The Cardinals have made it through their “Sunday Night Football” gauntlet of two weeks running. They have at least one more primetime game — their next home game is on “Thursday Night Football” against the Minnesota Vikings. But that might not be the only one. Their games down the stretch might mean something. Whether those games will be free to flex is another story.
As of right now, the game that would make the most sense to flex to “Sunday Night Football” would be the Dec. 27 home game against the Green Bay Packers. Two good teams, likely with something on the line as the Packers battle the Vikings for the NFC North title and with both teams possibly fighting for a first-round bye. Meanwhile, the scheduled “Sunday Night Football” game is Pittsburgh at Baltimore, normally a lock to stay there with such a great rivalry. But the Ravens have lost quarterback Joe Flacco, running back Justin Forsett, wide receiver Steve Smith and linebacker Terrell Suggs all with season-ending injuries. They are struggling anyway. It’s not going to be the same.
Even if Cardinals-Packers makes sense, though, it’s far from a guarantee, because Fox has the ability to protect a game that week and Cards-Pack would seem a natural one to keep. It has national interest, and it’s a good game. The Panthers play the Falcons that week, so it might be worthy of Fox’s protection too — in fact, whichever one Fox doesn’t protect becomes a strong candidate to be flexed. (The Patriots play the Jets that week, but the Jets are fading fast.)
As for Week 17, which doesn’t have a named “Sunday Night Football” matchup — NBC gets to pick a game with playoff implications — the Cardinals and Seahawks is possible, but I’m guessing the NFC West will have been determined by then and there will be other games that mean more (Washington-Dallas? Minnesota-Green Bay? Philly-Giants?)
Tags: Falcons, Flex scheduling, FOX, Packers, Pathers, Ravens, Steelers, Sunday Night Football, Vikings
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The Cardinals will play their second straight game on “Sunday Night Football” this weekend and have their third primetime appearance in their last four games. They have at least one more primetime game coming this season when they host Minnesota Dec. 10 on “Thursday Night Football.” Thus far, they are 2-0 in those headliner games.
The primetime games have become much more prevalent for the Cardinals since 2006, when University of Phoenix Stadium opened (the Bengals game, by the way, is the 100th game at UoP, including preseason and postseason. Cards have sold out each one.) The willingness to try and put more teams on those games — including the choice to give every team at least one Thursday game — helps, as does the fact the Cards have been more competitive.
Before the last two games, there were some concerned about the Cardinals on primetime. “They don’t do very well” was the worry. True or false? True. At least in the past. This team is proving different.
The Cardinals have played in 17 regular-season primetime games since 2006. Their record? It’s only 7-10, and that’s with the two wins this season. However, they have under Arians won 4 of 6. (Another note: 10 of those primetime games have been against NFC West opponents, including a “Monday Night Football” stretch of five in a row.)
On the other hand, the Bengals are 4-8 in primetime games with Andy Dalton as starting quarterback, and 8-16 in primetime games under coach Marvin Lewis. Most of those, like the Cardinals, were different teams in different years and don’t have much to do with this week. Take it for what it’s worth.
Tags: Bengals, Bruce Arians, Monday Night Football, Sunday Night Football, Thursday Night Football, University of Phoenix stadium
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It may have been the timeout that save the game (although the way the Cardinals were playing defense, it might not have been that dire). Still, Arians called timeout right before Carson Palmer threw his interception and wiped out the QB’s lone turnover. The official simply couldn’t find his whistle, Arians said, and that’s why the glitch in the snap still being made, and not because Arians called it late.
Arians said he made a bad play-call and instead of going with, he realized discretion was the better part of valor.
“It was a play with Andre Ellington in the backfield,” Arians said. “I was tired of being stuck down there (deep in the Cards’ own territory) and I wanted to try and take a shot and flip field position. It was a bad time. So I called timeout. … It was one of those gut feelings it was going to be the wrong play for that time.”
It was the wrong personnel, Arians said, the wrong time to call it on second-and-long (instead of first down) and just nothing was right no matter how badly Arians wanted to make something happen.
“At times it gets frustrating,” Arians said. “But you have to be careful (as a play-caller) and not lose your patience and lose the football game.”
— The availability of special teams ace Justin Bethel is up in the air after he suffered a concussion Sunday. He will go through concussion protocol and the Cards will see where he is at the end of the week. Fellow special teamer Teddy Williams, who tore his Achilles, will be placed on injured reserve.
