To say the Arizona Cardinals played badly yesterday in the team's 41-7 loss to the Atlanta Falcons would be polite. To say the team flat-out sucked would be a more accurate description of the game.
Penalties, like in the first game, were a huge issue for the Cards yesterday. The Cards had 10, including a holding call on defensive end Kenny Iwebema, which brought back a 98-yard kickoff return by LaRod Stephens-Howling in the first half.
In total, penalties cost the Cards 109 yards in the loss.
Even when the team wasn't racking up penalties, it didn't do much to help itself.
New starting Quarterback Derek Anderson didn't exactly have a career day.
Anderson went 17 for 31 in the air, for a total of 161 yards. He also gave up two interceptions and had no touchdowns.
"They beat us up," Anderson said after the game. "We didn't execute on offense. There are a
lot of things we didn't do right. I didn't play as well as I needed to. As a leader, when we're in a lull like that, I need to find a way to rally the guys and find a spark."
The Arizona Republic is already raising the question of whether Whisenhunt should consider
benching Anderson and giving his backup a shot as a starter.
That backup, as you probably know, is not Matt Leinart -- whom the team kicked to the curb in favor of keeping Anderson as the starter. Anderson's backup is rookie Max Hall, who played briefly at the end of the game and gave up an interception.
Most troubling about Anderson's performance is his inability to lead the team to convert on third and fourth downs.
In fact, the Cards were unable to convert a single third down, despite eight chances. They met the same fate the one time they tried to convert on a fourth down, too.
Anderson was able to do one thing he couldn't last week: throw catchable balls to Larry Fitzgerald when he was open.
Fitzgerald and Anderson hooked up seven times in 12 attempts for 83 yards. We're not saying it was like watching Jerry Rice and Joe Montana, but it was certainly an improvement from last week, when Anderson threw to Fitzgerald 15 times with only three receptions.
The Cards only touchdown came on an 80-yard run by Tim Hightower early in the second quarter. At the time, this made the score at 10-7 in favor of the Falcons. After that, the Falcons fired back against a helpless Cards defense.
"We got our butts whipped today," Cardinals defensive end Darnell Dockett said after the game. "Not only did we lose, we got smashed."
Unlike the Cards, the Falcons could convert on third and fourth downs, doing so 12 of 19 times.
Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan easily found his targets, going 21-32 in the air for 225 yards and three touchdowns.
On the ground, the Falcons were equally unstoppable -- even with third-string running back Jason Snelling in the game for the injured Michael Turner and Jerious Norwood.
Snelling cruised through the Cardinals' defense for 129 yards and three touchdowns.
The Cardinals come home to take on the Oakland Raiders next week. Game starts at 1:15 p.m. Click here for the details.
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