TSN TV Schedule TSN2 TV Schedule
NFL

Cardinals bumbling away defence's dominance

{eot}
Associated Press
10/22/2012 6:17:51 PM
Decrease Text SizeIncrease Text Size
Text Size

TEMPE, Ariz. -- The Arizona Cardinals did just enough on offence to get by the first month of the season, riding one of the NFL's stingiest defences to their best start in 38 years.

Not even their defence has been good enough to overcome the offensive ineptitude lately.

Unable to protect whichever quarterback is healthy or get out of their own way, Arizona's offence has sputtered during a losing streak that reached three games with Sunday's stuck-in-the-mud 21-14 loss at Minnesota.

"We think the defence is doing a great job, they've put us in position to win every single game," Cardinals guard Daryn Colledge said Monday. "We owe it to them to play better football."

Arizona's defence has certainly held its own.

The Cardinals (4-3) have the NFL's fourth-best scoring defence, allowing 16.9 points per game, and they're seventh in total defence, giving up just over 312 yards. Arizona has 22 sacks, two behind league leader Green Bay, and has had a knack for coming up with big plays, forcing eight interceptions and seven fumbles, including one returned for a touchdown.

With numbers like that, all the offensive really has to do is make a couple of plays and avoid big mistakes.

They did just that early in the season, opening 4-0 for the first time since 1974, 14 years before the franchise moved from St. Louis to the desert.

Over the past three games, Arizona's offence turned it over too many times, allowed way too many sacks, been unable to come up with plays downfield or when in scoring position.

The Cardinals have scored 33 points during their three-game losing streak and overall have given up an NFL-high 35 sacks, including 29 the past four games.

"It kind of feels like we're not handling our side of the ball," Cardinals running back LaRod Stephens-Howling said. "The defence is playing great, the special teams are playing great, we just need to pick it up and score points."

Injuries are certainly a part of Arizona's offensive struggles.

Quarterback John Skelton, who won a tight battle with Kevin Kolb to open the season as the starter, sprained his left ankle in Arizona's opener against Seattle. Kolb took over the next five games, only to go down with chest and rib injuries in an overtime loss to Buffalo two weeks ago -- the same day Skelton was back in uniform.

Running back Ryan Williams is out for the season after suffering a shoulder injury against St. Louis on Oct. 4. Beanie Wells has played three games and is out until at least Thanksgiving with a turf toe injury. Stephens-Howling missed two games with a hip injury and returned against the Bills.

Tight end Todd Heap hasn't played since the opener due to a knee injury and left tackle Levi Brown is out for the season with a triceps injury.

The attrition has led to plenty of shuffling and moving players into unfamiliar roles.

"That's the NFL, you face that," Cardinals coach Ken Whisenhunt said. "You don't have 90 (players) like you do in training camp, you only have a 53-man roster, and part of our continuity on offence is struggling because of that. You can't use it as an excuse. You've got to move forward."

All Arizona's offence had to do was move forward just a little against Minnesota after the defence held the Vikings to 209 total yards.

They couldn't do it.

The Cardinals started four possessions on the Vikings' side of the field in the first half and came away with one touchdown -- set up by an interception by the defence inside the 20-yard line. Arizona failed to get a first down on two of the drives and Jay Feely missed a 47-yard field goal on the other.

The Cardinals' beleaguered offensive also had a hard time keeping the Vikings' pass rush away from Skelton, who was sacked seven times and spent most of the day throwing off the run.

Skelton ended up with two of the game's biggest gaffes, losing a fumble with Arizona in position for at least a field goal and throwing an interception that Minnesota safety Harrison Smith returned 31 yards for a touchdown.

"We can't make those kinds of mistakes where we are as a team right now," Whisenhunt said.

The Cardinals need to clean it up quick. They play NFC West-leading San Francisco on Monday night and have games against Green Bay and Atlanta coming up.

Patrick Peterson (Photo: Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)

zoom

(Photo: Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)
Share This

Share This

Add to FacebookAdd to DiggAdd to FarkAdd to TwitterAdd to Stumble UponAdd to Reddit
Print this Story

NFL Top Prospects

Take a look at each prospect's average draft position and most likely landing spot based in TSN.ca's Mock Draft ADP. More...


TSN Digital's Mock Draft | Top prospects; Canadians



Missouri All-American Michael Sam says he is gay, and the defensive end could become the first openly homosexual player in the NFL.


Check out ReOrientation - TSN's special three-part feature examining athletics and homosexuality.


More about ReOrientation

Podcasts

TSN 1050: TSN Drive with Dave Naylor: April 15 - Tim Graham

Tim Graham provides an update on the potential sale of the Buffalo Bills , Donald Trump, when a new stadium will be built, and more.

TSN 1050: NFL Tonight: Andy McNamara and Carlan Gay: April 6th

Andy Mac and Carlan Gay break down the latest news in the NFL.

TSN 1050: NFL Tonight - Andrew Garda- March 27th

Andy McNamara chats with Andrew Garda, Bleacher Report NFL lead writer about Johnny Manziel, college quarterbacks, and NFL Free Agency.


More Podcasts

© 2014
All rights reserved.
Bell Media Television