— Arians talked about facing the Colts this week (and this won’t be the last time you hear about this storyline). “The prep will be easy,” he said. “It’s seeing them that will be emotionally involved because it was such an emotional year last year. You’ll get through that hopefully in warmups.”
“I was hoping this would never be on the schedule. Because there are too many emotional ties to what happened last year.”
— Arians said the coaching staff for two weeks has been talking about the possibility of using Tyrann Mathieu as punt returner instead of Patrick Peterson. Those discussions will continue, Arians said. One concern is the amount of snaps Mathieu is already playing as a rookie. Clearly, though, Peterson hasn’t been his rookie self when returning punts.
— There was talk of the Cardinals-Eagles game being flexed to “Sunday Night Football.” That was officially put to rest Monday when the league announced the Sunday night game that weekend will remain Giants-Redskins.
Tags: Bruce Arians, Carson Palmer, Colts, Justin Bethel, Patrick Peterson, Sunday Night Football, Teddy Williams, Tyrann Mathieu
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That’s five years worth of hair growing on the head of Andre Ellington, so he doesn’t want to lose it. He especially doesn’t want to lose it on the football field, but he lost
some of his beloved dreadlocks Sunday, which might have been the strangest part of a strange game. The rookie running back was tackled, Jaguars defensive end Jason Babin ended up with a handful of it (right) and it ended up on the ground, only to have Cardinals defensive end Frostee Rucker rescue and return it.
“I didn’t think I was going to get it back,” Ellington said. “I was talking to (Jaguars defensive end) Andre Branch, we are pretty good friends, I told him, ‘I’m gonna get your boys, they pulled my hair out.’ But it’s all good.”
Amazingly, Ellington said he didn’t feel it, although “you don’t feel it when you are being tackled by 300-pounders.” He didn’t even realize it had happened until he saw Babin holding it up. “I was like, ‘Oh man.’ He was like, ‘It’s part of the uniform.’ I was like, ‘Alright. I’ll remember that.’ ”
Ellington later tweeted out he’d just stich back in the loose part. I didn’t really know you could do that, but hey, Rucker is a hero, apparently. Ellington did say he was just happy with the win, which is good, because not only did he have hairs yanked out (ouch, by the way) but he was held to three yards on eight carries (ouch again.)
This game had a little of everything. Big plays, bad officiating, crazy calls, a few turnovers and yet another dominant defensive showing after not exactly a bad but more of a weird start. But lookie here: The Cardinals are 6-4, reeling off three wins in a month after that Seattle loss. The schedule gets tougher, with division leaders Indy and Philly next. But the Cards are where they want to be.
— The Newark Star-Ledger reported the Cardinals game in Philly will be flexed to “Sunday Night Football.” Not a surprise. It is supposed to be Giants-Redskins, and with all the Thanksgiving games (and with Chiefs-Broncos Part II unavailable after Part I was on SNF tonight) there aren’t a ton of choices better than two potential playoff teams. It would be the Cards’ first Sunday night appearance since the Vikings game in Arizona was flexed into the spot in 2009. UPDATE: Here’s an opposing report saying it won’t happen. We’ll see this week. UPDATE II: Monday morning the NFL announced that “Sunday Night Football” was going to stay Giants-Redskins, and the Eagles-Cardinals game is staying as a 1 p.m. kickoff in Philly.
— Michael Floyd was spectacular Sunday. Forget the 91-yard play for a moment, he made a catch on the sideline for 22 yards that was incredible. He made a nice play on the long TD, too. His 193 yards are a career-high, and that threat means a lot for the Cards going down the stretch.
— Carson Palmer did not throw an interception Sunday. (OK, he did, but it didn’t count.) First time that’s happened this season.
— Palmer looked good. He said afterward he had a clean pocket, and again, that’s the book on Carson – if you give him a comfortable place within which to throw, he will do well. That’s exactly what happened.
— The Cardinals didn’t have a turnover for the first time since the third week of last season.
— The lopsided way the Cards had their offense today – 419 yards passing, 14 yards rushing – reminded me of the 2006 game in Minnesota when Matt Leinart threw for 405 yards but the Cards just ran the ball five times. The Cards lost that game. It’s not like the Cards didn’t try Sunday, with 24 attempts, but against the worst rushing defense in the league? It was surprising, to say the least.
