Week 10 Recap: Cards get Thumped by Hawks, 36-18

You could say that Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie (pictured above) pretty much summed up the Cardinals' effort in Sunday's loss to Seattle, but it was honestly more like laying down than sitting up

If you’ve been a Cardinals fan since before the 2007 season, you’ve seen some rough games and weathered some rough seasons.  Arizona’s Week 10 display against the first place Seahawks recalled those days not only in game planning and execution, but in effort.  Larry Fitzgerald (7 receptions, 91 yards) remembers that old sinking feeling all too well.  “Losing four games in a row is not something I wanted to ever experience again,” Fitzgerald remarked.  “I’ve done it in the past and I know how bitter a taste it leaves in your mouth.”

Bitter indeed.  The Cardinals dropped to 3-6 with the loss and have all but ended their aspirations for a third straight NFC West title; they haven’t won since Week 5 against the New Orleans Saints.  The Seahawks (5-4) grabbed sole possession of first place as the 49ers (3-6) defeated the Rams (4-5) in OT by the score of 23-20.

The game started out promising enough for the Cardinals.  Arizona marched right down the field on a 5-play, 52 yard drive capped off by a two-yard touchdown plunge by Tim Hightower (13 carries, 39 yards, 1 TD).  The Cardinals didn’t have to go very far because LaRod Stephens-Howling, who unfortunately suffered a hamstring pull, set the Cardinals up with a 52 yard return on the opening kick off.  Derek Anderson (23/45, 322 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT, 72.6 rating) hooked up with Larry Fitzgerald (7 receptions, 91 yards) for a 33 yard completion before Hightower finished it off.  After that, it was all downhill for the Cardinals.

Although Arizona added a field goal and a touchdown, it was never really as close as the 11 point deficit the Cards faced early in the fourth quarter.  The Cardinals’ only hope of drawing even dwindled when Jay Feely was flagged for illegal touching on an onside kick midway through the fourth quarter.  After Seattle tied the score at 7-7 on the Seahawks’ first possession of the game, Seattle dominated the rest of the way.

For a team that had been dominated themselves by a 74-10 margin in their previous two games, the Seahawks put up bawdy numbers against Arizona’s paper thin defense.  Seattle racked up 490 total yards, with 380 through the air and 110 on the ground.  The Seahawks, without their franchise left tackle Russel Okung, was able to physically dominate the Cardinals defensive front, giving quarterback Matt Hasselbeck all the time he needed to pick apart the Cardinals’ defense; Seattle’s running backs ran wild at will all game.

Adrian Wilson‘s performance this season continues to baffle.  The veteran Pro Bowler was constantly out of position due to blown assignments against Seattle.  At one point, Wilson simply threw up his hands in bewilderment as Hasselbeck completed another long pass over Wilson’s head.  Adrian completely stopped playing as the receiver hadn’t even been tackled yet.

Wilson wasn’t alone as there was plenty of blame to spread around.  First year starter Greg Toler was absolutely owned by Seahawks’ receiver Mike Williams, who recorded 7 receptions for 91 yards in the first half alone.  Williams finished the day with 11 receptions for 143 yards.  Kerry Rhodes was lost as well as he seemingly ran around the defensive secondary with no particular direction, failing to help out deep on numerous long completions.

This game, however, goes beyond numbers and execution.  Only one team wanted to play football and it wasn’t the Cardinals.  According to Ken Whisenhunt, though, the team gave it their all.

The guys didn’t quit.  That is not even a question.   I didn’t see it. If you saw something different I will be happy to talk about it with you, but I didn’t see that.

I can’t imagine that Whisenhunt really believes what he’s saying when his players stopped running after ball carries, committed 10 penalties, consistently and completely blew coverage assignments, were physically dominated up front, and played every aspect of the game halfheartedly.  Despite having no quarterback, this team is far too talented to play this badly.  Losing is one thing, but losing in this fashion regardless of the score is quite another.  The team just didn’t want to play anymore.  They wanted the game to be over and it was clear to see.  Obviously, Whisenhunt is covering for his team.  He’s not going to hang them out to dry for a media feeding frenzy.

The Cardinals are going to be hard pressed to convince anyone that they’re still relevant in the playoff picture.  They now sport a 3-6 record with seven games left to play.  They’ve been swept by the Seahawks, which means they would obviously lose the head-to-head if it came to that.  Let’s be honest, though.  There’s no reason to think that the Cardinals are capable of putting a string of wins together.  I’m not saying they won’t win again this season, but to reach .500 they will have to win 5 of their last 7; an extremely tall order given the state of things.

It seems, therefore, that the Cardinals will be in evaluation mode for the balance of the season.  With rough times ahead, it will be interesting to see who puts out and who folds up.  Also, you’d have to believe that Bill Davis isn’t long for his job in Arizona.  The defense has completely collapsed this year and I doubt that Davis will be back next season, though I don’t expect they will fire him before the season’s out.

Injuries:

  • RB, Jason Wright (head): possible concussion, day-to-day
  • RB, LaRod Stephens-Howling (hamstring): day-to-day

Around the NFC West:

  • 1 – Seahawks: 5-4, 0 GB, Last Week: W @ Arizona, 36-18
  • 2 – Rams: 4-5, 1.0 GB, Last Week: L @ San Francisco, 23-10, OT
  • 3 – Cardinals: 3-6, 2.0 GB, Last Week: L vs. Seattle, 36-18
  • 3 – 49ers: 3-6, 2.0 GB, Last Week: W vs. St. Louis, 23-20, OT

Next Week:

This season must go on.  Next week the Cardinals travel to Kansas City to face the Chiefs (5-4) led by Arizona’s former offensive coordinator Todd Haley.


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