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Blogs

Friday before the Steelers

Posted by Darren Urban on October 21, 2011 – 4:54 pm

Everybody has a story. Mine was standing in the bowels of Raymond James Stadium, suit on and lugging my computer backpack among a host of other Super Bowl media types waiting for the game to end and to have access to players/the field. And watching the game on a TV – seven-second delay – as Fitz caught that crossing route and raced for that 64-yard touchdown, and seeing the crowd go crazy and roar. I remember the emotion smacking me hard enough I bent over for a moment to catch my breath, thinking, “Holy crap, the Cards are going to win this thing.”

Steelers coach Mike Tomlin was asked earlier this week on his conference call about how long ago that Cards-Steelers Super Bowl seemed. His answer was succinct: “Eons.”

I can’t disagree. So much has happened in the two-and-a-half seasons since the last time the Cardinals and Steelers played a game that counted, which will happen again Sunday at University of Phoenix Stadium. The Steelers have been back to another Super Bowl, losing this time. The Cards have undergone a huge metamorphosis, losing one way or another many of key figures that played on that team in 2008.

Not only does the Super Bowl seem like eons ago, so too does that playoff game against Green Bay a year later, when the Cards lit up the scoreboard like a pinball machine.

Now they have – at this moment in time – a chance to beat the Steelers, which in no way would make up for the Super Bowl loss but would be certainly welcome nonetheless, given their dire straits.

“It doesn’t erase the fact we got there and it was a good run for us,” Cardinals coach Ken Whisenhunt said. “I think that’s what makes us so confident we are doing the right thing, as far as how we prepare and how we work.

“I’m more worried about where we are as a team right now and getting our team some wins.”

– Defensive tackle Darnell Dockett called the recent players meeting that included coaches – a rare occurrence – “one of the most emotional meetings I have ever been in.” The hope is whatever messages were delivered carry over. As Fitz said (and I am paraphrasing here), meetings are good but it comes down to playing on Sundays.

– The Steelers can be run on. They have the best pass defense in the NFL. This may be a weekend where running back Beanie Wells, now healthy from his hamstring issue, gets 30 carries (his career-high is 27, set against the Giants earlier this month).

– You figure the Steelers are going to test these young cornerbacks. Wide receiver Mike Wallace has established himself as one of the – if not the – scariest deep threat in the league. He already has five catches this season of at least 40 yards. He averages 21 yards a reception, and it will be one of the keys to the game how he is dealt with by cornerbacks Patrick Peterson and A.J. Jefferson.

– Speaking of Peterson, he may be a rookie, but he isn’t fazed by the Cards’ current rough patch. “My confidence will always stay high,” Peterson said. “I let bygones be bygones. I have amnesia. This team will continue fighting.”

– In terms of yardage gained on third-down receptions, this game will have the top two receivers in the NFL: Wallace (228 yards) and Arizona’s Early Doucet (214).

– Nice job by Kent Somers to ferret out the conditions of the conditional draft pick the Cards got in the trade that sent running back Tim Hightower to Washington and a pick plus defensive end Vonnie Holliday to Arizona. The Cards get a sixth-rounder unless Hightower plays in 60.41 percent of the offensive snaps for the Redskins. Currently, Hightower has played 54 percent of the snaps and shares time with Ryan Torain and Roy Helu. That doesn’t seem to be a good combination for the higher pick, barring an injury.

– With defensive coordinator Ray Horton seeing his former team Sunday, I wanted to remind everyone of the feel-good story from the offseason, when Horton gave his car to a Steelers cafeteria worker before leaving the team to come to Arizona.

– If you get to Big Ben, tackle him. It changes everything when you don’t.

I thought it was interesting today as Horton spoke and a visiting Pittsburgh writer asked about the matchup between Fitzgerald and cornerback Ike Taylor and what he thought of the matchup.

“Back in Tampa, there was a call late in the game where our guy caught a pass and went up the field,” Horton said. “I hope there is a lot of that this week.”

Of course, back in Tampa, Horton was working for the Steelers at the time and probably wanted to throw up when Fitzgerald split the defense for his touchdown. Today, though, the memory comes up and it’s “our guy.”

Eons indeed.


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Posted in Blog | 31 Comments »


31 Responses to “Friday before the Steelers”

  1. By Peter on Oct 21, 2011 | Reply

    gah stop making me so excited for this game… It seems the articles are just flowing out of this site on facebook newsfeed… I think the bye makes everyone wonder if the pieces have fallen into place and the Cardinals are going to finally finish their games instead of falling by seemingly miniscule points

  2. By cardfancolorado on Oct 21, 2011 | Reply

    ahhhh sweet memories

  3. By Tyler on Oct 21, 2011 | Reply

    Darren,

    I just wanted to pass along a friendly tip here. I was reading “The Turnover Ratio” and I noticed something I’ve seen before and decided it’s a trend now. You seem to use “dominate” where you mean “dominant.” That’s all. I enjoy reading your stuff!