— Special teams did not have a good day at all. The Cards allowed 36 yards a kickoff return, Dave Zastudil looked like he didn’t hit some punts as solidly as usual and more importantly – much more importantly – there were injuries. Justin Bethel went out of the game early after an illegal blindside block left him with a possible concussion, while fellow gunner Teddy Williams was lost for the season after tearing his Achilles. It hurts to lose Williams. Bethel’s status is up in the air, but it was clear how much the special teams need him after he left the game. That’s what happens when a Pro Bowl-caliber player goes down.
— Among the special teams problems, Patrick Peterson muffed a fair catch. He got it back somehow, but punt returning has turned into such tough sledding for him.
— One of the reasons the Cards had a tough time putting the game away? Field position was rarely in their favor, at least until late. The Cards started possessions on their own 3, 16, 9, 10, 2 and 10.
— There wasn’t a big crowd. It was kind of sad. “It’s like a morgue,” Cardinals tackle Eric Winston said. “It makes a three-point lead seem like 20.”
That’s good for now. Lot of flight left, but I have some other stuff I need to get to. Tomorrow, it’s Colts week, Arians against his ex-team week. It will be fun.
Tags: Andre Ellington, Carson Palmer, Dave Zastudil, Eric Winston, Jaguars, Justin Bethel, Matt Leinart, Michael Floyd, Patrick Peterson, Sunday Night Football, Teddy Williams
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Just a few tidbits here on the Cards’ extra day off:
— Sports Illustrated is putting together best-of-the-decade lists, and the Cardinals are all over them. To begin with, the Cardinals were in the decade’s best game (the most recent Super Bowl — I know, ouch), they were part of one of the magazine’s best NFL covers (Pat Tillman), and had one of the decade’s best players (Sean Morey). They also had one of the decade’s top 20 individual performances in Larry Fitzgerald’s 2009 playoff run (although they have ties with not one but two others).
— The Cardinals, given their recent success, have done big TV numbers this season locally. But with the Vikings coming in and the Cards getting another appearance on “Sunday Night Football,” their TV numbers were huge last weekend. In the Valley, the Cards got a 31.9 rating and 46 share, reaching 598,000 homes. Those stats set a local market record for a Cards’ regular-season game. The game was also the most-watched TV show in the nation last week. It averaged 20.9 million viewers, six million more than the No. 2 show, ABC’s “Desperate Housewives.”
— The Big Red Rage is set for Thursday night at 6 p.m. at Majerle’s Sports Grill. Bertrand Berry’s guest this week is Karlos Dansby. As usual, if you can’t make it, it will air on Sports 620 KTAR.
Tags: Big Red Rage, Larry Fitzgerald, Pat Tillman, Sean Morey, Sports Illustrated, Sunday Night Football, Vikings
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I’d think this goes without saying, because it’s kind of a big deal, but don’t forget the game Sunday against the Vikings was “flexed” by NBC for their “Sunday Night Football” telecast, meaning kickoff is at 6:20 p.m. (actually, the ball won’t be kicked off officially until 6:30) and NOT the 2:15 p.m. original time it will say on almost everyone’s tickets. Sure, I would guess most people think this blog post is unneeded, but trust me, it’s needed.
The parking lots will open at 2 p.m. and stadium doors open at 4:45 p.m. Also keep in mind there is a concert going on at the arena next door, so traffic may be more congested that usual. Factor that into your planning.
Finally, the Cards and Chicanos Por La Causa are hosting a toy drive for underprivileged children at the game. New, unwrapped toys and donations will be collected at each stadium entrance, if you’re in the giving mood. The donations will benefit the “Angeles Del Barrio” program, which distributes toys to more than 13,000 children in Phoenix and San Luis.
Tags: Sunday Night Football, Vikings
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The game against the Vikings was always going to be high-profile, with the Vikings rolling along and Brett Favre and Adrian Petersen, etc., etc. But now that it’s been moved to “Sunday Night Football” it’ll be interesting to see how the Cardinals respond given their last home game under the lights didn’t go so well.
Still, it’s Titans first, right?
