On Friday, with the Cardinals options still wide open, veteran defensive back Ralph Brown was talking about going into the regular-season finale against the Packers and the idea, should the Vikings win early, the game wouldn’t mean much.
“I wish it wouldn’t have been brought up,” Brown said, “so we could just go out and play football and coaches could have just pulled guys during the game. But now, you have guys calculating stuff, talking in the locker room. I know guys will play hard but now we are thinking about different scenarios when we should just be thinking about playing the game.”
Brown’s thoughts proved prophetic. The Vikings won and the Cards simply couldn’t muster the drive to get up for what was next. It didn’t help them Sunday. The question is this: Does it really matter?
“If this happens next week, bring me the same question and I will try and dissect it for you,” defensive tackle Bryan Robinson said.
— Obviously the big story – maybe the only story – was injuries. If the air wasn’t already out of the Cards following the Vikings result, it disappeared after cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie went off. It turned out that DRC’s knee injury wasn’t as bad as it first looked, but that doesn’t mean (despite what he says) he’ll definitely be back.
— Same with Anquan Boldin’s knee/ankle and Calais Campbell’s thumb. It’s premature to guess one way or the other. At least the Cards will have an extra day – with the playoff game Sunday – to recover. It’s an important detail.
— I suppose the argument will rage, at least for a couple days, which players should have been in or not. I don’t see how anyone can quibble with DRC’s wrong-place-wrong-time. It was the third play of the game. DRC wasn’t going to sit altogether; no one but Bertrand Berry (who was out because he doesn’t play special teams) got to do that. Certainly you’re not going to sit your young legs.
Campbell was in and out, but with Robinson and Darnell Dockett not playing, Campbell couldn’t leave the game for good.
— I was a little surprised to see Boldin still in the game, but Larry Fitzgerald played even longer than that. I feel OK with Boldin’s situation after though. Normally, Boldin is pretty taciturn after games, dressing facing into his locker and often answering questions that way. Given the situation, the media group – about 15 people – quietly waited for Boldin to be ready, until he half-turned and chuckled, asking the group, “Why is everyone so quiet?” It was too light-hearted a moment for a guy who would have been ticked off about his injury (which he normally is with a bad injury).
— Speaking of Fitz, that 13th TD and getting to 100 catches mean something to him, and I am sure that played a large role in him playing the full game.
— Not a good game for Matt Leinart. He obviously knew it. His body language was demonstrative after his mistakes and even on his incompletions, he was too often off-target. It probably won’t matter in the short-term in the playoffs, and it was interesting that coach Ken Whisenhunt made sure to say the showing didn’t change his confidence in Leinart.
— Mostly, though, it was so hard to take much of anything out of Sunday. Backups played and game-plans were limited. And the Cards will be lumped in with the Bengals (and to a lesser extent, the Colts) in the playoffs. If those teams, which stumbled late by gearing back before the playoffs, win in the postseason, no one will care. If not, everyone will wonder why they geared back.
Maybe it’s part of a master plan to get back to last postseason’s us-against-the-world status. “You know, just between you and me, Coach talked about that this week, ‘Let’s go out there and let’s let all the TV pundits and everybody bury us,” cracked receiver Jerheme Urban. “That way we can be the underdog again.” (Just in case anyone wasn’t sure, Urban was joking).
Do the Cards need to be the underdog again? Who knows. Until next Sunday, when we see the Cards really try against the Packers for the first time in three attempts this season, no one does.
Tags: Anquan Boldin, Bryan Robinson, Calais Campbell, DRC, Jerheme Urban, Larry Fitzgerald, Matt Leinart, Packers, Ralph Brown
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