  4. By nodavis2000 on Oct 21, 2011 | Reply

    I think the Cards can win this one. I’m not sure why everyone thinks that the Steelers are going to blow us away. I know that we haven’t played great, but we’ve played good enough to win. Our defense has been getting better. Our O turned the ball over way deep in our zone against Vikings. And if our O made a couple plays done the stretch in other games, then we would have a different record. I know key players haven’t played well, our coaching has been questionable, and the Steelers have all this SB hype. But here’s why I think we have a chance:
    1. Our bye was time to reorganize ourselves. I’m sure we’ve identified our weaknesses and have addressed them.
    2. Both Whiz and Horton have said good things this week about both sides of the ball. I still believe our coaches can coach and turn this team around.
    3. Steelers are weak against the run. And if our O can do one thing good, it’s give Beanie the ball. I hope that we can control the clock with the run and keep Big Ben off the field. Best defense is keeping the opposing offense OFF THE FIELD.
    4. Although the Steelers D is ranked number one, I think that’s a hollow number. Look at the opposing teams and QBs they’ve faced:
    a. Joe Flacco (Ravens)
    b. Tavaris Jackson (Seahawks)
    c. Kerry Collins (Colts)
    d. Blaine Gabbert, Rookie (Jaguars)
    The only two good QBs were Schaub and Hasselback. Four struggling to abysmal QBs. I’d take Kolb and our receiving core over those teams any day of the week.
    5. Their O-line is not doing well. Even worse than ours. Hopefully, Bridges stays in and Brown stays off the field. But, that’s out of our hands… (the fans)

    I think this is our do or die game of the season. If we win, I believe we can still come back on top of NFC West. If we lose, then I believe our hope for this season might be over. I’ll still hope for the best every week, every game, but if the Cards don’t start having chemistry this game, it’ll be too late to form up and take the division.

    GO CARDS, TROUNCE THE STEELERS!!!

  5. By Scott H on Oct 21, 2011 | Reply

    Darren -

    Damn, man…you need to put THIS picture in front of us right now??? That is just cold….

    I’ve heard a lot this week about how many Steelers players were NOT happy after a game ( last week againts the Jags ) in which they felt like they really took their foot off the gas in the 2nd half and almost let one get away. See where i’m going with this? I’m guessing that if the Steelers are comfortably in front this week, they will NOT be inclined to back it off going into the 2nd half. This could be ugly, folks….

  6. By AndyStandsUp on Oct 21, 2011 | Reply

    A few replies:

    * Joey Porter called a players only meeting last season after the debacle against Atlanta and the Cards won the following week versus Oakland with a Janikowski missed short field goal.
    * The highest carries in the Whisenhunt era are Edgerin James and Wells 27. Tim Hightower had 25.
    * Jefferson leads the team with 35 targets averaging 6 YPA, while Peterson has 27 for 12. Adrian Wilson has 7 for 22 YPA.
    * While Doucet may be productive on third down, the rest of the team isn’t. Cards rank in the bottom 5 of completing them.
    * Torrain and Helu DO have a history of injuries, so Timmy getting more playing time could be a matter of games.

    My Super Bowl story:
    Since my wife abhors football and sports in general, I’m “forced” to watch the game in the back den. (Ludicrous, I know.)
    Now, I’ve watched a few games in my life and after a while they seem to become scripted; you have a strong feeling on how they’ll end. So, melancholic, I stroll past the living room where her family is watching something completely inconsequential like “America’s Top Talent”. “America’s Top Model” or something like that. (She always says I don’t pay attention to her or listens to what she’s saying; I forgot what she said.)
    Anyways , it was on commercial, so I asked if they would switch to the game and BAM! Fitzgerald caught that slant over the middle.
    OMG! The whole room went wild, with me leading the charge, pounding fists into the back of the couch, shouting epithets and unfortunately using the Howard Cosell- Dave Meggett reference. Everyone watched the bitter end and said it was one of the most exciting things they’ve ever viewed.

    Bottom line is now my wife and I watch NFL Network, and even though I’m supposed to sit in on “Jersey Shore” or “Kardashians” or something like that in return, I conveniently forget.

  7. By georgiebird on Oct 21, 2011 | Reply

    Darren,
    On Larry’s 64 yd TD in the SB:
    Marv Albert’s call on the radio was the best football call ever!!
    Even Marv was caught up in the moment of an ‘impossible dream come through’

  8. By rio on Oct 21, 2011 | Reply

    I SEE SWEET CORN ON THE KOLB THIS WEEK.

