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Loss Becomes QB Audition

Posted Dec 5, 2010

Skelton makes debut as Cards fall to Rams, 19-6; Whisenhunt undecided on starter

Cardinals quarterback John Skelton looks downfield to receiver Larry Fitzgerald during Sunday's 19-6 loss to the Rams at University of Phoenix Stadium.


The storyline was set as soon as John Skelton entered the game Sunday, because at that point, there was little else to discuss.

The Cardinals lost to the St. Louis Rams, 19-6, at University of Phoenix Stadium as the Cards went through all three quarterbacks on the roster, including the first appearance from Skelton, the much-talked-about fifth-round pick from Fordham.

The defense played better, but the offense again couldn’t score enough, not with Derek Anderson, or Max Hall – who dislocated his left shoulder and could be lost for the balance of the season, depending on his prognosis – or Skelton.

So with that as the backdrop, starting quarterback was really all there was to consider.

“You can’t put everything on the quarterback – there are a lot of different issues,” defensive end Calais Campbell said. “It’s hard, period. You lose seven games in a row, I’ve never been in this situation in my life ever. It’s a different kind of experience.”

Coach Ken Whisenhunt said he did not know who his starting quarterback was going to be, although “something’s got to change” for the Cardinals (3-9).

Anderson was 7-for-20 for 93 yards and an interception before being pulled for Hall with 3:54 left in the third quarter. Whisenhunt said he felt he “had to make the change” but added that he didn’t think Anderson was himself after taking some hits in the first half.

“He didn’t seem right in the second half,” Whisenhunt said, and Anderson – who was not available for comment -- will be tested for a concussion.

Hall struggled in his brief showing, completing 1-of-3 passes for 10 yards, getting sacked twice and throwing an interception. On the second sack, Hall fumbled, and while he recovered the ball, he hurt the shoulder. Hall said he thought it would be three or four weeks before he would get back.

With four games left, it would seem to leave Hall out of the equation, and certainly in the short-term. Skelton’s time began impressively, with back-to-back completions to Steve Breaston (22 yards) and Larry Fitzgerald (19 yards), although penalties stalled that drive.

Skelton ended up 3-for-6 for 45 yards and Whisenhunt ended up declining to say what will happen with the position.

“I don’t know right now (who will start),” Whisenhunt said. “We’ll see how it goes this week.”

Skelton simply said he’d be ready and “regardless whether they tell me I am starting, I am going to prepare all week as if I am going to play.”

Anderson actually started well. He hit Fitzgerald for a 16-yard gain on the game’s first play, and marched the Cardinals to a pair of field goals on their first two possessions. But yet again, the offense wasn’t putting the ball in the end zone, and that eventually made a difference.

Defensively, the Cardinals held up much better than the previous few games, but by the time the game reached halftime, St. Louis – which snapped an eight-game losing streak to the Cardinals – held a 9-6 lead.

Safety Kerry Rhodes did pick off Rams quarterback Sam Bradford to start out the second half, giving the Cards sweet field position at the St. Louis 46-yard line. Three plays and two Anderson incompletions later, the Cards had gained no yards and were forced to punt.

The Rams (6-6) answered with an 85-yard touchdown drive that seemed to kill off the Cards’ hopes given the offensive problems. Anderson led one more three-and-out before being removed and the quarterback carousel began.

“It’s not a situation you want to go in to, but at the same time, it’s live action and something I have been waiting for for a while,” Skelton said.

The Rams had just 288 yards total and Bradford – who was 18-of-29 for 187 yards – felt his team could have put the Cards away earlier. But riding Steven Jackson (102 yards rushing on 28 carries) was enough.

“Our effort was much better, but in the end it wasn’t good enough,” defensive tackle Darnell Dockett said.

That’s why quarterback was the topic of choice. The big picture isn’t as interesting.

“It hurts,” running back Tim Hightower said. “God it hurts. I hate losing. I can speak for the rest of my teammates, we hate losing. (To be) 3-9, that’s nine losses. It stinks. We’re not playing good football, we’re not scoring. We’re not doing a lot of things and we’re not winning.”
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