In this first meeting between these two division rivals, emotions and tempers flared often throughout the day. The Cardinals were delivered an ugly 23-7 loss. It is the fifth straight loss the Cardinals have suffered at the hands of the 49ers.
The Cardinal offense was held in check by a stiff 49ers defense for majority of the game. John Skelton got his third consecutive start and looked every bit of the inexperienced backup that he is. His performance has greatly hushed all rumors of a possible quarterback controversy in the valley. Skelton completed six passes for 99 yards and had three interceptions. He finished with a QB rating of 10.5. I don’t know of it was the hostility of the crowd, the moist field conditions, or the intensity each team brings for this rivalry, but Skelton looked confused from the very first offensive snap of the game till he was removed in the fourth quarter and replaced by Rich Bartel. Take away Larry Fitzgerald from this offense and it would be hard for anybody to succeed. San Francisco was able to do just that by surrounding Larry with double, sometimes triple coverage. Forcing Skelton to consistently try to force throws that weren’t there or check down to another receiver. This team desperately needs a true number two receiver opposite of Fitzgerald. Three number three’s will never equal a true number two.
Beanie Wells’ struggles are mystifying and quite infuriating to say the least. I understand he is playing with an injury, but when you rush for 89 yards and a touchdown against a top five defense as he did against the Ravens in week six, you’ve got to wonder if there is a bigger issue. Wells has rushed for 20, 62, and 33 yards in the last three games they have played. Chester Taylor and LaRod Stephens-Howling have seen very limited playing time thus far in the season. With Wells’ poor showings the last three weeks hopefully this trend changes until he can get right.
The defense and special teams play was quite more encouraging. Calais Campbell is quickly becoming the anchor of the D-line in defensive coordinator Ray Horton’s defense. It’s his play on special teams that is getting him the recognition. Campbell blocked yet another field goal attempt, making it three blocked kicks this year. Patrick Peterson also got his hand on one late in the second quarter. With these two plays from special teams and the ferocious play from the defense the score was a close 9-0 at halftime, but when the defensive unit plays 45 minutes of a 60 minute game on the field, there will be some mistakes made. NT Dan Williams will miss the remainder of the season due to a broken left arm suffered in the fourth quarter.
As this loss puts the team at a 3-7 record, it’s hard not to start looking forward to next season. Stay strong Cardinal fans.