Kevin C. Cox
As Rich Eisen put it, the Cardinals were +5 in the turnover margin, but -4 on the scoreboard. A horrible and deflating loss for the team.
If I told you coming into this game that Matt Ryan would throw five interceptions, the Falcons would have six turnovers overall and that John Skelton wouldn't throw an interception to tie Ryan Leaf's record, yet the Cardinals would still fall to the Falcons on the road, would you have believed me?
That is exactly what happened on Sunday and for the Cardinals, this is possibly their most deflating loss of the season. Their 23-19 defeat came on the heels of a bye week and a stellar showing by the Arizona defense. Numerous tipped balls and gritty, heady play led to Matt Ryan's worst day as a pro football quarterback.
But it was the offense that let the team down. John Skelton was replaced in the first half after looking absolutely awful on the field. He missed Larry Fitzgerald for a wide open touchdown in the first quarter, which was all Cardinals coach Ken Whisenhunt could take. At that point, rookie QB Ryan Lindley was inserted into the game.
I thought Lindley actually played a pretty good game given the circumstances. He was not only thrust in to a very tough game against a difficult opponent, but it was his first regular season outing as a pro. He stared down his receivers at times, but he threw fairly accurate passes and kept a couple of drives going.
The running game actually looked decent for once, as LaRod Stephens-Howling rushed the ball for 127 yards and a touchdown on the day.
Missed chances were what killed the Cardinals. They had multiple chances to put touchdowns on the board after the defense managed to create turnovers, but were most of the time held to field goals or nothing at all. Both Skelton and Lindley missed some easy opportunities to punch the ball past the goal line, but to no avail.
Who will be the quarterback next week? Can the team recover from such a huge loss? Cant he team break out of their six game slide? These are the questions Coach Whisenhunt will be dealing with postgame. And these are the questions Cardinals fans will be asking as the team prepares for the St. Louis Rams, the team that got their losing ways started.