It almost reads like a multiple choice question gone awry…
Question: In Week 11, the Atlanta Falcons defeated the AZ Cardinals after the Falcons allowed which of the following to occur:
A) A half-dozen turnovers, including 5 INT’s by Matt Ryan
B) Getting boo’ed at home (dome-not-so-sweet-dome)
C) Allowing LaRod Stephens-Howling to rush for 127 yds (career high)
D) Sleepwalking thru the first quarter
E) All of the above
Considering that each of the multiple choice options actually took place during a 23-19 win by the Falcons, the correct answer is indeed “all of the above.”
“We knew he’d throw us the ball, so it was up to us to just make the plays and make the catches. And we did,” Sam Acho said about Matt Ryan during our Cardinals radio network postgame interview on Arizona Sports 620. “Unfortunately, we were one stop too short.”
Indeed, the Cards defense held the Falcons offense to just a single touchdown. Stating the ultra-obvious, the Big Red D played well enough to win. And the Cards offense left Atlanta with almost a guilty look on its face.
“It’s terrible because of the job that the defense did. On offense, we need to score more points and help them out,” LaRod Stephens-Howling bottom-lined after a career-high rushing effort.
The game plan called for the Cards to pump the A-B-S (brakes) in the A-T-L and bring the skidding to a halt. Thing is, that’s getting tougher as it’s a moving target right now.
“We ran the ball well today, didn’t throw it. Last game, we threw the ball well, but didn’t run it,” head coach Ken Whisenhunt told me after the game. “We have to get a mix where we can do both of them well and move the ball well and make plays.”
And if you don’t make plays? Effective immediately, it doesn’t matter if you’re a 5-time Pro Bowler (Adrian Wilson) or the starting quarterback (John Skelton), the gauge has reached zero-tolerance.
“The message this week was that we were going to make changes at different positions and the quarterback isn’t exempt from that,” Ken Whisenhunt replied when I asked him what prompted replacing John Skelton with rookie Ryan Lindley. “If they’re not making enough plays to win then you have to look and see if the next guy can do that…we had some throws early in the game we missed.”
In fact, in baseball terms, this latest Cards loss is akin to an at-bat where you strike out swinging…after hitting 5 long drives – foul.
“It really is a game that we should’ve won. There are some games where you say you should’ve won and other games where hands down, no question everyone in the locker room and everyone in the stadium knows you should’ve won that game,” Acho said. “That’s the toughest part about games like that.”
Then I suppose this wouldn’t be a good time to mention to Cards defenders that Matt Ryan just became the first quarterback since Green Bay’s Bart Starr in 1967 to win a game despite throwing five interceptions and no touchdowns, according to Stats LLC.
“We were kind of sleepwalking thru the first quarter of the football game,” Falcons head coach Mike Smith stated. “It shows our resiliency, that’s what it shows. We’re a very resilient football team that is going to find different ways to win.”
Well, the Cards sixth straight loss was, uh, different alright. As in – all of the above.