Lions aftermath

Posted by Darren Urban on December 20, 2009 – 11:14 pm

So what was Sunday, exactly?

Was it the scary way the Cards managed to come up with a win in Detroit? Was it, ultimately, the fact they won the game and turned it into the NFC West title by the end of the night (pictures from the flight home are right here)? A little of both, I suppose. The Lions, by the end, were using a third-string quarterback, a second-string running back and couldn’t get the ball to star wideout Calvin Johnson. Mistakes were made. Yet the Cards ended up with a victory. That wasn’t the team that took apart the Vikings on “Sunday Night Football” but it wasn’t the team that played in San Francisco either.

If it makes any frustrated fans out there feel better, there’s was enough concern lingering in the locker room to make sure the close call won’t go for naught.

“As a team, we have to know, being who we are, we’re going to get it every week,” wide receiver Steve Breaston said. “That is what we have to understand.”

“We’ve got to look at this film, look at the second half and look ourselves in the mirror,” safety Adrian Wilson said. “We’ve got some good team coming up so we can’t continue to shoot ourselves in the foot.”

With the one-win Rams coming in to University of Phoenix Stadium this week, everyone will be looking for domination. That may or may not happen, but maybe it’s something the Cards strive for as they gear up for what is now a guaranteed playoff berth.

— Wilson is thisclose to reaching the 20/20 club for career sacks and interceptions. He got to 19½ sacks Sunday when he got a half, splitting one with Clark Haggans. “I ain’t tripping off that,” Wilson said. “It’s a half. I’ll continue to work. Sooner or later, it’ll come around.”

— The Cardinals faced four third-and-1 plays Sunday. Beanie Wells lost three yards on the first, Kurt Warner was sacked for a loss of eight on the second, Wells was stuffed for no gain on the third. The fourth was a nine-yard swing pass to running back Tim Hightower. But the Cards obviously need to get better on converting those, and it was one of the reasons their offense had so many fits and starts.

— Wells was very, very good Sunday. I will now get a bunch of e-mails/blog questions/Tweets asking me if he will replace Hightower in the starting lineup. I doubt it, and the only reason I am not saying it definitely won’t happen is because you can never say never. But as I have said many times, I don’t think coach Ken Whisenhunt has any reason to upset that apple cart. Hightower started Sunday and Wells was on the field – making the Cards’ first rushing attempt of the game – on the Cards’ second play. We all can see what Beanie brings. Whether he starts, truthfully, is immaterial.

— In case anyone wasn’t sure, punter Ben Graham continues to have his unbelievably good season (and that’s with a sore groin right now). He averaged 50.3 yards on seven kicks Sunday, put three more inside the Detroit 20-yard line and can boast this stat: He hasn’t kicked a ball into the end zone since the Houston game, which was the fourth game of the season. That’s 62 straight punts without a touchback over 11 games. He has 32 punts inside the 20 in that span.

— Jeremy Bridges got another start at left tackle, and that may not change. Mike Gandy is struggling mightily with that pelvic injury – Larry Fitzgerald said last week Gandy’s guts were “falling out” – and I’m not sure Gandy is going to be able to get back out there. It makes the Bridges signing gigantic.

— Congrats to tight end Anthony Becht, who played in his 150th straight game Sunday.

— Quarterback Kurt Warner just seemed, I don’t know, off. There were a couple chances, especially early, where Anquan Boldin was open down the field and Warner didn’t see him or didn’t look his way. There were also a couple of near misses on interceptions on which Warner was lucky they weren’t turnovers. The fumble right before halftime – on which Warner simply wasn’t given enough time – cost the Cards three points.

Then again, Warner calmly hit Fitzgerald for a 13-yard gain to start the final drive (Oh, and don’t forget the huge 39-yard kickoff return by LaRod Stephens-Howling to set the offense up). And his final pass was the perfect five-yard screen to Boldin for a touchdown (I do love that Boldin screen in the red zone). Warner’s day was kind of a microcosm of the Cards’ day – yes, it was up and down. But in the end, it was good enough.