Anyway, some other things to throw out there while I am thinking about them:
— The Big Red Rage this week will have Bertrand Berry hosting Adrian Wilson. Because of Thanksgiving, the show will be held tomorrow (Wednesday) at 6 p.m. at Majerle’s Sports Grill in Chandler. The show will be tape delayed on Sports 620 KTAR after the Suns’ game, and then re-aired on KTAR on Friday at 5:30 p.m.
— Linebacker Karlos Dansby will be making an appearance next week, Dec. 1, at the Chandler Village Verizon Wireless store (2491 W Frye) from 6-7 p.m. Cheerleaders and Big Red will also be on hand.
— Finally, running back Beanie Wells is up for the league’s Pepsi Rookie of the Week award, for which you can vote for by clicking here.
Tags: Adrian Wilson, Beanie Wells, Big Red Rage, Karlos Dansby, Sunday Night Football
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The Cardinals’ game Sunday is officially sold out, meaning it will air on local TV (Fox) and not be blacked out. There are still a handful of various tickets available, though, so don’t hesitate to look into it if you want to attend.
But some final news from the Giants’ game. Many were wondering if there would be any fines levied from the game. Yes there were. Safety Antrel Rolle was fined $7,500 for his hit on TE Kevin Boss (which was not flagged) for unnecessarily striking a defenseless receiver. Giants defensive back Michael Johnson was fined $5,000 for striking Cards QB Kurt Warner in the head area (which also didn’t get flagged and left Warner very angry at the time). Two fines were handed out for penalties that were called: $5,000 each to Cardinals tackle Levi Brown for his chop block and to Giants running back Ahmad Bradshaw for his punch to the head area of defensive end Darnell Dockett.
UPDATE: For those wanting clarification on the Rolle fine, this from the NFL: “His actions violated Rule 12, Section 2, Article 8(k) of the NFL Official Playing Rules, which states that it is unnecessary roughness ‘if the initial force of the contact by a defender’s helmet, forearm or shoulder is to the head or neck area of a defenseless receiver who is catching or attempting to catch a pass.’ ”
The rule was new player safety rule just approved by teams at the NFL meetings last March. It’s not just helmet-to-helmet that’s illegal. It includes any shoulder- or forearm-to-head hits on defenseless receivers as well.
Tags: Antrel Rolle, Darnell Dockett, Giants, Levi Brown, Sunday Night Football
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At the end of the Giants’ game, cornerback Bryant McFadden — who, along with hurting safety Antrel Rolle, held the secondary together late through a host of injuries — brought together the defense on the sideline and huddled, holding hands on one knee as the offense ran out the clock.
(It was important the defense was off the field too. Rolle, whose sore foot was bad enough that he admitted he would have come out if teammates Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and Adrian Wilson weren’t already out, said his thoughts after his game-clinching interception were: “Get this ball and get this game over with and get to the bus, because it was painful. I was hurting.”)
McFadden said his message for his teammates was simple. “I just felt like we, as a unit, needed to give thanks to the Man above,” McFadden said. “The game we play, it’s a blessing to be able to do it. And to be a part of this unit we have … we don’t want to take it for granted. We played outstanding, and nobody believed we would except the guys in this building.”
That said, when the huddle broke, the Cardinals also made sure they delivered a message to the Giants’ fans who had not held back from their verbal slings and arrows through the game. “That’s one of the best situations,” McFadden said. “They were on us the whole game. We just wanted to be patient. ‘Be patient, wait, wait, wait … finally! Now we can say something!’ That was a great feeling right there, to say something and (the fans) just put their heads down and quietly walked away.”
Tags: Adrian Wilson, Antrel Rolle, Bryant McFadden, DRC, Giants, Sunday Night Football
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Here’s one benefit of the Cards’ big win on “Sunday Night Football” in New York: It could earn them another NBC appearance.
Right now, NBC doesn’t have the Vikings on their schedule and are missing out on the Brett Favre gravy train (however irritating that may sound to some). The Vikings come to University of Phoenix Stadium Dec. 6 in what could be a perfect opportunity to flex out of the current Patriots-Dolphins game that night (NBC can’t start flexing games until the week of Nov. 22). Now, the Dolphins could get hot and that AFC game could still be attractive. Or the Vikings — or Cards — could hit a bump and not look as good by then. But it is possible. Fox and CBS can “protect” games from being flexed, but those week-by-week choices have already been made and Fox didn’t touch Cardinals-Vikings.
Tags: Flex scheduling, NBC, Sunday Night Football, Vikings
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