Kurt Warner & Larry Fitzgerald (Getty)
The Washington Redskins handed the Arizona Cardinals their first loss of the season Sunday, 24-17. Though the game was continually close with tied scores through most of the quarters, Arizona was simply unable to pull together in the final half to overcome Washington's drives. Here is a look at what worked and what didn't for the Cardinals third season game.
Kurt Warner was limited in finding a rhythm on Sunday, so he relied heavily on Edgerrin James and Tim Hightower. Many running plays helped the advance of the ball for the Cardinals upfield, with a total of 116 yards rushing.
Though it wasn’t steady drives that got the ball in the endzone on Sunday, big plays were seen in Larry Fitzgerald’s 62-yard touchdown reception in the third quarter. He earned more than 100 receiving yards for the 15th time in his career.
Another major play in the Cardinals progression was in the second quarter when Jeremy Urban's first NFL pass for 18 yards during a gadget play in which Hightower received 4 yards before the Cardinals goal line, which set up an opportunity to score for Warner as he passed to Anquan Boldin in the endzone.
The defense also had a few key moments in the game. Karlos Dansby earned his first sack of the season at the end of the first quarter, setting up for a punt after two incomplete passes by the Redskins.
What Didn't Work
Unfortunately for the Cardinals what Coach Whisenhunt had said about winning road games in your division was not enough to pull Arizona through.
“It was a disappointing day,” Whisenhunt said. “We made a lot of mistakes today. We had situations where we had a chance to make plays and we didn’t get it done. That’s just football.”
Arizona totaled in six penalties and two turnovers, one interception and one fumble the first turnovers of the season for the Cardinals.
Defensively, Arizona was not well put together against the hog’s offense. Holding down key players like Chris Cooley did not happen, and many gaps where left open in the center for the Redskins to run up 136 yards.
A majority of the mistakes made were occurring in the offense with the two turnovers. After a perfect quarterback rating in Week 2, Warner completed 16 passes on 30 attempts.
The first big penalty was a delay of game call on Warner when Cardinals were on 4th and inches conversion, forcing a punt. Shortly after on the last play of the first quarter a short pass to James led to a fumble and turnover that led to a Redskins 48-yard field goal.
On the six mistakes, the Redskins gained an easy 42 yards.
The Cardinals also ran into many tough field positions this game which resulted in many second and longs from penalties and sacks.
Next week on September 28, the Cardinals take on the New York Jets. The Cardinals will stay on the east coast to avoid unnecessary travel. Week 2 wasn’t a must win, but improving to 3-0, would have been nice. With the most difficult games being on the road, the match up against 1-1 team needs to result in a win for the Cardinals to stay on top of the season.