The Arizona Cardinals picked up one of their biggest victories in years yesterday when they went into New England and beat the Patriots 20-18. New England had never lost a home opener at Gillette Stadium and the Patriots had the best home record of any team in the NFL over the past ten years. These are the positives and negatives from the Cardinal victory.
1. The Pass Rush: The Cardinals got to Tom Brady four times on Sunday and pressure was applied all game to the New England quarterback. Calais Campbell got his first two sacks of the season, and even Quentin Groves got in on the action. Putting pressure on the quarterback is always crucial in any game, but when you are facing a future Hall of Famer in Tom Brady, you need to make him as uncomfortable as possible, and Arizona did that.
2. Special Teams: The Cardinals played excellent on special teams all day. Quentin Groves blocked a punt deep in New England territory, setting up Arizona's first touchdown. On the other side, Dave Zastudil averaged 46.7 yards per punt and dropped two inside the New England 20 yard line. With an offense struggling to score, special teams and field position is huge.
3. The Cornerbacks: Patrick Peterson has improved is coverage skills dramatically from last year. Peterson held Brandon Llyod in check most of the game, got his first interception of the season and even made some crucial plays in run support. Jamal Flemming had a crucial pass break up to force a New England field goal and William Gay had a solid game as well.
4. The Opening Drive: The opening drive of the game could not have gone much better for Arizona. Beanie Wells ran the ball effectively, Kevin Kolb was an efficient 4/6 and Arizona marched down the field on the New England defense, setting the tone for the rest of the game. Patrick Peterson even got in on the action with a 17 yard run. The only thing that could have made it better was an Arizona touchdown.
5. The Offensive Line: The unit had another solid game as Kolb was sacked only once on 27 pass attempts. Against Chandler Jones and Vince Wilfork, the offensive line held up pretty well. The unit should get better as the season goes on and the players get used to playing with each other.
1. The Running Game: Arizona has not been able to establish a running game in two games and it almost cost the redbirds yesterday. Beanie Wells finished the game with 14 carries for 44 yards and Ryan Williams had 10 carries for 13 yards. Sometimes the holes just aren't there to run through, and sometimes there is too much East/West running from Wells and Williams.
2. Too Many Field Goals: Against good teams it is crucial to get touchdowns instead of field goals when you get into enemy territory. The first two possessions, Arizona could have easily been up at least 10-0 if not 14-0. This team needs to improve on finishing drives when they get into the redzone.
3. Arizona Almost Gave it Away: The Cardinals have to learn how to finish games. Arizona practically handed the game to New England on a silver platter with the inability to run the football late and a Ryan Williams fumble. For as well as the Cardinals played for the first three quarters, Arizona should have lost that game.
4. Where is Larry?: Through two games Larry Fitzgerald has five catches for 67 yards. Fitzgerald had one catch (on the first drive of the game) for four yards on Sunday. Fitzgerald is being blanketed by defenses and Arizona quarterbacks are having a hard time finding him when he is open.
5. Predicability on Offense: The Cardinals have not taken many shots down the field during the first two games of the season. Also, I think Peterson should be on offense more than two or three snaps a game. I would like to see more creativeness with the offense next week against Philadelphia.