  9. By georgiebird on Oct 21, 2011 | Reply

    Darren,
    Agree with Whiz that the SB year was a good run and no one can take it away from him and the team. But for Whiz to use the SB year as a justification for his current decisions is ridiculous.
    1) the defense in the SB season was bad and has continued to the present day to be bad- there has been no improvement during Whiz’ time.
    2) the offense was Warner and Larry- and Warner is gone.
    The SB season was an aberration- it was a magical time. The SB season was the proverbial ‘House of Cards’.

  10. By georgiebird on Oct 21, 2011 | Reply

    Darren,

    Meant to say “Impossible dream come True”

  11. By UC on Oct 22, 2011 | Reply

    “I think that’s what makes us so confident we are doing the right thing, as far as how we prepare and how we work.”

    Meaning that’s what makes KENNY confident that HE’S doing the right thing, because a long time ago, during a season that’s far, far away, Kenny had a quarterback and offensive coordinator who could overcome his stupidity. And of course the 6-15 record since they’ve both been gone and have left Kenny to own devices doesn’t mean anything, because to Kenny, stats don’t really matter. What does matter to Kenny is what HE KNOWS, and current reality has no business intruding on what Kenny KNOWS.

  12. By clssylssy on Oct 22, 2011 | Reply

    Yeah, well…I don’t know what they expected when only about five guys remain from the SB team…and the fact that we were screwed out of an off season. Nobody can learn a new job overnight and be expected to produce SB quality play. Coach has been forced to abandon all the things that have brought success in the past…not playing rookies their starting year until they learn the playbook, veteran anchors and a supporting fanbase. We have the talent just didn’t have the time to turn water into wine. This is heartbreaking for the fans but I’m sure it’s even worse for the players, especially the vets like Fitz, DD, Adub. Look around, we aren’t the only ones in this situation–the Broncos, Vikes, Redskins are switching QBs at this stage of the game. I think K.Kolb was set up to fail and probably wasn’t told how quickly Cards fans would be to throw him under the bus. I believe we can do it, we could beat the Steelers but now our mental attitude is so bad, thank you Kent Sommers et al, that what we need is a team psychiatrist! GO CARDS! GO COACH WHISIENHUNT! Bring down Bennie boy and beat the Steelers—SHOCK THE WORLD!

  13. By Codyw on Oct 22, 2011 | Reply

    i hope beanie and fitz light up the field sunday i know we have enough talent to make it back to the superbowl again if we can get our stuff together its gonna take time but we will get there again GOOO CARDS

  14. By ross on Oct 22, 2011 | Reply

    Tim didn’t play at all last week because of a lingering shoulder injury–if he gets the number one spot back, the cards may get that fifth.

  15. By dre 1368 on Oct 22, 2011 | Reply

    what a great game that was only to see it come down to the last play. we had like 50 family members at the house watching it and dam we jump like if we all hit the power ball jackpot. To see it unfold like that had girls crying all over the places my hart shatter it was a killer like no other but that’s why we watch sports you want your team to win every time . As a card fan that was the most epic thing i ever seen tho . We need to change the minds of the players to become winners . I remember when Boldin got drafted he said he has always won ever where he played and he said he was going to bring a sb to the desert that what is missing on this team no one has that kind of hart . even tho he had his flare up on the side lines with haley on the side lines he just wanted the ball . you understand a how he felt he wanted it so bad . we need winners on this team not player trying to get fat pay days and leave. i thinks thats what is missing here.

  16. By Scott H on Oct 22, 2011 | Reply

    clssylssy -

    May we remind you ONCE AGAIN that this past off-season was something that ALL 32 teams in the NFL had to contend with – NOT JUST THE CARDINALS??? My gosh, give it a rest already! You are going to such great lengths to make excuses for this team when teams like the Bills and Lions and 49ers – EVEN THE DAMN BENGALS – don’t seem to need them. Instead of trying to distract us with all these other teams who are struggling, too, why don’t YOU take a moment to look at the teams who are doing quite well despite enduring the same chaotic off-season as the Cardinals did?

  17. By cardsalltheway on Oct 22, 2011 | Reply

    nodavis2000,
    Joe Flaco isn’t good, but didn’t he beat the Patriots this year? The only way he isn’t good is if he played for Ken W.

  18. By cardsalltheway on Oct 22, 2011 | Reply

    clssylssy,
    “…and the fact that we were screwed out of an off season”
    That’s a tired excuse already since every team got “screwed” as you say. The embarrassing thing is that some teams with new head coaches(49ers) are doing better than Ken W.

    “Nobody can learn a new job overnight and be expected to produce SB quality play.”
    I guess you haven’t seen the 49ers play yet aye?

