So if the Cards were sitting there, lamenting for weeks the things they didn’t capitalize upon or messed up in that season-opening 20-16 loss to the 49ers, what are they going to do about Monday night’s whiff knowing they have to gnaw on it until next season?
Ugh. It’s the middle of the night on the charter flight home, and even with a few hours to consider what happened, it’s still difficult to wrap your head around this 24-9 loss. I’ll step to the front of the line asking for a mulligan; I never saw this coming and was very confident the Cards would end up winning the rematch with the Niners. I was wrong. Very, very wrong.
In the big picture, it likely means little. Sure, it could undercut the Cards if they are trying for the No. 3 seed in the NFC but that doesn’t mean a whole lot. They likely weren’t going to have a shot at the No. 2 seed anyway, and make no mistake, the Cards are still going to win the NFC West (maybe next week, when the Cards go to Detroit and the 49ers have to play in Philly).
Still, the what-could-have-been. The 49ers will celebrate their sweep, but the Cardinals will see a team that barely beat them despite major mistakes. Said running back Beanie Wells will equal parts exasperation and disgust, “Seven turnovers and they beat us by two touchdowns. We killed ourselves.”
You’d figure a team with seven turnovers would romp, but if it wasn’t for that last Beanie fumble to set up another TD, the Cards were going to have a shot to tie it, I do believe. What would that have been like (hmmm, a team overcoming major turnovers to win on Monday night … it vaguely rings a bell).
– Here’s a good example of the Cards’ pain: The 49ers scored touchdowns on “drives” of eight and 16 yards, and got a field goal on a “drive” of eight yards. You can’t turn the ball over, but you really can’t turn the ball over to a mediocre offense in position to get easy touchdowns.
– Kurt Warner looked like he was baited into his first interception. On that play, the 49ers had three down linemen and then only rushed two, meaning nine men had dropped into coverage. Yet Warner threw a deep pattern to Steve Breaston soon – as if there was normal pressure on the pocket – and safety Dashon Goldson simply waited back and made an easy pick. The second interception was tough, because Warner thought Anquan Boldin was going to keep going and he instead crashed into defensive back Tarell Brown. Brown could have been flagged for illegal contact, but since he was really going after the ball, he seemed exempt.
– You have to wonder if LT Mike Gandy took a step back with his pelvis injury. He came out early like he did against Tennessee, and it did look like he was having some trouble against the Niner pass rushers. Since Gandy came out, you have to assume it was the injury that was doing him in, but I guess only the coaches know for sure.
– For a grudge match against a bitter rival on national TV, there were sure a lot of empty seats at Candlestick Park.
– If safety Matt Ware is indeed out long-term, that hurts a lot. Ware had been pretty solid on defense and allowed the Cards to do so many other things with Adrian Wilson especially. And rookie Rashad Johnson just doesn’t look ready to step into that role yet.
– DL Darnell Dockett showed some incredible athleticism, not only on the play where he tipped and then made the interception, but when he batted another pass later when Alex Smith caught it himself for a six-yard loss. Dockett showed serious hops . Must be those squats of 400-plus pounds building up his leg muscles.
– The Cards did have a clunker, and as Warner said, “unfortunately we have had a few of these around here, and that’s the most disappointing part. You keep hoping we are over these games where we are on a big high and play great and then come back and play like we did tonight. It’s disappointing but we still have a lot in front of us.”
– We finish with a little positive then. Beanie Wells was very good, all the way up until his fumble. The Cards tried to come back to Tim Hightower last week after his fumble and it worked, but I am guessing it wasn’t a coincidence that Hightower didn’t have a carry Monday after his fumble (although Beanie was running so well, Whisenhunt may have just been sticking with the hot hand). If I am the Lions next week, I’d be afraid of Beanie. Besides, Beanie always plays well in Michigan.
– Finally, a sigh of relief for the health of Larry Fitzgerald. I’m sure Fitz isn’t feeling great and there’s always a chance he sits out part of practice. But the fact he came back in Monday night is huge, because it means he didn’t blow out his knee. When you consider how terrible the night could have been had Fitz gone down for the season, seven turnovers doesn’t hurt as bad.
Although, yes, it still hurt.
Tags: 49ers, Adrian Wilson, Anquan Boldin, Beanie Wells, Darnell Dockett, Jeremy Bridges, Kurt Warner, Larry Fitzgerald, Matt Ware, Mike Gandy, Rashad Johnson, Steve Breaston, Tim Hightower
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