Cardinals Crumble In Fourth, Blow 10-Point Lead; Fall To Giants 31-27

Arizona has a chance to go down the field and score for the win, but loses for the third straight game, this time on a late TD reception by Hakeem Nicks.

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16 Total Updates since September 28, 2011
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Cardinals Vs. Giants: Frustration Or Hope Depends On Day Of The Week

The Arizona Cardinals are now 1-3 after losing Sunday to the New York Giants. They could easily be 4-0 and they also could easily be 0-4. That's how close this team thinks things are. It's understandable to be frustrated and coach Ken Whisenhunt asked for patience from the fans and his players. The players seem to be on board, the fans not so much.

How you react to these close games and blown opportunities depends on you and you're outlook on life. How Kevin Kolb reacts depends on the day of the week.

"On Monday, it hurts. That's when you're getting ready for the next football team and you're saying, 'How do we stack up'. It feels good because you're saying, 'Alright, we're as good as anybody in this league'. We know that now through the preseason and the regular season that we can play with anybody. We're as physical as any team out there. Just got to learn how to finish," Kolb said.

So be positive if it suits you or be negative about the 1-3 record.

The Cardinals are still not out of it given the division they play in. If they are right and they are just a few mistakes away from turning these losses to wins then you could see Arizona beating Minnesota and coming back after the bye week and beating a struggling Steelers team at home.

If they are wrong, than five wins will likely be the ceiling for this season. 

Stay tuned.

Evaluating Kolb's play

According to Whisenhunt, Kevin Kolb made some plays and blew some. He's got a lot to learn and as a young quarterback (11 career starts) is still figuring it out. Whisenhunt pointed out that Aaron Rodgers struggled in his first season (Packers went 6-10 in 2008) and he had been in that system a few years before taking over the starting QB job from He Who Won't Be Named.

Daryn Colledge was on that Packers team and agreed with the comparison.

"It's real similar. When Aaron took over...it was bad. There was a lot of stuff to be transitioned, especially at that position...The difference is, we're in more of the games than we ever were in that first year in Green Bay when Aaron took over. We've had an opportunity to win every game and we're just letting it slip away at the end."

One thing that was obvious watching the game was that Kolb still is adjusting to when to stay in the pocket and when to scramble. According to Colledge, it's on the offensive line to make him feel safe. Whisenhunt agrees it's an issue but thinks it will improve with time.

"There's certainly some plays where you'd like for him to hang in there (in the pocket) but there's also some plays he can make with his feet and you've got to balance those. As he gets more comfortable with the reads and the progressions with our offense and which side to work and where to go with the ball," Whiz said.

Kolb pretty much agreed word for word.

"There's certain times when I need to be definite on where the ball needs to go and that comes with running that play over, and over, and over again. The good ones (quarterbacks) who've been in the system awhile know as soon as the ball's snapped, where the ball's going to go because they've seen it a lot. We don't have that advantage," he said, adding there's a fine line between staying the pocket and trying to make a play on the move.

Monday injury report

OL Brandon Keith had a knee issue that knocked him out of the game. The knee had some swelling but doesn't look like it will be a long term problem. Jeremy Bridges finished the game and played well. Keith will be evaluated during the week.

CB Richard Marshall left the game with ankle (?) injury but was able to return and CB A.J. Jefferson had the wind knocked out of him which caused him to miss just one snap.

Beanie Wells was tired and sore after the game but came through it OK and should be fine for next week in Minnesota.

Overall, a pretty good week health-wise.

Other notes

  • According to Whisenhunt, it's easier for a quarterback to complete a big play than it is to defend the pass. Defending the passing game requires more team coordination which was hurt by the lockout which could account for big passing numbers around the league.
  • The defense didn't get as much pressure as needed in the fourth quarter and struggled with the no-huddle situation. It's a special situation that's not gotten as much work in training camp and practice due to the lockout.
  • As for the fumble call late in the game, Whisenhunt would only say that it doesn't matter what he thinks and repeated that it shouldn't have come to that. He clearly thinks the call was wrong but wouldn't come out and say and is right that it shouldn't have been an issue.
  • "We're close, we're better than we were last week. We've got to stay the course and continue to work that way. We know that it's going to turn for us if we continue to work the way we're doing and we make a few more plays." -- Whisenhunt
  • "I think we played better defensively except for the last part of the game this week. We were going against a very good offense and we shut down the run game and we ran the ball very well. We've improved with the run game. As we continue to do that it's going to open up other avenues for us, we hope, offensively." -- Whisenhunt
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Cardinals Vs. Giants, Final Score: Cardinals Lose 31-27

In a wild fourth quarter, Eli Manning rallies the New York Giants from 10 points down in under a minute, connecting with Hakeem Nicks for a 29-yard touchdown to beat the Arizona Cardinals 31-27. The Cardinals once again fail to deliver in the fourth quarter and once again lose a close game. Arizona has not lost its last three games by a total of eight points. 

"It kind of goes without saying, I am extremely disappointed," Cardinals coach Ken Whisenhunt said after the game. "I really thought we had the momentum right there at the end of the game but we obviously can't let them god down and get points that quickly like we did."

