If every game the Arizona Cardinals play in 2012 is like their season opener, there will be a lot of Cardinals fans that go bald this season, as the Cardinals squeaked out a 20-16 victory over the Seattle Seahawks.
Kevin Kolb came off the bench in the fourth quarter to lead a game-winning touchdown drive after John Skelton left the game with a right ankle injury. The Cardinals were called for two pass interference penalties on Seattle's final drive, and the officials gave the Seahawks an extra timeout. And that was all just in the fourth quarter.
Click the jump to find out the good, the bad and the ugly from Arizona's week one victory.
- The Defense: The defense carried the offense all game long, especially in the second half where the Cardinals failed to record a first down until early in the fourth quarter. Darnell Docket was constantly in the backfield blowing up plays, and the defense attacked Russel Wilson all game long. Patrick Peterson had a solid sophomore debut, and the secondary made key plays down the stretch to seal the victory. Paris Lennon and Daryl Washington both recorded sacks and the defense held Marshawn Lynch to 85 yards on 21 carries.
- Pass Protection: I have been very critical of the Arizona offensive line in the past. In this case I love admitting that I was wrong (at least for one week). The offensive line kept both John Skelton and Kevin Kolb upright all game as Arizona quarterbacks were sacked only once in 36 pass attempts. Kolb had a great pocket and open windows to throw the football during his fourth quarter, game-winning touchdown drive.
- The Running Game: The Arizona Cardinals leading rusher was none other than Andre Roberts, who carried the ball one time. Yes you read that correctly, the No. 2 receiver for the Cardinals led the team in rushing, with 15 yards. The running game was abysmal as both Ryan Williams and Beanie Wells had a hard time finding holes to run through. The combo of Williams and Wells combined for 23 yards on 15 carries. Both men failed to find the endzone in short yardage situations near the goal line and both averaged less than 2.1 yards per carry. The Cardinals will need balance on offense if they hope to keep up in the NFC West.
- Redzone Scoring: In the NFL it is crucial to get touchdowns when you get inside your opponent's 20 and especially when you get inside the 10-yard line. On the Cardinals second possession, John Skelton drove the team down to the Seattle two-yard line, only to be stopped on three consecutive plays and forced into a field goal. In the third quarter, Arizona started on the Seattle 17, only to settle for a field goal. The Cardinals must get better at turning redzone opportunities into touchdowns instead of field goals.
- The Officiating: The replacement officials were downright awful on Sunday and it almost cost Arizona the game. The officiating crew called two backward passes from Russel Wilson incomplete (one was overturned on replay), they got numerous ball spots wrong, and they awarded Seattle an extra timeout in the final minute of the game. No doubt that these replacement refs have to go and the league step up and get a deal done with actual NFL officials.