After nearly not selling out on opening day, after a lackluster training camp, after a quiet off-season, and after winning the NFC Championship, the Arizona Cardinals are finally back.
We don't just mean that it's football season again, we mean that the Cardinals are back to playing, well, like the commiserable Cardinals of old, and not like that hard-to-fathom team that nearly won the Super Bowl last season.
In yesterday's 20-16 loss to the San Francisco 49ers, the Cardinals paid testament to the Cardinals' heartbreaking, and almost pathetic, performances Phoenicians have grown to expect since the team came to the desert in 1988.
Aside from a brief flurry of good drives in the third quarter, the Cardinals played sloppy, unorganized, and flat out stupid football for the majority of the loss.
The Cards committed 12 penalties, eight of which came before halftime, and Kurt Warner looked like he'd be more comfortable back riding the pine for the Iowa Barnstormers than throwing from the pocket.
"That's horrible," says coach Ken Whisenhunt. "That's unacceptable, and that's what causes you to lose football games. I said to the team afterward, 'Guys who get penalties are not going to play.' "
Warner, the Father Time of football, threw two interceptions, one of which was a blooper directly into the hands of San Fran defensive back Nate Clements.
"We're just not meshing," Warner says. "We all seem to be taking our turn, and we never seem to get into a rhythm. It's a lot more work than it should be."
It took the Cards well into the second quarter to convert on a single third down, and the offensive line was simply overmatched, and allowed three sacks.
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At halftime, the Cardinals had managed to put six points on the board, all on the foot of kicker Neil Rackers, and the only time they managed to make it to the end zone came as a result of a 5-yard Larry Fitzgerald touchdown.
There is a silver lining; unlike the offense, the defense didn't make you want to rip the hair right out of your head.
The Cards' defense held the Niners to 21 rushing yards and only 203 total yards.
The defense sacked 49ers quarterback Shaun Hill four times, but couldn't manage to reel in an interception all day.