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36 Responses to “Lions aftermath”

  1. By Chuck on Dec 20, 2009 | Reply

    It cracks me up how ‘little’ positive attention Q gets. I think that Fitz and Q are both equally good at their trade. Whether it be high flying or the tank..there are none better then Fitz and Q….they both play with amazing emotion….so Q gets p*ssed off more but dear god..that man is a beast… thank god both are on our team…but the praise needs to be spread around a bit more….and oh yeah…nice job by Tim and Beanie on no drops today.

  2. By Kenny on Dec 20, 2009 | Reply


    What did Bryan Robinson say to get TWO 15-yard penalties in a row? You posted a quote from him in your article about the game, so I know you talked to him. What did he say? Obviously that had me and many other Cardinals fans infuriated at the time, although thankfully it didn’t cost us the game. But what did he say?

  3. By darrenurban on Dec 21, 2009 | Reply

    Kenny —

    I don’t know exactly what he said, and Bryan wasn’t exactly spelling it out. I watched the video last night and it had to be purely verbal, because B-Rob never raised his hands or really got overly animated.

  4. By TBru on Dec 21, 2009 | Reply

    It wasn’t pretty but it’s a W

    Congrats from South Carolina to the Division Champs

  5. By matt on Dec 21, 2009 | Reply

    do you know when davis will be able to return? any word recently?

  6. By darrenurban on Dec 21, 2009 | Reply

    Matt —

    I will look into it, but Will still isn’t doing a ton, so I’d guess we’re still at least a couple weeks away.

  7. By TBru on Dec 21, 2009 | Reply

    ok, hypothetical time

    Cards win the next two, Vikings loose the next two and Philly splits. What is the tie breaker scenario? We would take the Vikings on head to head but what about the Eagles?

  8. By darrenurban on Dec 21, 2009 | Reply

    TBru —

    I will try to decipher that for you later today.

  9. By david t on Dec 21, 2009 | Reply

    NOW WHAT ???






  10. By Card4Ever on Dec 21, 2009 | Reply

    Mr. Urban why is the team not prepared to play? We can defend our title. We have to play like it. Whiz should make sure of that and he should know that struggling with the Lions won’t cut it.

  11. By darrenurban on Dec 21, 2009 | Reply

    Card4Ever —

    Was it their best performance of the season? No. But they were up 17-0. It’s hard to argue they weren’t prepared to play.

  12. By Doug Hart on Dec 21, 2009 | Reply

    Darren – Thanks for the report and Congrats to our 2009 NFC West Champions! I noticed looking at the pictures from the team charter that they don’t even reconfigure the airplane by removing some of the seats to accomodate the unusually large passengers. Is this normal travel?

  13. By darrenurban on Dec 21, 2009 | Reply

    Doug —

    The plane we travel on is a regular jet. No one has to deal with someone sitting in the middle, but otherwise, you’re right, it’s not reconfigured. Delta uses whichever plane we take in its regular rotation.

  14. By Greg on Dec 21, 2009 | Reply

    The TV announcers mentioned that Gandy had surgery and I don’t recall reading that anywhere. Is that true?

  15. By darrenurban on Dec 21, 2009 | Reply

    Greg —

    It is true. Read this.

  16. By Secret on Dec 21, 2009 | Reply

    Thanks for taking the time to answer our questions! It means a lot to us fans to have someone who is close to the cardinals reply back. Thank you! 🙂

  17. By LUKE on Dec 21, 2009 | Reply

    it was ugly but a win is a win.that just shows how little of a spread there is between any nfl team.i thought detroit fought hard !

