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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.
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.
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.
We break down the three failed first half red zone attempts and other big moments from the Arizona Cardinals loss to the Washington Redskins.
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.
The Arizona Cardinals started the game against the New York Giants with some great defensive work. They also had some offensive success, but because of missed opportunities, they had to settle for a pair of Jay Feely field goals.
With the first offensive possession of the game, Calais Campbell forced a fumble that Arizona recovered. However, the offense could not move the ball and settled with a field goal.
Another two trips to the red zone for the Cardinals ended in disappointing fashion. One ended in a Kevin Kolb fumble, who was hit by Osi Umenyiora and lost the ball, but tried to scoop it up and run with it instead of falling on it.
The other trip was when they marched down the field 80 yards. After a nine-yard run by Beanie Wells there was an incomplete pass and then Wells was stuffed on third and one. Feely hit another field goal.
Unfortunately after that, the Arizona defense was unable to keep the Giants offense in check. New York responded with a 10-play, 69 yard drive that ended with an Ahmad Bradshaw touchdown run.
New York added a field goal at the end of the half when Arizona had a terrible offensive sequence in which they ran the ball to keep the clock moving, did not hurry to get a play off, only to have Kolb throw the ball away on third down to stop the clock and then have to punt to the Giants instead of having more time run off.
On the bright side, the Arizona defense is not playing terribly and Beanie Wells is running well -- 12 carries for 54 yards.
The game is very much in reach, but plays will have to be made and the mental errors will need to be minimized.
Join the conversation with other Cardinals fans in the game thread on Revenge of the Birds
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.
The Arizona Cardinals (1-2) and New York Football Giants (2-1) are about to kickoff their NFL Week 4 match-up at University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, AZ. The Giants are a 2.5 point favorite going into the game, a line in part driven by injury questions for both teams.
The Cardinals running back Beanie Wells missed last week's game in Seattle due to a hamstring injury but was confident all week that he would be able to play. He was officially questionable on Friday as was KR/RB LaRod Stephens-Howling (hand) and WR Chansi Stuckey (hamstring).
TE Todd Heap (ribs), LB Paris Lenon (groin) were both probably while TE Jim Dray (pectoral) was ruled out as of Friday. Backup quarterback John Skelton (ankle) practiced all week but is inactive for this game, firmly putting him behind Richard Bartel in the depth chart.
With the official pregame roster out we now know that Wells and Stephens-Howling are both active while Stuckey is not. Also inactive are WR Stephen Williams, CB Korey Lindsey, T D'Anthony Batiste, TE Jim Dray and DE Ronald Talley.
For the Giants, DE Justin Tuck (groin, neck) was listed as questionable on Friday as was DE Osi Umenyiora (knee) who hasn't played yet this season. WR Mario Manningham (concussion) and WR Hakeem Nicks (knee) were both probably coming into the game.
Justin Tuck is not active for the game along with local product, rookie CB Prince Amukamara who broke his foot. Other Giants inactives are RB Da'Rel Scott, G Mitch Petrus, LT James Brewer, WR Michael Clayton, and WR Brandon Stokley.
After back-to-back tough losses, the Arizona Cardinals (1-2) are looking to get back on track. The New York Giants, a team fresh off a big victory over the Eagles to move to 2-1 on the season, don't always play the prettiest brand of football, but they've figured out a way to get it done in 2011.
Here is all of the game day information you will need for Sunday's matchup:
Kickoff: 4:05 ET / 1:05 PT
Television: FOX; Kenny Albert has the play-by-play duties, Daryl Johnston will serve as the analyst, and Tony Siragusa will be the sideline reporter.
Radio: News Talk 92.3 FM: Dave Pasch, Ron Wolfley, Paul Calvisi (local)
Sports USA Radio: Bob Fitzgerald, John Robinson, Tony Graziani (national)
Cardinals Spanish Radio (KMIA 710 AM): Gabril Trujillo, Rolando Cantu
Betting Line: The Giants will be 1 1/2 point favorites on Sunday.
TEMPE -- Arizona Cardinals running back Beanie Wells was officially listed as questionable for Sunday's home game against the New York Giants with a hamstring injury after being limited in Friday's practice. Apparently, however, coach Ken Whisenhunt saw enough of his lead ball carrier to say he believes Wells will be ready.
"We'll still work him out before the game, but I still feel very optimistic he'll be able to play," Whisenhunt said after Friday's practice.
Wells is the Cardinals' leading rusher and his return would be a major boost for the 1-2 Cardinals, but the run game could also be bolstered by the return of backup RB LaRod Stephens-Howling, who has missed the past two games with a hand injury. Stephens-Howling was also limited in practice Friday and is listed as questionable.
Whisenhunt said he also expects Stephens-Howling to be able to play this Sunday.
The Cardinals seek their first win since Week 1, and all of their games have been close. Whisenhunt said there are both teachable moments and frustration to be taken from the one-point loss at Washington and three-point loss at Seattle.
"Very frustrating, because you have an expectation of being successful. Frustrating because we made some mistakes that kept us from being successful," Whisenhunt said. "Those are things that you can fix. The only thing I can say of it is I hope we learn from it so that when we get in that situation again, we'll be successful.
"If we make mistakes Sunday, it'll be a tough day," he added.
The Cardinals will be challenged by the Giants' offense, with a cadre of banged-up but effective-when-able receivers. Quarterback Eli Manning has a lot of targets to which to throw, both inside and deep down the field. The Giants are also known for their power running game and two-headed running back system of Ahmad Bradshaw and Brandon Jacobs.
"It's going to be mano-a-mano and then you just have to be careful of Eli trying to throw the ball over your head," Cardinals defensive coordinator Ray Horton said.
Horton also talked about how the staff helped linebacker O'Brien Schofield "get on the same page" by making him wear a wristband with defensive calls on it, like a quarterback with plays.
"I explained to him, 'Guys in Pittsburgh did the same thing, until they learned the defense,'" Horton said. "There's nothing wrong with that. It's just kind of a cheat sheet."
Horton said Schofield had clarity of understanding what the coaches have been trying to tell him in the Seattle game last week.
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.
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.
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.
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.
"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."
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.
The pro-bowl defensive end rode the exercise bikes for the second day in a row according to Giants insider Ralph Vacchiano. Tuck has been dealing with both a sore neck and a strained groin after last weeks game with Philadelphia, injuries that could leave him on the shelf against the Cardinals this weekend. Friday's practice will likely be the determining factor in determining Tuck's playing status, but If doesn't suit up this Sunday Osi Umenyiora will be ready and waiting. Osi took part in practice for the second straight day, and will more than likely be ready for the Cardinals.
Meanwhile in the offensive department, receiver Hakeem Nicks left with an injury but wasn't fully diagnosed yet. He hyper-extended his knee a few weeks ago, which could have flared up. Receiver Brandon Stokley, who suffered a strained quad in practice Wednesday, might be kept from seeing playing time this weekend as well as the strain is worse than originally thought. Receiver Mario Manningham returned to practice after missing nine days with a concussion, which couldn't have come at a better time for New York with their other targets currently ailing.
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.
The Arizona Cardinals released their injury report, and it was filled with all the usual suspects.
Here's the injury report for the New York Giants.
The Arizona Cardinals hope to avoid a 1-3 start to the season when they host the New York Giants on Sunday in a big Week 4 game for both teams. The Giants are 2-1 coming into the game with wins over the Eagles and Rams.
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