball was going to be no easy task and that any chance of winning would rely on the arm of Skelton. Unfortunately, that didn't turn out too well. Five turnovers and a lack of any offensive flow doomed the Cardinals in this game. The 49ers were able to use their power run game with Frank Gore and Kendall Hunter to eat yards and burn clock throughout the afternoon.
Pressuring Alex Smith:
Not a single Arizona Cardinal player was able to register a sack against Alex Smith yesterday. Not one. Smith had all day to deliver throws from the pocket and he was able to find receivers. Michael Crabtree, Vernon Davis and ASU alum Kyle Williams all had tremendous days catching the ball.
I honestly can't begin to point fingers at any specific players, but the pressure just wasn't there. When the opposing quarterback gets that much time to throw against corners that are stuck on an island, he is bound to make plays. Add in that the field was incredibly slippery and you have a recipe for disaster.
Third Down Conversions:
The most prominent reason as to why the Cardinals could not sustain a drive is because they were 1-9 on third down conversions. When teams don't convert first downs and put themselves into third and long situations consistently, nothing ever good comes from it.
Offensive play-calling and poor execution are both responsible for these repeated failures. The running game was not there, so the Cards felt forced to pass on way too many third down attempts. The plays were predictable and they were shut down by the impressive 49ers defense. This will definitely be a focal point in practice next week.
The biggest injury of the game came in the form of sophomore defensive tackle Dan Williams. Williams and linebacker Stewart Bradley were both trying to make a tackle when Bradley's helmet smashed into Williams' left arm. He was then carted off the field. Kent Somers later reported that the injury was a broken arm. This will likely be a season ending injury, leaving David Carter as the only active nose tackle on the roster.
The other injury was a concussion to Brandon Keith. The former seventh round draft pick seems to leave games prematurely almost every week at this point, giving more time to the veteran, Jeremy Bridges. Keith will be looked over this week to see if he can play against the Rams next Sunday.