The Weather Was Rotten in New England, and So Were the Arizona Cardinals (Except Matt Leinart)
It wasn't the worst defeat in Cardinals history. The worst was a 49-0 ass-kicking by the Kansas City Chiefs in December, 2002.
But it was an ass-kicking, all right.
I know we've said it before, but the Cardinals were really pathetic this time. And it wasn't all about the weather in Foxboro, Massachusetts.
Which couldn't have been worse. Granted, Arizona's professional football team (and we use that term loosely, after Sunday's sorry display) doesn't see much snow, sleat, and frigid rain -- and there were tons of all that -- but, come on!
Kurt Warner, selected for the Pro Bowl the other day, couldn't get anything going. It wasn't all his fault. There was his incompetent offensive line -- which let the defense run all over him for the second week in a row -- his butter-fingered receivers, and his team's shitty running game (brought on by that shitty offensive line).
Yeah, we know, it was cold out there, and it's hard to catch passes when your fingers are frozen and snow's bloowing in your eyes. But it shouldn't affect a team that much. Decent teams from domed stadiums may not find a way to win in such conditions, but they at least don't get embarrassed 47-7.
And it wasn't even that close.
It was another week when the Cardinals were out of it by the end of the first quarter, down 14-0. At half-time, the score was 31-0. Then, the Patriots went easy on Arizona, only scoring 16 in the second half.
The problem with all this is, we had come to believe in the Cardinals under Coach Ken Whisenhunt. We believed The Whis could conjure away the curse on this franchise. After he coached the Cards to wins against Buffalo and Dallas early in the season, we had real hope.
Of course, now we find out that Dallas and Buffalo ain't all that.
The Cardinals also beat Miami in the second game of the season (and the Dolphins have gone on to be 10-5), but Arizona's remaining five wins have been against the NFC Worst, where nobody else in the division even has a winning record.
Truth is, Whisenhunt and his staff were outcoached in every facet of the game by the most loathsome head coach in the NFL. We hate the humorless Bill Belichik, but he does a hell of job. Even after his team was up 31 points, Belichik's yelling at his players for settling for a field goal on their most recent possession.
Remember, Belichik's team's got a 10-5 record behind a backup quarterback, Matt Cassel, who went 20 of 36 for 345 yards and three touchdowns Sunday. Cassel, it should be noted, was Cardinals' backup quarterback Matt Leinart's backup at USC.
My how things change.
Here's a telling statistic: New England's offense was on the field 38.35 minutes of the game to Arizona's 21.25. Whis, when your team doesn't have the ball any more than that, of course you're gonna get blown out.
And when your defense is on the field most of the time, a good team's gonna run up the score on you. This doesn't excuse Arizona's defense, because it sucked Patriots dick. It was as if Cardinals defenders walked out into the snow and just gave up ("We're already in the playoffs; fuck this!"), leaving New England receivers wide open and letting the Pats' offensive line open up holes that Shaq's truck could drive through.
Kurt Warner's put up great numbers this year in his old age, but sometimes we wonder about him. He was hapless throughout this game. leading Arizona to a pathetic 186 yards of total offense (New England had 514). His personal stats aren't worth mentioning, but here goes: 6 for 18 and 30 yards.
Again, you mention the cold, that the Cardinals, who rely almost entirely on their passing game, didn't have a frosty fucking chance. But 30 yards passing from a Pro Bowl QB, a player who was in the league MVP discussion a couple of blowouts ago?!
Sometimes we think Whisenhunt and the Cardinals would've been smarter to go with Matt Leinart as the starter this season. Would they be in exactly the same spot they are today, or in an even better one. Possibly. Whatever, shouldn't they at least be grooming the quarterback of the future, not running their offense through a guy who's living on borrowed time.
Because the team that was on the field Sunday's not going anywhere in the playoffs, home field advantage or not. We can't remember a worse team than the Cardinals ever making the playoffs.
The one bright spot for the Cards in this foul-weather debacle was Leinart. It was gabage time in the fourth quarter before he spelled Warner, but he had far better stats than the starter: 6 of 14 for 138 yards and the team's only touchdown.
He threw two incredible passes -- threading the needle to hit tight end Jerhemy Urban for 28 yards and later connecting on a 78-yard play to wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald for the score. He also threw an intercepton, but it wasn't his fault; a receiver tipped the ball into the hands of a Patriots defender.
These weren't the Cardinals of old Sunday -- except for that team that was shellacked by the Chiefs back in '02, these were worse than the Cardinals of old. -- Rick Barrs
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