Gambo: Start with the defense in the debacle at Atlanta
The most difficult question following the Cardinals embarrassing 41-7 loss to the Atlanta Falcons was which was worse, the offense or the defense?
You can make a case for either one but I’ll go with the defense here as it allowed the Falcons rush for 221 yards and pass for 225. A truly pathetic performance.
What sticks out more than anything is the amount of big plays the Falcons had on offense. If you consider a big running play anything of five or more yards and a big pass play anything of 10 or more yards, the Cardinals gave up a whopping 28 big plays.
Atlanta had 17 runs of five or more yards, including six of 10 or more yards. And they had 11 pass plays of 10 or more yards.
I guess you can say Atlanta was pretty balanced in beating the Cardinals to a pulp. By the way this was the same Atlanta team that could not run the ball against the Steelers last week, totaling 58 yards rushing.
But who can run against that Pittsburgh Defense? See Chris Johnson this week.
What was surprising was how easily Atlanta controlled the line of scrimmage. Darnell Dockett was a non-factor being controlled by right tackle Tyson Clabo.
In the secondary, shutdown corner Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie struggled in coverage vs Roddy White (7 receptions for 78 yards and a touchdown). That Jason Snelling, a relative unknown, rushed for 129 yards and two scores, is not that surprising when you see how many holes were opened by the offensive line and how hard he hit them. Snelling is a power runner and when Michael Turner went out in the first half not to return it was Snelling who carried the load. While not a household name, Snelling did have 147 yards rushing against Tampa Bay in the season finale last year so its not like this performance came out of nowhere.
What was most embarrassing for Arizona was the 11 play, 78-yard drive that culminated in Snelling’s 7-yard touchdown run and put Atlanta up 41-7 in the fourth quarter. That drive featured the Falcons running the ball on all 11 plays all the way down the field taking up almost seven minutes. It was typical in your face smash-mouth football and Arizona couldn’t stop it. On their final possession Atlanta took over at the Arizona 5-yard line with 2:25 left in the game and preceded to take a knee four straight times only to give the ball back to Arizona with 31 seconds left. How often have you ever seen a team beat an opponent so badly that they took a knee only to give the ball back. That rarely if ever happens. So while there is a lot of blame to go around for this debacle I say we start with the defense or in this case lack of it.