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Cards Hope To Take Their Time

Posted Sep 15, 2012

Deliberate offense in New England would help slow Patriots' offense

Wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald needs three catches Sunday to reach 700 for his career.

PROVIDENCE, R.I. -- The no-huddle touchdown drive of Kevin Kolb might have provided the game-winning points in the Cardinals’ season opener, but it was the team’s first pair of scoring drives in that game that could have more relevance on the team’s trip to New England.

The Patriots (1-0) are known for an offense that can operate at a breakneck pace – the kind of pace that might not work in the best interest of the Cardinals (1-0).

“That’s what they try to get you to do,” center Lyle Sendlein said.

Against Seattle, the Cards lost a fumble on just the second play of the game. After that, though, quarterback John Skelton took the offense on a pair of deliberate drives, lasting 13 and 11 plays, respectively. The first covered 75 yards before dying on the Seattle 3-yard line and ending on a Jay feely field goal. The second was 58 yards and ended with the first touchdown of the game.

The Cardinals ate up more than 12 minutes of the clock on those two possessions alone. To bring some drives like that against the Patriots would be perfect.

“As an offense we are trying to score points,” Sendlein said. “If we score on a nine-minute drive or we score on the first play, it doesn’t matter to us. We’d like to keep the ball and keep it out of their hands. It’s more conducive to our defense if we keep them off the field.”

With everyone waiting to see what quarterback Kevin Kolb can do in his follow-up to last week’s dramatics, the Cards’ defense will be in the spotlight too.

New England quarterback Tom Brady is, well, Tom Brady. The Patriots’ offense has been explosive for a few years now, with Brady able to incorporate tight ends Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez toward mismatch nightmares. The Patriots finally seem to have found a quality workhorse running back in Steven Ridley, and have a new wide receiver Brandon Lloyd.

And on top of that, star slot receiver Wes Welker (three catches for 14 yards) was barely a factor last week after leading the NFL in receptions last season. The Patriots still scored 34 points in Tennessee.

“In the NFL generally these are high-octane offenses we are facing nowadays,” said cornerback William Gay, who has faced the Patriots multiple times while playing for the Steelers. “As a defensive player, you have to get your mindset there. It might be 60-40 (percent) pass or 70-30 pass. But that’s what we work on every day, regardless of the opponent.

“Our mind is getting off the field, no deep balls, hitting the quarterback and stopping the run. I don’t care what offense you face, you’ve got to do that.”

New England coach Bill Belichick spent the week praising – and overpraising – the Cards, although if the Patriots have shown a weakness, it’s if a team can generate a pass rush up the middle and disrupt Brady’s timing.

“They have some impact players, some guys you absolutely have to handle on every play or they will just ruin the game,” Belichick said.

Still, the Cardinals are going to need to score some points. The Patriots’ defense is vastly improved, and Belichick hasn’t lost his reputation as a defensive tactician.

“He’s like a CIA operative,” Kolb said. “You can’t give him anything because he’s looking at it.”

The Cardinals have to find a way to get past a New England defense that gave up just 20 rushing yards in the opener with a run game that provided just 23 yards total from Beanie Wells and Ryan Williams. They need to protect Kolb, and Kolb must remain as confident in the pocket as he was against Seattle.

If those things don’t work, it’s going to be very difficult for the Cardinals to have many of those dreamed-about long drives.

“That’s why they win a lot of football games, because people get impatient,” Kolb said. “I think that’s a part of their scheme. They have a lot of faith in, of course, their Hall of Fame quarterback and their offense. It has worked for them, and it worked last week. We’ll try to break that.”


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