Cardinals Blow Big Lead, Fall To Ravens 30-27

The Arizona Cardinals found yet another way to lose, this time blowing a 21-point lead to drop their sixth-straight game.

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Cardinals Blow Big Lead To Ravens, Lose 6th-Straight

The Arizona Cardinals jumped all over the Baltimore Ravens in the second quarter with a series of forced turnovers, a punt return touchdown and a couple of nice throws from Kevin Kolb. The defense got pressure on Joe Flacco and with a 24-3 lead found themselves in control of the ball game.

Unfortunately for the Cardinals, a 21-point road lead isn't enough as they get outscored 24-3 in the second half and lose their sixth-straight game on a last second field goal. The final score for the Ravens win, 30-27.

The tide of a game that started so well for Arizona turned late in the 2nd quarter when the Ravens put the ball in Flacco's hands. That typically not been a good recipe for the Ravens but against the Cardinals defense it worked. Instead of the inaccurate passes he made early in the game, Flacco found a rhythm and marched his team down the field and into the red zone. A Cardinals sack forced a field goal, but momentum had shifted.

That momentum carried over to the second half with the Ravens offense scoring touchdowns after 80 and 88 yard drives thanks to an incredible performance by former Cardinals WR Anquan Boldin who easily abused young cornerbacks A.J. Jefferson and Patrick Peterson in single coverage.

When the Cardinals adjusted coverage to take away Boldin, they stopped getting pressure on Flacco and he was able to find his other guys to move the ball.

The Arizona offensive line couldn't keep Kolb on his feet (six sacks allowed) and it eventually led to a turnover as former ASU Sun Devil Terrell Suggs hit Kolb as he was throwing the ball. The ball fluttered out and landed in a defender's hands. With a short field, the Ravens scored again in part thanks to a third pass interference penalty drawn by Boldin in the end zone. 

Baltimore took a 27-24 lead off the ensuing Ray Rice touchdown to complete the comeback heading into the fourth quarter.

Cardinals fans can't complain about the officiating as they had an interception reversed by a questionable pass interference call along with a few other fortunate flags. That call, along with some other turns of fortune, allowed the Cardinals to tie the game with a 45-yard Jay Feely field goal.

Kolb had the ball in his hands with about three minutes left and tie game but predictably the offense couldn't generate any movement and the defense couldn't hold. Flacco found Torrey Smith for a 36-yard completion to put the Ravens in easy range for a game-winning field goal.

After putting up 151 yards in the first half, the Cardinals offense only generated 56 yards in the second half against the NFL's best defense. On the flip side, the Arizona secondary was torched by Flacco who threw for 336 yards on the day (31-51) with two-thirds of that coming in the second half.

It was an epic collapse by a bad football team who found yet another way to lose a game.

For more on this game, visit Revenge of the Birds blog.     

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Cardinals Vs. Ravens Score Update: Arizona Stunning Baltimore With Big Plays

The Arizona Cardinals are stunning the NFL world by making huge plays on defense and special teams against the highly-favored Baltimore Ravens. With more confidence, even Kevin Kolb is playing at another level. The Cardinals forced a fumble and scored. Returned a punt for a touchdown. And picked off Flacco and scored another seven points to take an incredible 24-3 lead.

On the first great play, O'Brien Schofield, one of two young linebackers getting playing time, beat his man around the edge with his speed and forced a fumble giving the Cardinals the ball at the two yard line. Two plays later and Beanie Wells was diving over the line for a touchdown to give Arizona a 10-3 lead.

On their next series, the Cardinals defense took advantage of the Ravens decision to throw the ball and got pressure on Flacco. The Ravens went three and out.

Following the defensive hold, dynamic rookie Patrick Peterson broke multiple tackles to return the punt for a touchdown. It was an incredible play by the young play maker and put Arizona up 17-3 and started the boos from the Baltimore crowd.

Making this crazy game even crazier, the Cardinals picked off Flacco on his next snap, giving the Cardinals the ball at the Raven 25 yard line. Kolb found Larry Fitzgerald for 13 yards and then made a fantastic back-shoulder throw to Early Doucet for a 10-yard touchdown pass.