  18. By Ottis Anderson Fan on Dec 21, 2009 | Reply

    Well, we certainly aren’t going to scare anyone going into the playoffs after games like this and the 49ers game, but then again we certainly didn’t scare anyone last season, and we ended up the in the Super Bowl. But as defending NFC champs, teams aren’t going to underestimate us in playoffs like they did last year, which will make the road tougher (which is why a bye week would have been nice).

    I hope we can get a 10th win next week, and then rest Kurt the final game against the Packers. He certainly doesn’t look like he did against the Vikings when he was coming off a week of rest.

    Watching the Packers/Steelers game last night up here in Wisconsin was like deja-vu all over again, but not quite as painful. The Packers couldn’t get Big Ben down and he made their prevent defense pay for it. At least the Packers have two games left in their season to make up for it.

  19. By Ottis Anderson Fan on Dec 21, 2009 | Reply

    Whiz and the team have accomplished their goal of winning the division and making the playoffs. Next season, they have to raise the bar and not be content with just winning the division, but to win the division AND earn a first-round bye. That’s really important when your quarterback is 38+ years old.

    After the Minnesota game last night, the Cards two losses in clunker games against Carolina and San Francisco are suddenly harder to forget. With the division now won, those lost opportunities suddenly seem more important than when the team was content to forget those losses because there were still more games to be played and the division lead was still in hand. Had those two games been won, the Cards would be 11-3 and tied with Minnesota and in the thick of things for a first-round bye to get everyone rested.

    There are only 16 games in the NFL season – not 162 or even 82. If this team continues to expect to make the playoffs as they well should, then they have to know GOING INTO EVERY GAME that every game and every loss is going to have ramifications for their path to the championship game when the playoffs start.

    But that is next year and this is this year. The Cards are in the playoffs with two regular season games remaining with a very real chance at 11-5. The team is improving physically and mentally, and Whiz hasn’t even finished his third year as coach. While Whiz would like to win them all, I believe he knows what the realistic expectations are for his team and staff at this point in their development. Not letting his team get too high or too low is critical to their success/development and Whiz has been outstanding in that regard.

    Here’s to another successful postseason run!!! Did I really say, “another?” 🙂

  20. By Jeff Gollin on Dec 21, 2009 | Reply

    Bill Parcells was fond of saying that part of “learning how to win” is “knowing what can cause you to lose – and then avoiding those things.”

    When you are up 17 – 0, everyone (but especially your QB) should understand the importance of expanding that lead to 20 – 0, 23 – 0 or maybe even 24 – 0. This means “taking the easy points” and not leaving them on the field.

    Warner’s fumble and then the Delmas Pick 6 took 6 – 10 easy points off the board and got the Lions and the fans in the stands all riled up. Really good teams don’t allow that to happen.

    The Cards (especially Kurt) need to adopt a “healthy paranoia.” when they’re up by three scores. Kurt should be tellling himself – “Eat the ball or throw it away if necessary. Don’t try to force it” Be happy with the 3.” When Beanie or THT is making the extra effort, the inner voice should be whispering: “two hands, dude.” On special teams, the watchwords should be: “No penalties!” “Protect your lane!”

    And coaches and fellow players should be reminding themselves and one another all the time.

    A really good team would have expanded that 17 – 0 lead to 20 – 0, 23 or 24 – 0 and gradually sucked all the positive energy from the Lions and their fans…and then won going away. That’s when you can give your backups some playing time in the 4Q and stuff like that.

    My point – It wasn’t a lack of energy, intensity or focus in the second half, it was mind-set. (Not enough healthy paranoia). This can be learned. I think we’re going to need it if we’re to make it back to the Super Bowl and then win it.

    Ciao. Happy Holidays (free from the stress of having to game-out the final 2 AZ and SF contests).


