Well, the Arizona Cardinals did it again. For the third time this season, the Cardiac Cards won a thrilling game in overtime. After Patrick Peterson's punt return set up Arizona with great field position, John Skelton was able to hit Larry Fitzgerald on a deep pass, allowing Jay Feely to kick the game winning 22-yard field goal.
The Cardinals' playoff hopes are still alive, but there are a few things they are going to need to fix before heading into Cincinnati next weekend. Here are five negatives coming out of the Cardinals victory.
Coming Out Lethargic:
Fans may have felt they were going to be in for a long game after watching the Browns take their opening drive in for a touchdown. All it took was seven plays and 3:27 for them to score, while the Cardinals were forced to punt on their first possession. Not until the second quarter did the Cardinals even cross midfield. This team has relied on fourth quarter comebacks all season long, which is never a good sign. The entire playbook becomes much more available to them if they can get ahead early, as opposed to putting themselves in a deficit.
Turning Pressure Into Sacks:
Throughout the entire day, the Cardinals were able to get plenty of pressure on Browns quarterback, Seneca Wallace. He was forced to scramble several times and throw the ball on the run, which often led to incomplete passes. However, the Cardinals were only able to register two sacks on the day, both coming from second year linebacker, O'Brien Schofield. The defensive linemen, in particular, had plenty of opportunities to take Wallace to the ground, but were unable to do so. QB containment was something the Cards obviously did not work on very much, even though they knew they'd be playing a good scrambling quarterback this week.
Bottling Up Peyton Hillis:
Hillis ran like a man looking for a contract extension against the Cardinals. Time after time, he was able to burst through the middle of the line, punching into the secondary for key first downs and even a touchdown. He came out strong in the first half, running 15 times for 69 yards. Luckily, Arizona was able to make some halftime adjustments, holding him to 30 yards on 11 carries in the second half.
Hillis ended his day with a 3.8 yard per carry average, but the damage he did came into play with the play action and ball control. Arizona's defense was forced to commit more players to the run, which became extremely evident in the 76-yard touchdown pass from Seneca Wallace to Greg Little. The front seven need to do a better job of containing the run.
Bombarding With Beanie:
The Browns came into the game with the 31st ranked rush defense in the league, so one would have to assume that the Cardinals would rely heavily on Beanie Wells to move the ball in their offense. Unfortunately, the Cardinals managed to get themselves in a hole early and Wells ended up with only 15 carries in the entire game. The Cardinals were able to exploit Cleveland through the air, but the ground is where they should have been doing the damage.
Cutting It Close:
Not only have the Cardinals had to go to overtime three times this season to obtain victory, but their average margin of victory in their seven wins has been only 4.4 points. With a team like the Browns --who are now 4-10-- the Cardinals should have been able to come out of this game with a win that showed the world that they truly have turned their season around. A win is a win, but a win in greater fashion would help the Cardinals' confidence and their fans' heart health.
What do you think, fans? Which moments in this game had your heart racing? Leave your comments below.