The Ravens did a good job moving the ball down the field late in the half but Arizona got a big third down sack to force a field goal. Arizona takes a 24-6 lead into the half.

Defensive coordinator Ray Horton said that he would re-install big portions of the complex defensive scheme he was forced to remove after the first two weeks. The increased pressure and different looks are doing their job as the Cardinals are finally getting pressure on the opposing QB. It helps, of course, when you know the other team has to throw the ball.

It's young players for Arizona stepping up with OLBs Sam Acho and O'Brien Schofield playing well along with a tipped pass from rookie David Carter and of course the great TD from Peterson. 

Baltimore had a 156-151 edge in total yards but the two turnovers and the Peterson TD have changed the game. Kolb is 6-12 for 126 yards with one touchdown and has been sacked three times. Flacco is 12-23 for 98 yards with an INT and two sacks. Beanie Wells has 38 yards on 10 carries while Ray Rice has 47 yards on 11 rushes. 

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Cardinals Vs. Ravens Score Update: Arizona Strikes First, Ravens Running Roughshod

The Arizona Cardinals found themselves in early holes in their last two games and weren't good enough to climb out. On the road against the Baltimore Ravens they were able to reverse that trend and score first to take an early 3-0 lead. At the end of the first quarter, the Ravens got their offense moving on the ground and tied the game early in the second quarter.

The Arizona Cardinals offense at least showed some signs of life on their first possession. They recorded three first downs and stayed on the field for nine plays and over five minutes which was good to see. On the down side, Kolb was sacked twice and hit hard at least three times. 

Beanie Wells started the game and had a few nice runs which was good to see. Perhaps even better, Ken Whisenhunt used all of his backs and gave to ball to both Chester Taylor and Alfonso Smith. Wells can't be asked to play every down and Taylor and Smith, along wit the speedy LaRod Stephens-Howling, give a different look in protection and the passing game.

On their second possession, the Cardinals did a great job running the ball to set up a quick slant from Kolb to Larry Fitzgerald that went for 66 yards. That was the longest play allowed this season by the Raven defense.

Unfortunately, the Cardinals were stuffed in the red zone with a rush that went nowhere, a high pass that maybe could have been caught be Early Doucet and sack. On third down, LT Levi Brown got completely abused by Terrell Suggs who got to Kolb in a flash. The Cardinals had to settle for three points to get on the board first.

In a game where Ravens QB Joe Flacco looks completely inaccurate (3-8), the Cardinals defense hasn't been able to contain the run. They gave up 70 yards on the ground already but were at least able to hold Baltimore to a game-tying field goal in the red zone.

The Cardinals defense hasn't got pressure on Flacco on the few times he dropped back and more importantly have been burned with back side cuts by Ray Rice who has 46 yards on 10 carries. Adrian Wilson dropped an interception that could have gone 100 yards for a TD. Plays have to be made.

Overall though, a positive start for Arizona.

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Beanie Wells Active For Cardinals, Todd Heap Out Versus Ravens

The Arizona Cardinals got some good news headed into their road game against the Baltimore Ravens. Feature back Beanie Wells is active and should play. Wells hurt his knee in the second quarter of last week's game and was questionable headed into this Sunday. The Cardinals desperately need Wells running game to take pressure off Kevin Kolb.

Not active for the Cardinals is TE Todd Heap who will miss his second game due to a hamstring issue. Look for Kolb to finally connect with rookie TE Rob Housler after missing him for wide open touchdowns in the last two games. 

Veteran OLB Joey Porter (knee) is also inactive which moves rookie Sam Acho into the starting spot. Porter has been ineffective more of the season and with the Cardinals at 1-5 on the season, it's time to start seeing what Acho can do and giving him more opportunities to play. We would also expect to see the other OLB, O'Brien Schofield getting more reps behind Clark Haggans and don't be surprised to see ILB Stewart Bradley play more in place of Paris Lenon.

For more on this game, visit Revenge of the Birds blog. 

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Cardinals Whisenhunt Says Change Is Coming, Doesn't Rule Out Benching Kolb

We heard it after the game on Sunday and Arizona Cardinals coach Ken Whisenhunt repeated it Monday: He's looking for guys that can make plays and every position is under scrutiny. Many feel that Kevin Kolb would be excluded from that but Whisenhunt didn't rule out a change when asked specifically about the quarterback position.