  21. By Jesus on Dec 21, 2009 | Reply

    Can the team fine Robinson foe being an idiot and giving up 30 yards of stupid panalties putting the other team in fieldgoal range to tie the game up. I dodn’t care how mad your are put the team first

  22. By CardsFan on Dec 21, 2009 | Reply

    TBru – it depends on who Philly would lose to. If it’s Denver and they beat Dallas, they’d get the 2nd seed on conf record (10-2 to the Cards’ 9-3 and Minn’s 8-4). If Philly beats Denver and loses to Dallas, I believe it would then go to W-L record in common games between Philly and AZ (Minn would be eliminated from conf record) if they have 4+ common opponents, which I’m too lazy to figure right now, but would probably favor Philly due to them beating SF and us losing twice to.

  23. By William Lutz on Dec 21, 2009 | Reply

    Was Bryan Robinson also ejected from the game? From where I was seated at the stadium, I couldn’t tell from the official’s announcement (the crowd noise was acutally loud). I was happy to see a lot of Cardinals fan in Detriot; glad they were able to go home happy!

  24. By darrenurban on Dec 21, 2009 | Reply

    William —

    Bryan was not ejected. He just was flagged twice.

  25. By Myke Locksmith on Dec 21, 2009 | Reply

    How do they go from dominating a team like Minnesota to collapsing against San Fran then struggle against a terrible team like Detroit? This I suggest fans wear protective headgear this postseason as they will surely be slamming the palms of their hands into their foreheads. Get ready for another disappointing finish. Yeah yeah, I know most of you will insist last season was no disappointment, but that’s because you’re used to being losers, so 2nd place doesn’t seem so bad. The good news is, you can, at least, be competitive in Madden Football.

  26. By JP on Dec 21, 2009 | Reply

    After 20 plus years as a valley resident and loyal Cardinal fan, its been great following your posts this year and last as the Cards rose from mediocrity to the SB, and now repeat as Division Champs. Its hard to understand why some fans are so “glass half empty”. For a Cards fan, what we are seeing right now is truly special.
    Do you realize that only Minnesota and the Cards are repeating as Division Champs this year in the NFC? As far as playoffs..Atlanta-out. Giants-likely out. Carolina-out. Vikes, Eagles and Cards are only teams in NFC playoffs last year to be back this time.
    Even during this run, the team has always been erratic. Bad losses and unsatisfying wins are going to happen with this team-but so are big wins that show we can play with anyone, anywhere. The keys are: 1. whether the Cards can regain the focus it has in the 2008 post season it needs to excell in the playoffs this year, and 2. whether Kurt is right.
    I am very confident about no 1, and I feel pretty good about no 2, even after bad performances in the last 2 games, primarily due to how stellar Warner played against the Vikings.
    Please give us fans some “birdseed” on Warner–I am pretty sure the Card Nation is generally pretty interested in this and would appreciate what you can bring to us. Keep up the great work!

  27. By darrenurban on Dec 21, 2009 | Reply

    JP —

    I know everyone is worried about Kurt. It’s natural to ask questions about the quarterback. He didn’t look particularly sharp Sunday. That said, I think he looked better than Brett Favre and, arguably, Drew Brees. He’ll have a chance to right himself against the Rams. I don’t really have any insight, other than to say at this time last year he wasn’t great (loss to Minnesota in Game 14, and then loss in NE in game 15) before playing a half against Seattle. Then came the playoffs, and wow.

  28. By Patti V, CA fan on Dec 21, 2009 | Reply

    Everybody’s worried about Kurt. Has anyone said how Levi Brown continues to be a turnstile, or how Kurt was hit, hurried or sacked for most of the last 2 games. Look at Manning, Brees and Favre when their line is not doing its job. Vikings lost last 2 of 3 with the “great” QB!! Protect the QB, that should be a higher priority than we’ve seen. And, how does a coach leave B. Robinson in after two personal fouls. Seems like that says to the player, no problem, do it again if you feel like it!

  29. By NM Cards Fan on Dec 21, 2009 | Reply

    Wasn’t a pretty win. I remember last year, being told we were lucky to barely make it to the playoffs, we were a joke to the rest of the league. Best feeling being a beat up fan all these years was proving it week after week after week. Making it to the Bowl and playing a damn good game.

