The sequence in question — really only one play, when you break it down — is innocently buried in the play-by-play of Sunday’s 22-21 loss in Washington:
Arizona Cardinals at 5:17
1-10-ARZ 20 (5:17) C.Wells right guard to ARZ 23 for 3 yards (R.McIntosh).
2-7-ARZ 23 (4:35) (Shotgun) K.Kolb pass incomplete short right to E.Doucet.
Penalty on ARZ-T.Heap, Illegal Motion, declined.
3-7-ARZ 23 (4:32) (Shotgun) K.Kolb pass incomplete short right to E.Doucet (R.Kerrigan).
4-7-ARZ 23 (4:28) D.Zastudil punts 41 yards to WAS 36, Center-M.Leach, downed by ARZ. WAS-D.Gomes was injured during the play.
Many (as in people commenting on my Twitter feed and on the blog) seem to wonder why, on that second down play, Beanie Wells was not given the ball. The clock would have kept moving, some said. Beanie was running well, said others. In the end, the sport of second-guessing play calls may rank up there with reasons people like to watch the games. Here are my thoughts on that sequence — the choices make sense to me.
If the Cardinals had still been ahead, 21-13, and had been able to prevent that painful fourth-down touchdown pass moments before, I get running Beanie a few times. But even after the Cards knocked down the two-point conversion, they were only up by two points. With five minutes left, the playbook still has to be wide-open — you can’t just grind the clock and punt. Not when a field goal beats you. Could a Beanie second-down run made it third-and-2? Sure. It could have also been stoned (and the Redskins were looking run-first at that point) and you’d be faced with third-and-7 anyway.
One thing I will say: It seemed like the second-down shotgun look would have been helpful to a Beanie quick draw; Wells gained 45 of his yards on three rushing attempts when quarterback Kevin Kolb started in shotgun on the play.
Milking the clock makes no sense to me. If you don’t get the first down and drain the clock, all it would have meant was that the Redskins kick the game-winning field goal as time expires rather than the Cards getting a final drive chance with 1:46 left — and that pass to Chansi Stuckey made things look at first so promising, until he was stripped.
As for Wells’ only having three carries in the first half before getting 11 in the second half, Whisenhunt said “we didn’t have a lot of opportunities in the first half.” (The Cards did only have
18 20 first-half plays). “In the second half, we got into a package where we were having success. It was giving them problems and Beanie ran the ball very well.”
“You’d like to start out a little better than we did but we didn’t,” Whisenhunt added. “That’s something we are going to continue to work on.”
Wells looked frustrated after the game, but that could have been more about the gut-punch loss. The Cards only had three fourth-quarter possessions, and one lasted one play, the 73-yard bomb to Fitz. Then came the above possession, and then the final Stuckey fumble possession.
Tags: Beanie Wells, Kevin Kolb, Redskins
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