ATLANTA -- For a moment,
“The defense caused six turnovers and you don’t come out with a win, that’s … that’s …” Fitzgerald said, considering his next thought. “I’ve never seen it before. It’s really disheartening.”
There weren’t a whole lot of words needed to paint the picture of Sunday’s 23-19 loss to the Atlanta Falcons. The facts alone made the story. The Cardinals didn’t get behind until the final seven minutes of the game. The defense harassed the Falcons all day, intercepting Atlanta quarterback Matt Ryan a career-high five times and also recovering a spectacular fumble.
But in a game before which coach Ken Whisenhunt promised that changes were coming, the offense endured the biggest, with rookie
Offensively, the Cardinals (4-6) couldn’t keep up. Five times they started a drive at the Atlanta 35-yard line or closer, and managed one touchdown and two field goals.
“I’m still trying to gather my thoughts,” center
Whisenhunt didn’t declare his starting quarterback for next week’s game against the Rams, and said he needs to watch the video before assessing Lindley’s play.
Changes has been promised, Whisenhunt reiterated, with his team in a losing streak. Until Lindley came in, the biggest news was that veteran safety
“We’re in the business of winning games,” Whisenhunt said. “We’re going to make changes if we feel like that gives us a better chance to win going forward and that’s what we said we were going to do.”
As for the quarterback move, “if you’re going to hold other guys on the team accountable, you have to hold every position,” Whisenhunt added. “It’s not ‘Every position but the quarterback.’ ”
Whisenhunt had enough prior to the Cards’ second field goal, when a
The Cardinals did run the ball better –
Yet it almost was good enough because of the way the defense played. Three of Ryan’s interceptions came in the first quarter, as the Cards got off to the fast start they craved. It covered only nine yards, but the Cardinals’ first drive resulted in a touchdown.
The fumble recovery was memorable, as linebacker Sam Acho poked the ball loose from Falcons running back Jason Snelling near the sideline and cornerback
“We did what we were supposed to do,” Rhodes said. “We wanted to make their life hard. We didn’t do enough.”
The Falcons (9-1) didn’t take the lead until Ryan – who had 296 yards passing but no touchdown throws – led a drive that concluded with a one-yard touchdown run with a little more than six minutes to go. The Cards’ offense couldn’t answer, but the defense did, with Acho grabbing a tipped pass for yet another Ryan turnover.
The Cardinals got the ball on the Atlanta 32, and managed to get to third-and-2. But a Stephens-Howling sweep didn’t gain anything. On fourth down, trailing by four and with only 3:13 left, Lindley found Fitzgerald down the left sideline in one-on-one coverage.
Fitzgerald got his hands on the ball and came down with two feet – but as he fell down and hit the turf out of bounds, the ball popped loose. Unable to maintain control through the end of the catch (the NFL rule), it was incomplete.
“I’ve just got to hang on to it,” said Fitzgerald, who was targeted seven times but had just one catch for 11 yards. “I’ve made that play plenty of times in my career.”
Johnson and cornerback
“I’m just glad we still won,” Ryan said. “As a quarterback you don’t ever want to have one of those games, but they happen.”
That’s the way the Cardinals are going to have to win games, however, just as they had earlier in the season. The losing streak has reached six, a number that seemed incomprehensible earlier in the season. Running back
“If we could get our offense to match our defense,” Skelton said, “we’d be tough to stop.”