    Our problem, closing the deal, until we can close a game out we will struggle. I will be a fan win or lose, seen many 1-15 seasons so to have 2 back to back seasons is AWESOME, this is our time. We just have to get behind the team for real, we are not the Cowboys, or Steelers, our fans are real not just jumping on the bandwagon, show it and be at the games OUR team needs us. I drove 7 hours just to see us lose for years in crappy Sun Devil, drove even longer when we were in St. Louis. You want to win it all, RISE UP RED SEA, put your money where your mouth is and be that 12th man!

  30. By Eazy E on Dec 22, 2009 | Reply

    That was definitely a Wendy Williams type game(ugly game) but hey a win is a win. Kurt and the passing game was out of sync at times. Beanie played very well and looked violent. Fitz made a great tip to his self on the fade. Anquan is on fire now, 6 rec 72 yds and a man screen play where your just not going to stop him. O-line was good especially run blocking wise. The D played perfect ball until louis delmas picked that pass in the red zone and went to the endzone. Drc looked real good 2 picks making it 5 for the year passing his impressive total for the time he played last year, I definitely voted for him for the pro bowl and deion said he should get ready for south florida. Our secondary as a whole is looking so strong together. Mike Nugent really did good kickoff and field goals. St. Louis is next, we need to dominate a poor team and in division, pad those stats men.

  31. By Kenny on Dec 22, 2009 | Reply

    Hey NM Cards Fan,

    The Cardinals have never finished 1-15. The last time they only won one game was 1953, when they were 1-10-1. But I’m sure you’re a real fan.

  32. By Former Steeler Fan on Dec 22, 2009 | Reply

    I may have to eat crow again (as I did after saying that the Cards wouldn’t beat the Vikes), but I doubt that they will go past the first playoff game (if that) if the run defense doesn’t improve. I read recently that they were 26th in the NFL against the run (and, that was before allowing mucho yards by the Lions).

    I may sound like a broken record, but PASS THE #### BALL TO THE TIGHT ENDS occasionally!!! I know that the Cards have exceptional wide-outs, but let’s give the defenses something else to think about.

  33. By joe67 on Dec 22, 2009 | Reply

    You are right Kenney. Never that bad. Followed since ’67, and tho I wasn’t able to follow much the first few years in AZ, the worst I remember is 4 win seasons. One of the problems, they were never so terrible they could get the top 1,2 or 3 pik.

  34. By NM Cards Fan on Dec 22, 2009 | Reply

    Hey Kenny I am a real fan, and the 1 and 15 was an over statement to the trials we have all felt, similar to what it is like to be a Lions fan or a Rams fan, we have had more downs than ups. At every home game, have been since they moved to Arizona, don’t question my integrity as a fan, I wear my colors, win or lose, always have and always will and probably buried in them.

  35. By NM Cards Fan on Dec 22, 2009 | Reply

    Kenny you may not have felt all the years we didn’t have good seasons since you probably joined the bandwagon last year, that’s why at Sun Devil I was among a handful of fans that showed up, only time attendance was good was when the cowboys or another big team played us.

    I have the skin cancers on my bald head as scars of my 120 degree gamedays. Oh and don’t look up the weather reports, that’s an exaggeration in case you didn’t catch the sarcasm.

  36. By Kenny on Dec 23, 2009 | Reply

    Easy NM. No disrespect intended. It’s just frustrating when people try to paint the Cardinals as even more futile then they’ve actually been. I’m sure you’re a legit fan, as I can assure you I am as well. I was in the stands in ’88 when we tried that ridiculous over-the-shoulder flip fake field goal when Al Del Greco ran backwards and failed to pick up a first down in the first Monday night loss against the Cowboys. And I’ve religiously watched every game since. I think the tattoo on my arm proves my loyalty. Here’s to making another Super Bowl run.

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