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Friday before the Lions

Posted by Darren Urban on December 18, 2009 – 5:05 pm

One road trip left. Sure, it’ll be sub-freezing temps in Detroit this weekend (last I checked, 31 degrees Saturday and Sunday) but thanks to the roof of Ford Field, it won’t make a difference in the game. That suits the Cards, who could use an offensive outburst in perfect conditions.

You never take anything for granted, but the Cards have to like the matchup with a Detroit team coming off an abysmal showing against the Ravens and trying to play out the string of what has been another rough season. Covering many bad seasons here, everyone always talked about playing for your job after the chance at the postseason faded, but that’s always a tough situation. How many Lions want to stay with the Lions? You always have to wonder what you’re up against.

And while the Lions can’t be happy with how they played last week, you know the Cards aren’t. You know Kurt Warner wants to bounce back, that Tim Hightower and Beanie Wells want carries to wash away memories of fumbles, that Larry Fitzgerald – who I expect to play – is desperate to pile up some yards after getting so few last week.

Meanwhile, there’s a good chance snow is going to be dumped on the Philadelphia area. We’ll see how that affects the 49ers-Eagles game.

First, though, the Cards must beat the Lions.

— Steve Breaston, barring an upset, isn’t getting back to 1,000 yards receiving this season. Heck, he’s had just two catches the past two games (for 23 yards) and just six over the past four. He was targeted six times in San Francisco but got just one catch (one pass was deftly knocked away; another he was open and Warner just misfired out of bounds).

“Some of it hasn’t gone his way, some of it is the way it’s gone in the game,” coach Ken Whisenhunt said. “Some of it is more run (calls). We’ve been in more two-tight end, two-back sets, which minimizes his time on the field. But I believe he will still make a few big plays for us yet this season.”

If you knew the Miracle Baby, you’d know he really doesn’t worry much about such things. He’s about as far from a diva receiver as you can get. “It’s difficult and you want the ball,” Breaston said. “You have to look at the situation. As long as you get open, people see that. Regardless of what happened last year, I am still the third receiver; we still have talented running backs. They all have to get their touches too. You can’t be impatient.”

A smile crossed his face. “When that ball comes, you need to make that play. The ball becomes more valuable to you, knowing it might not get back to you anytime soon.”

— The pass rush was a worry before the season. But the Cards have 36 sacks and are on pace for 45, which would easily be the best number the team has had since moving to Arizona (that number is 39, accomplished twice, in 1998 and 1988).

— Fitzgerald is nine yards short of 1,000 receiving yards. Anquan Boldin, with three games left, needs only 197, impressive considering how banged up he was the first half of the season. Maybe Q can repeat his 217-yard effort he had at Ford Field in his NFL debut.

— Gabe Watson is going home. He’s from Southfield, Michigan (where, among other things, he punted for his high school team – that’s right, Spongebob Squareback was a punter). It’s his first game back in Michigan since leaving the University of Michigan. He got 48 tickets for family and friends.

“I was a huge Barry Sanders fan and my dad used to take us to Lions’ training camps all the time,” Watson said. “That was the only NFL team I really knew about, so growing up, when I saw how big the guys were and knowing how big I was, I thought, ‘Shoot, I’d love to play here.’ Instead, I’m with the Cardinals.”

— The Cards’ defense has a chance at a big day. The Lions don’t have their best quarterback (Matt Stafford, bad shoulder) or their best running back (Kevin Smith, lost for the season with a knee injury). Their best receiver, Calvin Johnson, is nursing a bad knee. It’s impossible, after last week, to assume anything.

But the last time the Cards melted down with turnovers, it was against Carolina. The next week, they went on the road to the Midwest and pounded an NFC North team. That was Chicago. This is Detroit. Here’s hoping for more Warner TD passes. And some turnovers of the Cards’ very own.


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7 Responses to “Friday before the Lions”

  1. By GEORGE KLATT on Dec 18, 2009 | Reply

    DARREN, I think you are correct that the CARDINALS will bounce back against DETROIT and that the niners will lose to philly but I would like you to know I also think you are correct about the fumbles the cards running backs had last game, it is not acceptable, the coaches should be able to traim the players on how to protect the ball. I want you to respond to this, I watch the other playoff bound NFL teams and they do not self destruct with fumbles in one game and play almost perfect the next game, do you agree that this could be a coaching problem.

  2. By darrenurban on Dec 18, 2009 | Reply

    George —

    Honestly, I don’t. I could be wrong, but here is my reasoning: To me, fumbling is a football fundamental. Carrying the ball correctly should be something you should know by the time you get to the NFL. My wife is a high school English teacher on the junior level and she runs across way too many kids who can’t construct simple paragraphs. While that falls in her lap to correct, it takes away from teaching what she should on her current level. I think the Cards’ coaches do work on the fumbling issue, but it comes down to hanging on to the ball. I’m not 100 percent sure it can be corrected, other than putting two hands on the ball — which obviously would take away from what these backs do.

  3. By Bob on Dec 19, 2009 | Reply

    If these next two games aren’t absolute blowouts, we have some worries.

  4. By scott on Dec 19, 2009 | Reply

    darren;

    agree with your analysis and your post mortem on the san fran game. i am more worried about hightowers fumbles. they always seem to occur after he has taken a first hit. he then seems to expose the football and if he gets hit a second time (like the giants, vikes and san fran) — coughs it up.

    i’ll be making the trek to ford field so i will be cheering the cards on for hopefully a win and a wrap up of the nfc west title. that would be a great christmas present!

  5. By Ottis Anderson Fan on Dec 19, 2009 | Reply

    Toughen up Darren!

    31 degrees is downright balmy up here in the Northwoods this time of year. People are walking around without wearing their winter jackets today (Saturday). That usually happens when temps have already dipped to as low as -2 F like they were earlier this week (and -10 F the week prior) in Madison, WI. And those aren’t wind chill temps either.

  6. By TARL SAMPSON on Dec 19, 2009 | Reply

    Our running back coach always told us to cover it with both hands up the middle, cradle it. Ya its good to run with just one hand and stiff arm, but for god sacks, know when to cover up the ball! I mean they are spinning in the middle with the ball in one hand, just waving it around like its a sparkler or something. One fumble negates a ton of yards.

  7. By Joe on Dec 19, 2009 | Reply

    Ottis –
    Give him hell, man. I used to live up there in WI, so I know what youre sayin — 31 is shirtsleeve weather. You guys are a hardy bunch.
    Down here in AZ we get spoiled. Folks like it when it finally drops down to 60 so they can get out their winter sweaters.

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