What a strange day for the Arizona Cardinals and their fans. Like the topic of this article there was a lot of good and bad. The good is that the Cardinals are going to the playoffs and they are playing a mediocre team (though one on a current hot streak). The bad is that they've lost four of their last six games with the defense not showing up the last two games.
Against the depleted and downtrodden 49ers, the Cardinals had several good and bad things of note:
While ultimately the game didn't end up matter in regards to playoff seeding, losing your last two games with bad defense is not a good omen going into the playoffs against a team that has been running the ball as well as anyone in the NFL. Against the Panthers the Cardinals defense will need to step it up big time.
What happened to our once proud, top-ranked run defense? Last week and this week the Cardinals have given up over 450 rushing yards. Yeah, that's right. Over 200 yards were given up on the ground against the Niners this week with Frank Gore teeing off like he was 25 again. If this issue isn't fixed against the Panthers it's going to be a very long and ugly day.
Giving up big plays:
Just like last week the safeties made another HUGE mistake giving up a 76 yard TD reception to Anquan Boldin. The guy who is running a 4.8 forty beat everyone for a huge TD. Later in the game, the Cardinals gave up a huge run to Colin Kaepernick that put the Niners in FG range. After two seasons of at times epic defense, they have really let down these past two weeks.
Man, it's a theme. Just like last week missed tackles killed us. Missed tackles on Gore, Kaep, and other players extended Niner drives and broke the defense down.
While the much maligned QB did have some good plays, his three INT's are the second big reason why the Cardinals lost. You lose the turnover over battle and generally you lose the game.
Why this kid only touched the ball 17 times amazes me. On those 17 carries he gained 67 yards for 3.9 yards per carry. His YPC would have been higher if a blown assignment hadn't led to him getting tackled in the backfield for an eight-yard loss. His highlight play of the night was on a run to the outside, Niners safety Craig Dahl read the play perfectly and came in like a heat seeking missile only to bounce off Williams as he scrambled for a nice gain. Williams and Ellington could pair to be quite the duo next year.
Eight receptions, 153 yards and two TDs. Floyd's play was the biggest reason the Cardinals were even in the game. He made huge catches and overmatched an injury-riddled secondary.
Cardinals Offensive Line:
While two sacks were given up, only once is credited to the offensive line. Overall the line gave Lindley plenty of time, enough time that they made Lindley relatively good considering his other outings. They did well in the run game and overall were impressive. With Cooper getting back in soon it only looks like things will go up for the Cardinals offensive line.
Despite an ugly ending to the season, the Cardinals are still in the playoffs and can still make noise. There is hope, even if that hope isn't pretty.