Coming off a bye week, it’s logical to believe the Arizona Cardinals would focus on their most pressing areas of need. It looked like that would be the case as the Cardinals’ running game came out inspired and WR Larry Fitzgerald was involved in the offensive game plan early and often. However, both of those areas of focus deteriorated as the game went on which ended in Arizona hanging on for dear life to secure the victory.
After forcing the high-powered Houston Texans offense into a three-and-out on their first possession, the Cardinals leaned heavily on RB Tim Hightower. Hightower touched the ball five times on the team’s initial drive, compiling 32 yards and scoring the games first touchdown. 14 of Hightower’s yards came on the ground while 18 came in the passing game. Despite the success he experienced early on, Hightower was seldom used from that point on. He accumulated just 17 yards rushing and 30 yards receiving for the game.
Another mysterious decision by the Arizona coaching staff was the disappearance of Fitzgerald after he torched the Texans’ secondary throughout the first half. Fitzgerald racked up five catches for 79 yards and two touchdowns but was thrown to just a handful of times during second-half play. Fitzgerald was targeting six times on the afternoon, five coming in the first half but on only one occasion in the second half.
There’s no denying the 21-0 lead the Cardinals raced out to on the legs of Fitzgerald and Hightower and how that lead evaporated with them out of the loop. Sure, QB Kurt Warner completed 26-of-38 passes for 302 yards and two scores but leaving two of the team’s best playmakers out of the action in the second half is inexcusable. After all, the Cardinals needed an interception returned for a touchdown by CB Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and a goal-line stand by the defense to secure the 28-21 win.
Arizona has clearly lacked organization and rhythm through the first quarter of the season, particularly on the offensive side of the ball. One would expect some loose ends to be tied up during the bye week but the same problems that hampered the Cardinals through their first three contests of the season continued in Week 5.
Arizona is right back in the thick of things in the NFC West race but the Cardinal faithful should be worried about the direction of their team. Inconsistent play calling and execution remain major question marks and if not corrected will plague Arizona’s consistency all season long.
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