The Cards loss to the Niners by the numbers:
7—Turnovers by the Cardinals
10—Penalties by the Cardinals
11—First downs by the Cardinals
167—Rushing Yards by Frank Gore
0—chance to win when you add up all the numbers listed above
Millions and Millions—Football fans who are feeling like the Cardinals just plain fooled them last week against the Vikings.
I thought this was to be the Cardinals coronation. A time for them to validate their (at the time) defining victory over Minnesota by trouncing the 49ers, lock away the division, gain a large measure of revenge over a division rival and announce to the NFL that they were truly poised to make a run.
Instead they played the role of the piñata for three hours, with Mike Tirico, Jon Gruden and Ron Jaworski each taking a turn bashing them with a stick until their was nothing left but a mangled frame hanging from a rope.
What an absolute disaster: All 24 San Francisco points came off turnovers. The Running Back Fumble Fraternity each had their own moment to forget (17 of the San Francisco points came off the fumbles of Tim Hightower, LaRod Stephens-Howling and Beanie Wells). Kurt Warner, who clearly had some sort of weird flash forward in which he actually signed with the 49ers; otherwise why keep throwing the ball to them. Penalty after penalty. The frightening sight of Larry Fitzgerald going into the tunnel for X-Rays (that might have been the only good news tonight—he did come back out on the field).
Were they too amped up? I think that explains part of it, especially the penalties. Were they full of themselves after the Vikings game? That will be the convenient truth but I would have thought that their motivation to do well in this game, in this moment, would have overruled that.
Maybe the truth is simpler, even than that. Maybe, they just can’t win unless Kurt Warner is great. In the Cardinals five losses he either didn’t play (Tennessee) or had a QB rating that was no higher than 67.2 (67.2 vs. SF, 67.1 vs. Indy, 47.8 vs. the Panthers, 44.9 vs. SF on Monday Night). The only game they won this year where Warner’s passer rating was below 100 was the Giants game (72.8). It’s not to put all of tonight on Kurt (the Running Back Fumble Fraternity wasn’t his responsibility), but Warner was never good enough to even come close to overcoming that.
So now what? Good luck getting this one out of your system anytime soon. All that national cred that you earned a week ago? Well, it’s kinda like winning a big hand in blackjack and letting it ride on the next hand. And you busted.
They’ll still win the division (the Niners go to Philly next week while the Cards have the Lions and Rams in back to back weeks). And as we know full well, when the playoffs start anything can happen.
The Cardinals are still capable of beating just about anybody just about anywhere. And that includes themselves, as they did on Monday Night Football.