Cardinals Defense Not Pulling Weight

After holding the lead late in each contest, the Cardinals defense has collapsed during the last two games.

The Cardinals entered this season knowing it would take time to figure out exactly how to move the ball. That process is ongoing at mid-season, which is a disappointment.

The hope was that a defense filled with veterans -- although they hadn't played together much -- would carry the team through the first half of the season. Instead, that defense has collapsed late in the last two games, both losses.

Two weeks ago, the Cardinals led Tampa Bay, 35-31, in the fourth quarter, but the Bucs drove 74 yards for the game-winning touchdown.

The loss to the Vikings on Sunday was worse. The Cardinals led, 24-10, with four minutes remaining, and the Cardinals yielded 17 points in the fourth quarter and overtime.

The Vikings gained 250 yards of offense after the third quarter.

"We put ourselves in a great position," said outside linebacker Joey Porter. "You're up by 14, you know they are going to pass the ball. You give up 17 points in the fourth quarter and overtime and lose a game like, it's definitely heartbreaking."

The Cardinals' offense isn't equipped to mount late-game comebacks. Quarterback Derek Anderson played his best of the season against the Vikings, but he still misses open receivers in critical moments.

On the first play of overtime, Anderson had Larry Fitzgerald open for what would have been a gain of 20 to 30 yards. He overthrew him.

The Cardinals went nowhere in that possession, and the Vikings responded quickly with a drive for the game-winning field goal.

"It's tough any time you lose a game," coach Ken Whisenhunt said. "But when you're that close, when you have a lead at the end of the game ... it's tough."

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