The number of the day was six for the Arizona Cardinals on Sunday. That's how many takeaways Ray Horton's defense had and also the current length of the team's losing streak.
Quarterback Matt Ryan threw five interceptions and running back Jason Snelling added a third-quarter fumble to complete the Falcons' worst offensive performance of the 2012 season. At no point in his career before Sunday had Ryan thrown more than three interceptions in a game.
Fortunately for Atlanta, neither Ryan nor Snelling will have to shoulder the blame for a loss as the Cardinals only managed 13 second-chance points off turnovers in a 23-19 loss to the Falcons.
Scoring on three of six drives is OK, but as a team you need touchdowns, not field goals. If Arizona would have turned just one of those field goals into a touchdown, it would have won the game.
Yet it seems like the Cards' story all season has been offensive ineptitude. A total of 56 offensive plays netted Mike Miller's offense a minuscule 3.2 yards per play. The Cards' 178 yards of total offense against a team that has only lost one game will definitely not get the job done.
And what was with Ken Whisenhunt's decision to pull quarterback John Skelton with a 13-3 lead? Did Whisenhunt really think rookie Ryan Lindley gave his team a better chance at preserving a lead? What was his justification for making that call?
Sure, Skelton had struggled early, completing only two of his first seven passes for six yards. Yet, seven throws into the game is a little premature. This one will leave me scratching my head as absolutely nothing changed when Lindley entered the game.
He completed 9-of-20 throws for 64 yards for a quarterback rating of 52.9. Not to mention that he stared down his primary receiver on every play—a typical move for most young quarterbacks. Even though the Falcons didn't manage an interception, they easily could have had three or four.
By digging into the offensive numbers, you realize the Cardinals only had two third-down conversions, none in the first half. Going 2-of-16 on third down is awful in every sense of the word.
Moreover, Arizona struggled picking up first downs as well. By game's end, the Cardinals had managed to put together a measly seven first downs, their lowest output of the season.
This week's loss marked the first time they hadn't managed to pick up at least 10 first downs in a game.
With Whisenhunt now hitching his wagon to the rookie Lindley, it appears there is no turning back. If the Cardinals want to have any chance of winning more than one game the rest of the season, they better hope Kevin Kolb is close to returning.
Lindley should get better with more playing time, yet time is running out on the Cards' season. They are now 4-6 and their playoff hopes are disappearing week by week.
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