There was a Monday Night Football game today? If I didn't know any better, I would have thought it was cancelled.
Viewers were expecting a hard nosed Monday night game between two great NFC West defenses. Instead, the Cardinals gave them their own form of laughable entertainment, as they dropped a huge divisional game to the San Francisco 49ers in style.
And it looked bad from the start, to be honest. Nothing was going Arizona's way. The offensive line was getting no push in the run or pass game, causing the offense to look flat. And when they finally were able to protect quarterback John Skelton on an isolated play, he would sail it over his receiver's head. It will be interesting to see what type of adjustments the Cards make for next week, as it doesn't seem like they can keep going down this road with the current 4 game losing streak they are on.
The defense, despite being heralded from all corners of the country, did not play too well, either. Granted they were on the field for most of the night, but still, the 24 points they allowed often came on big mistakes. Patrick Peterson looked like an undrafted rookie free agent next to Michael Crabtree, who burned him for two touchdowns.
When Frank Gore and Kendall Hunter got the ball, they made things happen. It seemed as if Mike Tirico's favorite phrase was "Gore goes for 5 yards," after every running play. Luckily, the Cardinals did get some decent pressure on Alex Smith, but that didn't really come until the second half. Even when they did, he managed to go 14/15 through the air in the first half and ended the game 18/19.
Daryl Washington had a monster game for the Cardinals from the inside linebacker position. He added two more sacks to his resume, giving him 8 on the season. Joining Washington in his big game were Darnell Dockett and Calais Campbell. It was really the secondary that let the team down.
Perhaps the most telling stat of the night was that Larry Fitzgerald only had two receptions in time where it counted, ending the night with five total receptions. That is not a formula for success for Arizona, as he is their best player by a long shot. Starting running back LaRod Stephens-Howling had 8 carries for 6 yards. Ugly, ugly, ugly.
The 49ers only recorded four sacks, but it was their pressure and quarterback hits that truly did the damage. They wore Skelton down, despite the fact that he wasn't doing well in the first place. The run game was stopped dead in it's tracks. Nothing went according to plan.
By the end of the first half, it was pretty much just garbage time. A walkthrough. The 49ers wanted to be on defense just so that they could sack Skelton. It was abysmal. Hopefully Arizona shows up next week as they travel to Green Bay to
lose to play the Packers.