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Mistakes blamed for Arizona’s slim loss at ‘Skins
TEMPE, ARIZ. (AP) - Take any one of an assortment of mistakes out of Arizona’s one-point loss at Washington _ a penalty here, a turnover there _ and the Cardinals would be the only 2-0 team in the NFC West.
Coach Ken Whisenhunt found much not to like after reviewing the video of the 22-21 loss, yet he also came away with the knowledge, as he put it, that “there’s a good team in there somewhere.”
“We didn’t play our best yesterday and still found a way to make enough plays to stay in the game and give ourselves a chance to win,” Whisenhunt said Monday.
The defense had another tough day statistically, giving up 455 yards. Still, the yards didn’t translate into an avalanche in points, thanks to early interceptions by Adrian Wilson and Richard Marshall and a blocked field goal by Calais Campbell. Despite being outgained 253-85 in the first half, the Cardinals trailed only 10-7 at the break.
Still, defense remains a work in progress under Whisenhunt’s third coordinator in his five seasons in Arizona, Ray Horton, who has installed the Pittsburgh Steelers‘ scheme, without the players or the time to work out the kinks.
“We made a number of good plays defensively,” Whisenhunt said. “When we’re on the same page, and guys are understanding what we’re doing, we’re a pretty good defense. But when we make our bad plays, they’re really bad. We’re dropping coverage, we’re not hitting the right gaps, we’re not stepping the right way with blitzes. All of those are things we’ve got to get cleaned up. It’s a function of not having been in the scheme for too long.”
While Whisenhunt said he thought his young cornerbacks Patrick Peterson and A.J. Jefferson improved from their play in the previous week’s season-opening victory over Carolina, the defense overall didn’t get those good marks, especially when it came to penalties.
Arizona was penalized 10 times for 97 yards compared with Washington’s three for 15 yards.
Offensive penalties were costly but could at least be attributed to the noise at FedEx Field.
“We didn’t have a tremendous amount of offensive penalties yesterday but when they hit us they hit us a couple of times when we were deep in our territory. we had a grounding, we had a false start and it makes it tough for us to convert third downs which is something that you have to be able to do to sustain long drives. But in general we had too many penalties yesterday, period, and the defense had some dumb ones.
Beanie Wells flirted with a 100-yard rushing game for the second week in a row, gaining 93 yards on 14 carries, an average of 6.6 per attempt.
Kevin Kolb got the first of what he expects to be many big-play connections with Larry Fitzgerald, a 73-yarder for a touchdown that put the Cardinals ahead 21-13 with 10:58 to play. Kolb didn’t see it as he was flattened on the play. No matter, he said.
“I hope they understand how much this means to me,” Kolb said at his locker on Monday. “It’s worth it for me to take that hit for that kind of play.”
He will have more noise to contend with this Sunday, when the Cardinals play at winless Seattle in one of the noisiest venues in the NFL.
By Donald Lambro
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