    “Coach has been forced to abandon all the things that have brought success in the past.”
    I don’t think Ken W. has been forced to do anything, even if he was how is that a bad thing? His philosophy stinks which must include being inconsistent.

    “I think K.Kolb was set up to fail…”
    Ken W. and the Cardinal organization has done that. Kolb NEVER deserved to start the season since Ken W. has admitted he didn’t know the playbook while we had two guys that did in John Skelton and Bartel sitting on the bench. “Set up to fail” – You are correct!

  19. By Nick Pepe on Oct 22, 2011 | Reply

    @AndyStandsup

    great post but in your next life you should pre-screen for an avid sports fan.
    funny.

    the Steelers are not unbeatable. And we know it. its been a long two weeks, I am ready for a win.

    Nick Pepe
    Lifetime Member, getting antsy

  20. By in fitz we trust on Oct 22, 2011 | Reply

    seeing that picture, reminds me when i got kicked out of native newyorker that day here in mesa……. steelers fans were talking smack, i was pissed off, warner hit fitz for that magical play!!! an i jumped up and was screaming in there face!!! ended up fighting an got kicked out. ( it was 4th quarter so i was already drunk) was happy on the way home untill the outcome….. when i think back, glad i wasnt there for the end of the game. who new what would have happened….. this sunday is gonna be a game for us to remember. win or loose, 16-0 or 0-16 cards for life!!!!

  21. By cardsalltheway on Oct 22, 2011 | Reply

    Cardinals(baseball) scored 16, can the football Cardinals score more?
    One of Ken W.’s favorite sayings has always been something like…”We do better when we’re not expected to win.” Well Ken W., I doubt you’ll be expected(favored) to win 9 of the next 11 games so I doubt we’ll be hearing Ken W. or any other players say the above statement this year.
    10/23 4:05 ET Pittsburgh -4 At Arizona 44(over/under).

  22. By DAVID on Oct 22, 2011 | Reply

    korn on the cob cant pass, cards cant score, = another defeat

  23. By bluepitt on Oct 23, 2011 | Reply

    “It doesn’t erase the fact we got there and it was a good run for us,” Cardinals coach Ken Whisenhunt said. “I think that’s what makes us so confident we are doing the right thing, as far as how we prepare and how we work.”

    WAKE UP WHIZZZZ!!!!!! go back and read some of the blogs in here! We prepaired way harder in 08 and 09… 2 a day’s no vet days off, heck they even hit in the rain over Xmas due to the whoopn they got from philly and the pats!!!! WAKE UP!!!!!! I have never heard the word Vet day off until last year!!!!! Now look at the record last year and the record now!!!!!! WAKE UPPPPPPP!!!!

  24. By cards>niners on Oct 23, 2011 | Reply

    Is there such thing as a must win this early in the season? Yes, and this is one of them.

  25. By Jesse on Oct 23, 2011 | Reply

    I understand many peoples pessimism about this team, but I believe that good things worth having are hard to get. This team wants to be good, they know they can be good and they will be.
    This game will prove that.

  26. By AndyStandsUp on Oct 23, 2011 | Reply

    @Nick Pepe, Lifetime Member,
    Sorry, Bro, but I don’t think I trade my wife for the world. Not only does she put up with an adult who voraciously follows games kids play, but she has changed her mindset to participate with me occasionally.
    And the look and excitement from her and her family that Super Bowl night is something I’ll never forget.

    As for today’s game, I have a good feeling about it.
    “These aren’t your Daddy’s Cards, Same New Cards!”

  27. By Nick Pepe on Oct 23, 2011 | Reply

    @andy, was only in jest, I too am one who is lucky to have what I have at home. And I too have a very good feeling about today!

  28. By Big Red on Oct 23, 2011 | Reply

    Cant even watch this game anymore…. what a mockery of Arizona!!!!!!!!!!! I am DONE!!!!!!! Have Fun NINERS

  29. By AndyStandsUp on Oct 23, 2011 | Reply

    Stand corrected, once again.

    Man, this is getting old.

  30. By BIG RED 66 on Oct 23, 2011 | Reply

    If that is not proof the Skelton should be starting and Whiz n Punt should be fired then what is. Keep positive, we will get it worked out. 1-15 season folks and you can’t tell me Kolb is any better than Anderson. Skelton is our future, Kolb is a bust.

  31. By David C. on Oct 24, 2011 | Reply

    Darren,
    Did you happen to catch a curious tweet from Matt Leinart after the Cardinals loss yesterday? I’ve copied it for everyone.

    “Do you all believe in karma? I absolutely do. I do believe good things happen to good people, sometimes it’s shown in funny ways. Def believe what goes around comes around to”

    I wonder who that was directed to…

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