The Arizona Cardinals lost to the Atlanta Falcons, 19-23. The game was as close as the score indicates. The Cardinals defense harassed, pressured and punished Matt Ryan from the beginning of the game until the end.
It was amazing that the Cardinals found a way to lose the game. How often do you see a team intercept the ball 5 times, and get a forced fumble, but somehow lose? It's simple: blame the quarterback, or in the Cardinals case -quarterback(S).
Both of the quarterbacks that played were horrible. John Skelton had his first crack against the Falcons defense. The coaches only had to watch him throw the ball 7 times, and only complete 2 of those passes for 6 yards, before they figured he wasn't going to get the job done. He was pulled when he missed throws that even Kevin Kolb would have made.
Now, Ryan Lindley got his first taste of action in this game, and he didn't show anything that should make the Rams nervous. Out of his 9 completions, 2 passes made me say that was a nice throw. If it was Kevin Kolb playing, I would say he would've connected on around 15 of Lindley's 20 passes. He played like a rookie in this game.
Cardinals offensive line
Well, the offensive line played better then they did against the St. Louis Rams, when they allowed 9 sacks. This game, they only allowed 3 sacks. However, the defense was in the quarterback's face constantly. The offensive line is still a weak link for this team.
The run blocking wasn't that much better. I would say that the offensive line gave the running backs some room to run, but there weren't many holes opened up by this unit.
LaRod Stephens-Howling is the only player on the offense who produced. On 22 carries, he rushed for 127 yards and one touchdown. I know what you're thinking: "Tevin, his offensive line had to have play well?" I would have to say you are wrong.
A quote from Tyler Nickel, writer at Revenge Of The Birds:
As Silva notes, Stephens-Howling only managed to gain 1.86 yards per carry outside of his two long runs. One was for 52 yards (his career long, surprisingly) and the other was a 38 yard carry. The only thing incorrect about Silva's tweet is that he averaged 1.86 yards on his other 20 touches, not 22.
He's the same type of back as the Rams rookie running back Daryl Richardson. If he get's to the second level he can hit a home run, but he won't make too many plays between the tackles.
I was impressed by the Cards defense. They played well enough for their team to have won, and held the Falcons to 24 points. While that is a lot, the defense created key turnovers that should have won the game for them.
The Cardinals forced Matt Ryan to throw interceptions by bringing pressure, early and often. He should have thrown 6 or 7 interceptions, but the defense dropped them; these interceptions weren't luck, they were forced. Also, the Cardinals recovered a sweet fumble in the air, which was going out of bounds, until the defender caught it and threw it back into the field of play.
Even without the turnovers, the defense played a good game. They held their two running backs to 70 yards on 20 carries, with Michael Turner's longest run for the Falcons being 10 yards.