Once again the Cardinals fought, but in the end they couldn’t pull it out, losing in Atlanta to the Falcons Sunday 23-19 to drop to 4-6.
The team had to turn to another QB, as rookie Ryan Lindley stepped in for John Skelton. Lindley managed 178 yards in the loss.
Coming off a bye the Cards fell for the sixth straight time, making their 4-0 start seem like an eternity ago.
”We said during the bye week we were going to make changes that we thought necessary, and that’s what we’re going to do going forward,” Arizona coach Ken Whisenhunt said. ”We have to make more plays.”
The Cards had plenty of chances in the contest, as they picked off Falcons QB Matt Ryan five times, but couldn’t take advantage of it.
Michael Turner scored the winning touchdown on a 1-yard run with 6:40 remaining, and Larry Fitzgerald couldn’t hang on to a fourth-down pass that would’ve given the Cardinals a chance to pull it out.
Ryan completed 28 of 48 for 301 yards.
LaRod Stephens-Howling accounted for most of Arizona’s yards, carrying 22 times for 127 yards. Lindley was 9 of 20 for 64 yards. Skelton was benched in the second quarter after going 2 of 7 for 6 yards.
”It’s extremely frustrating,” Cardinals center Lyle Sendlein said. ”If you would have told us yesterday we’d get the ball four or five times on their side of the 50, I’d have said, ‘Yeah, we’re going to beat them, and beat them by a large margin.”
The turnover tone was set on the very first snap.
Ryan threw a little behind White, the ball bouncing off his hands and right into the arms of Arizona safety Rashad Johnson for the interception. He returned it to the Atlanta 9, and the Cardinals punched it in two plays later on a 3-yard run by Stephens-Howling.
On Arizona’s next possession, Stephens-Howling broke off a 40-yard run to set up Feely’s 48-yard field goal. The Falcons were down 10-0 before they even gained a yard.
Ryan threw two more interceptions before the first quarter was done, the second of which led to another field goal by Feely to make it 13-0. But the Falcons rallied to tie it up by halftime, coming up with a huge defensive play after the Cardinals brought in Lindley.
As the rookie dropped back to pass on third down, John Abraham came in from the blind side and got his hand on the ball a split-second before Lindley’s arm came forward.
While both teams mostly stood around, thinking it was an incomplete pass, Abraham motioned for Jonathan Babineaux to pick up it up. The 300-pound tackle did just that, running 15 yards for a stunning touchdown.
”Multiple players told me they heard a whistle,” Whisenhunt insisted.
It was a game that easily could have gone the Cardinals way – instead, it was another setback for a season that is quickly becoming a failure.