“We’ve got to find a way,” Derek Anderson said. “This is getting old.” Indeed it is and it doesn’t seem like the Cardinals have any new solutions. There’s not much to say about the Cardinals’ latest loss, except that it was more of the same. Arizona was easily handled on both sides of the ball as they never really bothered the Chiefs all day.
For the second straight game in a row, the Cardinals started out strong on their first offensive possession. Arizona started on their own 31 yard line and quickly gained 17 yards on a Larry Fitzgerald (6 receptions, 90 yards, 1 TD) catch and run. The Cardinals kept things moving, completing passes to Steve Breaston (5 receptions, 92 yards) and Fitzgerald again. Arizona drove down to the Chiefs’ 18 yard line where they faced a 3rd and 8. Derek Anderson (25/46, 295 yards, 1 TD) missed down the right sideline to Early Doucet (2 receptions, 13 yards) with a pass that probably should have been caught by Doucet as it went through his outstretched hands. The Cards had to settle for a field goal, taking an early 3-0 lead. They would never hold the lead again.
Surprisingly, the Arizona defense held strong all throughout the first quarter, forcing the Chiefs to punt on their only two possessions. In the second quarter, however, Kansas City roared to life by putting up two touchdowns on consecutive possessions. The first score came on a 1-yard touchdown pass from Matt Cassel (15/24, 193 yards, 2 TDs) to Dwayne Bowe (6 receptions, 109 yards, 2 TDs). Arizona gave the Chiefs a short field and Cassel quickly went to work at the Cards’ 38 yard line. In one play, Cassel competed a 37 yard pass to Bowe after he beat Paris Lenon, which put Kansas City on the Cards’ one yard line. Arizona held tough for two downs, but on third down, the Chiefs hit pay dirt when Cassel went to his guy Bowe on a 1-yard completion, beating Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie on a quick slant. After another Cardinals punt, the Chiefs struck again. This time, the Chiefs drove 78 yards on 5 plays before Thomas Jones (15 carries, 71 yards, 2 TDs) pounded it in on a 1 yard up and over. The Chiefs took a commanding 14-3 lead and the game was never in contention after 10:14 in the second quarter.
Arizona was able to add a field goal in the third quarter and a meaningless touchdown with no time left in the game when Anderson hooked up with Fitzgerald. The Chiefs added two more touchdowns and a field goal before it was all over making the final score 31-13. Thomas Jones and Dwayne Bowe each picked up additional touchdowns on the ground and through the air respectively. Bowe has been on an absolute tear for Kansas City as of late, recording 10 touchdowns in his last six games, which is a Kansas City franchise record.
Offensively, the Cardinals were doomed after their first possession. Derek Anderson continued to show why he’s not a starting quarterback. Although his mistakes didn’t show up in the box score, he cost the Cardinals points once again. Anderson missed no fewer than five wide open targets by either firing the ball into the ground or sailing it way overhead. One was on an absolutely wide open Steve Breaston who beat his defender by about four or five steps down the seem. Anderson threw the ball about 10-15 yards over Breaston’s head.
Tim Hightower and Beanie Wells had a decent day on the ground, but they only combined for 20 carries. Hightower gained 62 yards on just 12 carries with a 16 yard long around right end. Wells, who made his return from knee swelling, gained 39 yards on just 8 carries with a 12 yard long up the middle. Hightower and Wells averaged 5.2 and 4.9 yards/carry respectively, but Arizona trailed for most of the game, which made the running attack an afterthought. It’s too bad because the running backs played quite well and Arizona proved they could run on the Chiefs. Whenever the Cards gained some ground, though, they shot themselves in the foot whether it was a false start, a holding penalty or an errant pass from Anderson. “Good football teams don’t do (that),” coach Ken Whisenhunt said. “And right now we are not playing like a good football team…[but] I think we were pleased with what we were able to get accomplished in the run game. If there is one area we can have a little bit of hope in I think that is it because we ran the football a little better.”
Defensively, the Cardinals weren’t able to continue on their stout first quarter effort. Eventually the Chiefs proved to be too much for the Cardinals’ secondary to keep up with. Dwayne Bowe time and again came wide open, usually over the middle, and poor tackling once again allowed for yards after the catch. Matt Cassel, unlike Anderson, didn’t miss once during the game. In addition, Thomas Jones and Jamaal Charles eventually wore on the Cardinals up front. The Chiefs finished with 352 total yards, 159 on the ground and 193 through the air.
The rest of the NFC West lost this week so the Cardinals didn’t lose any ground in relation to the rest of the division. It seems like a moot point, though. Arizona appears incapable of snapping its 5-game losing streak. Unfortunately, things are really turning sour in Arizona. “I feel this is the lowest we can go,” Steve Breaston dejectedly explained. “You have a Monday night game, national TV, better show up there. If you don’t show up there, we’re going to be embarrassed on national TV.” The Monday night game is against the other bottom scrapper in the West, the 49ers.
- WR, Early Doucet (head) – possible concussion
- LB, Will Davis (ankle) – day-to-day
- DE, Calais Campbell (ankle) – day-to-day
AROUND THE NFC WEST:
- 1 – Seattle Seahawks: 5-5, 0 GB, Last Week: L @ New Orleans, 34-19
- 2 – St. Louis Rams: 4-6, 1 GB, Last Week: L vs. Atlanta, 34-17
- 3 – San Francisco 49ers: 3-7, 2 GB, Last Week: L vs. Tampa Bay, 21-0
- 3 – Arizona Cardinals: 3-7, 2 GB, Last Week: L @ Kansas City, 31-13
Arizona (3-7) will host the 49ers (3-7) on Monday Night Football. It will be the two teams’ first meeting of the season. Amazingly, if the Cardinals win and the Seahawks lose, Arizona would only be one game out of first place, though they would be 1.5 games below .500. That’s how bad the NFC West is this year.