The Arizona Cardinals started 2-0, but this will not be the year that they go undefeated. The 24-17…
Familiar Mistakes Show Up
The defense was stout through almost three quarters. But what should worry the Cardinals at least a little were the miscues and other failings that harkened back to last year. They started slowly, falling behind 10-0, committed too many penalties (six, including three on special teams) and couldn't execute in the fourth quarter.
The things the Cardinals offense "hung their hats on" last year, in the words of quarterback Kurt Warner, were major weaknesses in the 24-17 loss at Washington. They were excellent at scoring touchdowns in the red zone last year (68 percent), but on Sunday they couldn't get it in despite having first and goal at the 10.
They were also an efficient offense in the two-minute package last year, especially with Warner playing quarterback. On Sunday, however, they failed to gain a first down in a critical possession inside four minutes.
Maybe that was an anomaly, and the Cardinals will find themselves in the next week or two. But while they might not be stressing about the loss, it's clear the Cardinals have plenty to work on this week in preparing for the Jets.
"Nobody said we're at the top," said fullback Terrelle Smith. "All that hype about being 2-0, you can't listen to it. Keep your head down and your elbows up and keep going.
"It's only one game, it's not the end of the world. The bad part is we lost; the best part is that we can fix it."
--The Cardinals blew a chance to go 3-0 for the first time since 1974, but they didn't seem too down about it. If they beat the Jets on Sunday, they will be 3-1 for the first time since 1985, three years before they moved to Arizona.
--WR Larry Fitzgerald's 62-yard touchdown catch was the longest scoring play of his career. Fitzgerald had 109 yards receiving, the 15th time in his career that he's passed the 100-yard mark.
--WR Jerheme Urban, the team's fourth receiver, now has completed more passes (1) than he has caught (0) this season. Urban completed an 18-yard pass to running back Tim Hightower in last Sunday's game. "I thought we got a little bit different look than what I was expecting," said Urban, a high school quarterback. "Tim did a good job of getting open. I was happy to get it over there."
--The Cardinals hope avoiding the rigors of cross-country travel will pay off with a victory Sunday over the Jets. Instead of returning home from Washington, they stayed in the D.C. area and will practice at Catholic University. "At some point, if we get to the Super Bowl, that's what this week would be like," coach Ken Whisenhunt said. "You have to go to another city for a week and practice before a game, much like the Giants did at our facility (for Super Bowl XLII.)"
Whisenhunt made similar trips as a player, only going from the East to the West, playing in Los Angeles and San Francisco. "The one thing I know is that it saves us 6,000 miles of travel and it saves us 10 hours in an airplane," Whisenhunt said. "When you travel that long in an airplane your body suffers the effects of it."
STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
--RB J.J. Arrington was inactive for the third straight game, but the Cardinals might have to give him a shot at returning kicks. Steve Breaston isn't finding much room the run, and Arrington has been explosive in that role before.
--RG Deuce Lutui is barely hanging on to his starting job. A holding penalty and yielding a sack won't help his cause. Elton Brown is pushing for the gig and might just get it now.
--DE/OLB Bertrand Berry has sacked the quarterback in each game this year. Berry is playing well in a part-time role, sharing time with Travis LaBoy. Berry left last Sunday's game with a left groin injury but he returned to play a considerable amount.
--FS Antrel Rolle became the third defender to play on offense. He caught an 8-yard pass but the play was nullified by penalty. Cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and strong safety Adrian Wilson have also played on offense this season.
--NT Gabe Watson hopes to make his season debut this Sunday against the Jets. Watson hasn't played yet because of a fractured kneecap suffered last summer. He went through a full week of practice last week. The Cardinals could use the help because they are not getting much push up the middle, and Watson is their best nose tackle.
REPORT CARD VS. REDSKINS
PASSING OFFENSE: C -- Kurt Warner was efficient and Larry Fitzgerald's 62-yard TD catch was the longest of his career. But Anquan Boldin wasn't involved much (3 catches, 25 yards), and the two-minute offense was ineffective.
RUSHING OFFENSE B -- Edgerrin James was productive, gaining 93 yards on 18 carries, a 5.2-yard average. Overall, the Cardinals averaged 5 yards a carry as the line did a nice job, especially opening holes inside.
PASS DEFENSE: C -- The Redskins didn't try to go deep, but they didn't have to. They hurt the Cardinals with an array of screens. The Cardinals had two sacks but they never got consistent pressure on Jason Campbell. And there were no interceptions.
RUSH DEFENSE: C -- The Cardinals did a great job through the first half, but the Redskins dominated in the second half, especially the fourth quarter. The Cardinals couldn't stop them when they knew the run was coming.
SPECIAL TEAMS: D -- The return games produced nothing but penalties. There were three of them, and the resulting poor field position hurt badly. The coverage teams were decent.
COACHING: D -- The Cardinals looked a lot like they did at times last year. They started slowly, had too many penalties and were occasionally slow in getting the plays in. Coach Ken Whisenhunt will take some heat for electing to punt when facing fourth-and-four at midfield with 2:46 left. The Cardinals had two timeouts and the two-minute warning to work with, but it's not like the defense was stopping the Redskins.
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