Cardinals go from bad to worse after latest meltdown

Posted Oct. 31, 2011 @ 6:14 p.m.
Posted By Dan Arkush

What started out as a very uplifting upset in the making Sunday turned into just the latest demoralizing disaster for a Cardinals team going nowhere fast. That they managed to blow a 21-point second-quarter lead and gained only 56 yards in the second half was bad enough. Making matters much worse were the primary culprits in their sixth straight loss — former Cardinals star WR Anquan Boldin on offense and, on defense, former Arizona State star Terrell Suggs, who many in the desert believe should have been a no-brainer No. 1 pick by the Cardinals back in 2003.

Boldin (seven catches for 145 yards) was flat-out unstoppable in the second half, making the Cardinals' CB trio of A.J. Jefferson, Patrick Peterson and Richard Marshall look silly on the way to setting up three short TD runs by Ray Rice. Suggs, meanwhile, made Cardinals OTs Levi Brown and Brandon Keith look equally silly while registering 13 tackles, four tackles for loss, a sack and two hits on Cardinals QB Kevin Kolb, who limped off the field at the end of the day with a reported case of turf toe.

The PFW spin

Could it get any worse for these Cardinals? Tune in next Sunday, when they begin their November schedule with a home game against the suddenly rejuvenated Rams, fresh off arguably the biggest upset victory in the NFL so far this season over the Saints.

The way things are going, the Cardinals are looking more and more like a potential candidate for the top pick in the 2012 draft. In most observers' eyes, that top pick shapes up as Stanford QB Andrew Luck. But with the Cardinals apparently committed to Kolb, who continues to struggle mightily, a different alternative would seem likely.

In the meantime, look for the Cardinals to keep tweaking their lineup, for better or worse. It's a good bet young OLBs O'Brien Schofield and Sam Acho, who each had a sack and a forced fumble against the Ravens, will get a lot more playing time at the expense of veterans Joey Porter and Clark Haggans. Jefferson, who failed miserably in his attempts to cover Boldin, could be on his way to being replaced in the starting lineup by Marshall, who at least has more experience. Keith, who has been a turnstile more often than not the first half of the season, was replaced by Jeremy Bridges in the fourth quarter — a move that many close observers suspect might become permanent.

Beyond that, there doesn't seem to be any remedy for the major meltdown in the desert. Forget the fact that RB Beanie Wells showed considerable gumption while operating on a knee Sunday that obviously wasn't 100 percent. Same goes for the fact that four of the Cardinals' losses have been by four points or fewer.

Short of one of the all-time great turnarounds in NFL history, this season already looks like a lost cause for the Cardinals with a little more than half of their games remaining.