Despite the frustrating nature of the three losses, the Cardinals players and coaches still believe they are close. 

"I know we are learning about ourselves," Cardinals quarterback Kevin Kolb said. 

Even Giants coach Tom Coughiln credited the Cardinals, "I'll say this, for a long time it was an absolutely struggle, as you saw. Give them credit. They are a good team."

After struggling in the first half finding pay dirt, Kevin Kolb led the Arizona Cardinals 78 yards down the field before Beanie Wells ran over two defenders to score the touchdown. The drive was marked by another incredible catch by Larry Fitzgerald on a long ball that was under thrown by Kolb. Fitz went up with the defender and won the battle in the air as he's done some many times. The pass went for 47 yards and was the first big offensive play of the game for Arizona.

The momentum continued Arizona's way on their next defensive series. Rookie David Carter overpowered the Giants' center and knocked the ball from Eli Manning and Darnell Dockett recovered at the New York five-yard line. Beanie Wells once again found the end zone on a power run, bulling his way over the goal line to put the Cardinals up 20-10.

From there, things got iffy for Arizona.

They gave up a 13-play, 75-yard drive that ended in in a touchdown for New York and then promptly turned the ball back over. Kolb was picked off trying to find Fitzgerald down the sideline. Former Cardinal's safety Antrel Rolle read the play the entire time and easily jumped in front of the ball.

The defense cleaned up the mess, however, and returned the ball to Kolb with a hold. Kevin did what any smart quarterback should do in a situation like this and gave the ball to Beanie Wells. Wells scampered for 44 yards to put Arizona right back on the doorstep. 

After a couple of good runs by Alfonso Smith, Beanie put it into the end zone to make the game 27-17, but the defense didn't hold with five minutes left on the clock.

New York quickly moved down the field and scored a touchdown, as their tight end Jake Ballard made a great catch in the back of the endzone. The drive was seven plays, 80 yards. 

The Arizona offense could not move the ball on their next drive, once again failing to move the chains and hold a lead for the third time this season. The possession lasted just 27 seconds with one run, a New York timeout and two incomplete passes.

New York got the ball back with 3:10 on the clock capitalized with a 31 second, 48-yard scoring drive. There was controversy on a play by Victor Cruz in which he put the ball on the ground before getting up and not getting touched, but was ruled he gave himself up, eliminating a review. Hakeen Nicks then beat Patrick Peterson for a 29-yard catch for a touchdown to give the Giants a 31-27 lead.

Whisenhunt clearly disagreed with the call but correctly pointed out that is wasn't the different in the game, "We had a lot of chances. What we have to do is focus on what we're doing, get better at that, not make the mistakes we're making and that will take care of itself."

The Cardinals had the chance for the win, but on fourth down in Giants territory, Corey Webster broke up a pass intended for Larry Fitzgerald. 

In a losing effort, Beanie Wells had the best game of his young career, rushing for 138 yards and three touchdowns on 27 carries. Kevin Kolb was 20-34 for 237 yards and an interception. He was flushed out of the pocket on a number of occasions and never really seemed in control of the game.

Fitzgerald set the franchise record for career yards and also the 28th game with over 100 yards. He finished with 102 yards on eight catches. The only record he said he cared about was the team's.

"The only record I'm concerned about is 1-3 and that leaves a bitter taste in my mouth. I know the guys in the locker room feel the same way," Fitzgerald said.

Manning threw for 321 yards and two scores, going 27-40. Hakeem Nicks had 10 receptions for 162 yards and the winning score. 

Arizona falls to 1-3 on the season, with the three losses coming by a combined eight points. They avoid last place in he division only because the St. Louis Rams are 0-4 to start the season. 

Join the conversation with other Cardinals fans at Revenge of the Birds.

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Cardinals Vs. Giants Score Update: Arizona Strong Defense Gives Cards Early Lead

The Arizona Cardinals defense came to play. On the first drive they have perfect coverage on the first few snaps and almost picked off a pass. After having a 3rd & 10 stop reversed by a New York Giants false start, they forced a fumble and gave Kevin Kolb and the offense the ball on the 16-yard line.

The Giants red zone defense held and forced a 27-yard field goal, but Arizona was on the board first and the momentum continued. The Giants second possession ended with after three quick plays with the defensive line stuffing a few run attempts and getting pressure on Eli Manning without having to blitz.

With good field position after the New York punt, Kolb moved the ball 30 yards on eight plays with a good mix of mid-range passes and a couple of runs from Wells. The drive went into the red zone before Kolb was hit from behind and fumbled the ball. He had a chance to fall on it but unwisely tried to reach down and grab it off the turf and run. That mistake resulted in a turnover and negated another scoring chance.

The defense held the Giants on their next drive to 29 yards before forcing the punt. The Cardinals have the ball on their own 36 as the first quarter ends with Arizona up 3-0.

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Cardinals Vs. Giants: New York Expert Breaks Down The Game

As has become a tradition here on our fair web site, we reached out to our SB Nation brethren to provide expert insight into the up-coming opponent for the Arizona Cardinals. With the New York Giants of New Jersey on the schedule for NFL Week 4, we called on Ed Valentine, Giants blogger at Big Blue View and regional editor at SB Nation New York to share his thoughts on the game.