"The quarterback is obviously the focal point of a lot of things when you don't win games -- when you lose five games in a row. Like I said, every position is going to be looked at from that standpoint," he said.

Most likely, that's just a message being sent and not indication that Kolb is going to get benched. At the same time, Whisenhunt is certainly ratcheting up the pressure on Kolb and making it clear that missing plays is not acceptable. 

Whisenhunt repeatedly mentioned the missed throw to TE Rob Housler that should have gone for a touchdown. It was very similar to a play Kolb missed against Minnesota.

"Looking at our football team, we're looking for guys that can make plays and if we have to make changes across the board at different positions in order to do that, that's what we're going to do."

As has been much discussed, Kolb's got to get better at his footwork to allow him to stand in the pocket and make some of the throws. Whisenhunt stressed that he has made some big plays but the missed throw to Housler was purely footwork. 

In case you are wondering what a change would look like, John Skelton has regained the number two quarterback job over Rich Bartel but Whiz says he's comfortable with either guy.

Barring injury, however, we still think it is highly unlikely that a move would be made any time soon.

The public pressure on Kolb is interesting, however, given how much pressure Kevin already puts on himself. Perhaps this is all more about deflecting attention or giving fans the impression that the coaching staff is "doing" something.

More likely candidates for change are outside linebackers Sam Acho and O'Brien Schofield who both played well on Sunday according to their coach, "Those guys are getting a better feel for our defense and we're going to integrate them more."

Other Notes:

  • Unblocked rushers on the interception and safety: The first one was an interior line mistake. The second was a scheme thing. Gave a different front. Stayed in base defense. Got to get rid of the ball in that situation.
  • "A good way to assess our team right now is: other teams are making us pay for our mistakes and we're not making other teams pay for their mistakes," Whisenhunt said.  Example, they complete 95-yard pass to Mike Wallace. Kolb not making pass to Rob Housler.
  • Rashad Johnson did ok. Solid performance.
  • Stewart Bradley getting better and getting used to rushing the quarterback which is new for him. He's improving.
  • "I think we judge progress of an offensive line by wins and losses. Ask anyone who knows anything about football, games are won or lost in the trenches. No, I don't think we're doing as good as we could because we're not winning," Lyle Sendlien on the offensive line's performance
  • "Absolutely, I thought we were just getting ready to get a groove going in there. I was feeling pretty good. We were starting to get comfortable with the pressure they were bringing and we were picking everything up. Lanes were just starting to open up. It sucked," Beanie Wells on the running game before he got injured. Wells wouldn't say much about the injury or his timetable. The plan before the injury was definitely to run the ball more and try and wear down the injury-riddled defense front for the Steelers.

For more on the Cardinals, visit Revenge of the Birds blog.

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Beanie Wells Injury Update: Cardinals Dodge Bullet, No Structural Damage

The Arizona Cardinals have had their fair share of bad news this season and with the way this team is playing, they can't afford to lose any more important pieces. Running back Beanie Wells left Sunday's game in the second quarter with what was described at the time as a right knee sprain. The team, however, initially thought it could be season-ending but the report on Monday is much more favorable.

Head coach Ken Whisenhunt announced that Wells suffered swelling in the knee and that it "locked up" after he took a hit in the game. The examination revealed no structural damage and surgery is not required.

The injury was reported as a bone bruise with 1-2 week prognosis by the NFL Network. Whisenhunt wouldn't comment on the specifics or timetable.

"I don't know if bone bruise is accurate. I don't want to get into specifics of what it is. I don't want to put a time frame on it because I don't want to set the young man up for failure," Whisenhunt said.

The news for former Arizona Cardinals running back Tim Hightower (now with Washington) is not so good. It's believed that Hightower suffered a torn ACL and will be out for the season.

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Cardinals Vs. Steelers, Monday Morning Quarterback: It's Not Good, But It's Not All Bad

The Arizona Cardinals lost another game thanks to mistakes that cost the team. There were positive signs, however, including a better performance from Kevin Kolb and three young players who stood out.

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