Giants injuries

The big story we keep hearing about with the Giants is their injuries. We asked Ed to give us the run down on what exactly the Giants are missing. They names he listed were:

In addition to these key injuries, the Giants lost a few big names to free agency which left fans of Big Blue feeling down after the first two weeks of the NFL season. (The Giants opened with a loss to the Redskins and then beat the Rams.)

Then in Week 3, New York beat their hated rivals from Philadelphia for the first time since 2008 and all is well again in the world.

"What we saw Sunday (against the Eagles) is that if the Giants are able to play turnover-free football, if they are able to prevent the big play on defense which has been an issue for awhile now, if they are able to do those things there is still enough talent for this to be a very, very good football team," Valentine said.

Giants defense

The Giants are ranked 15th in the NFL in rush defense (310 yards allowed) and 20th in pass defense (765 allowed). The secondary has been hit hardest by the injuries which contributed to New York allowing four-straight 300+ yard passing games to opponents prior to the Philadelphia game.

With pass defense an issue, Ed is understandably nervous about Larry Fitzgerald. "When you look at Larry Fitzgerald, it makes me nervous."

The teeth of the Giants defense is their ability to get pressure on the quarterback. They got to Michael Vick with just a three-man rush thanks in large part to Jason Pierre-Paul who Ed called a "Monster". Justin Tuck is a bit banged up but expected to play and the Giants rotate in a lot of D-linemen throughout the game.

New York runs a 4-3 base defense and like to blitz linebackers as well as corners and safeties from the edge. Kevin Kolb will have to be on his toes in this game.

Giants offense

The Giants are 18th in rushing offense and 14th in passing. According to Ed, New York has struggled to run the ball consistently and put together long drives. They scored against the Eagles with big plays which could be changing the identity of the Giants.

"They're almost shaping up and starting to look more like a big play offense than a grind it out, chew up the clock kind of an offense which is different for the Giants," Valentine said.

Eli Manning has been exceptional lately and is coming off a four-touchdown, no interception game against the Eagles.

Prediction

"I'm a little nervous about this game, to be honest with you," Ed said.

Valentine thinks that coming off the big win over the Eagles it is possible the Giants will suffer a let down, "It wouldn't be first time."

Visit Big Blue View and SB Nation New York for more on the New York Giants.

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Beanie Wells Injury Update: 'Feels Good, Looks Good'

Things are looking up for Arizona Cardinals running back Beanie Wells who missed last Sunday's game against Seattle due to a hamstring injury. Wells practiced more on Thursday and according to coach Ken Whisenhunt, he was able to "open it up" a bit and didn't suffer any setbacks.

"Beanie's better. I expect Beanie to participate a lot more in practice tomorrow. We'll get him some actual reps and provided it goes well we're optimistic he'll have a chance to play Sunday," Whisenhunt said.

Wells was smiling and in a jovial mood when he answered questions about the left hamstring which he said he initially injured during the Redskins game and then aggravated in practice a few days later. 

Wells had never had a hamstring injury before and was frustrated by this one.

"It sucks, but there's nothing you can do about it. It's a hamstring. It's not like I could have avoided it in any type of way," he said.

Beanie admitted it was in his mind a bit today but after loosening up and getting warm it felt fine, "Feels good, looks good (for Sunday)."

In the actual game setting, he feels it will be even less of a mental issue, "You don't think about anything. I think it will probably help it feel better because once the game is started your adrenaline is going so much and pumping and flowing, you don't  think about anything."

Wells is tied for sixth in the NFL with 5.7 yards per carry and has a total of 183 yards in two games.

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Kevin Kolb Thinks He “Took A Step Back” In Seattle, Looks To Rebound Against Giants

The Arizona Cardinals are 1-2 on the young season, coming off of last weekend's disappointing 13-10 loss to the Seattle Seahawks. A combination of errors and bad luck sunk the Cardinals, and quarterback Kevin Kolb acknowledges that. 

"You want to keep moving forward. You don't ever want to take a step back. That game, probably took a step back," Kold told the media on Wednesday.

Kolb threw for a respectable 252 yards on 25-of-39 passing during the game, but had only one touchdown and two interceptions. He averaged 6.5 yards-per-completion, a number that will have to rise in order for the Cardinals to be successful.

The Cardinals brought Kolb to the dessert this past offseason with high hopes, but he's been a mixed bag so far. He is certainly better than the quarterback carousel that Arizona fielded last year, but he has been inconsistent and has only delivered one win in his first three starts.

Kolb knows that he can change things with a win at home against the New York Giants this weekend. In Kolb's words: "Put your nose down and start grinding, that's all you can do." Those are some smart words by the new quarterback. He has a short memory, which should serve him well.

Kolb has started feeling out the professional game as a full-time starter over the past three week, and will be a work in progress for much of this season. It's important to understand this, but every week that passes now will become more and more crucial in determining just how far Kolb can take his team.

The Cardinals need him to perform if they want to make a run at the NFC West title this season, and he will get a chance to step forward after last week's bad outing at home against the Giants.

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

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