Field Gulls reader CrossCech and I decided recently to collaborate on a little project, which aims to review each of Seattle's five regular season losses from 2012, take notes, and compare and contrast our thoughts. Since this is a blog, which features writing and whatnot, about football and whatnot, we decided to publish it here. So, here's part one of what should be a five-part series (and we might do the Atlanta game too, I guess). Hopefully it's not too painful to read. Oh, and my thoughts in particular will probably be pretty disjointed and drifting in and out of tenses and timeframes. Sorry about that.
My in-game notes in italics, complemented by my follow up thoughts in not italics.
- Seahawks and Cardinals getting really chippy in this one. Obviously this was early in the year, before Arizona knew they were going to be awful (started 4-0, actually).
This was a common theme throughout the whole game. Patrick Peterson and Sidney Rice went at each other pretty hard, talking mess, Marshawn Lynch and Adrian Wilson got in a few scuffles, the offensive line and defensive lines were chippy. These teams don't like each other - it's almost more chippy than I remember the Seattle-San Francisco games being, which is pretty interesting.
- Sweezy at RG, McQuistan at LG. Braylon Edwards a focal point of the offense, weirdly enough.
J.R. Sweezy started this game at right guard, only months after being selected in the 7th round as a defensive tackle out of North Carolina State and switching to offense. He started out okay - didn't make any egregious mistakes or give up any bullrushes, but later on he struggled. Braylon Edwards got the start over Golden Tate (I believe he was injured), and ended the game tied with Sidney Rice with 9 targets. I imagine part of the reasoning behind going with Edwards was that he's a big, long target with experience in the league, and could help Russell Wilson's transition.
I think back to playing hoops in High School, and it always helped to have at least one calming presence and influence in the form of an upper classman on the floor. Too many young, jittery players on the court at the same time could lead to huge momentum swings after mistakes -- for whatever reason, experience 'being there' can help the on-field mood of the team. A similar thing happens in the playoffs - teams with veteran experience in big playoff games seem to be a little less nervous or tight. Maybe this is why Pete Carroll and Darrell Bevell featured Edwards so much. Or maybe their depth at WR just sucked.
The main point here -- this Week 1 team looked way, way different than the end-of-season iteration.
- Seahawks used a lot of pure I-formation and offset-I at the onset - not very effective against Arizona's attacking defense.
As I said - this team just looked different early on in the season. Seattle still used the I-formation stuff throughout the year, of course, but perused more 3-wide looks, shotgun looks, obviously the read-option looks, and even some pistol as the year went on. This is all, obviously, because Russell Wilson was playing with a very pared-down version of the playsheet. It's pretty noticeable watching this game though. Super boring approach.
- First run of Robert Turbin's career - looks like he picked a really awful lane when there was an opening one gap over (and behind his 'fullback' in Zach Miller). Stuffed. Telecast shows a fact that Turbin was the WAC player of the year in 2011 - interesting. You can forget how dominant players were at the previous level when they're inserted into an NFL offense as a role player. Will be interesting to see Turbin's development in 2013.
Just to jump back to modern times - man, it's going to be fun to watch this backfield in 2013. I really like the idea of Seattle - Pete Carroll and Tom Cable - just imposing their will on opponents, and it's more easily accomplished by successfully running the ball. You can throw it all over the yard, and that's certainly demoralizing, but when you can just run it and run it and run it and run it and then throw it deep for a touchdown - that seems even more demoralizing because you control the clock and the scoreboard. When you throw it to score, you give the ball to the other team. When you run to score, you wear out an opposing defense, physically and mentally.
With Lynch returning to form, or somewhere near it, in 2013, plus continued development of Robert Turbin as a change of pace, and sprinkling in Christine Michael for good measure, this Seahawks' backfield is going to be seemingly fresh all game. When you add Spencer Ware into the equation as the 'game-finisher' - man, I feel bad for opposing linebackers. There's something so primally satisfying about knocking someone out with body blows. Not sure why. Just picturing landing that kidney shot after 12 rounds of back and forth, and seeing your opponent crumple to the canvas. We don't even need to swing for your head.
- Patrick Peterson matched up in man defense on Sidney Rice to begin with - following him around the field. Played Rice well - though he was flagged on first deep bomb by Wilson in which he held Rice up on his route. 2nd Rice target though, Peterson stuck to him like glue. Rice obviously not a separation receiver, more like a body positioning and length possession guy. Struck me early in this one that Cards won't have the luxury of just matching Peterson up against Seattle's top wideout with the emergence of Golden Tate and the addition of Percy Harvin. Doug Baldwin should be a factor as well.
Thank god Braylon Edwards isn't Seattle's #2 receiver anymore, amirite? Everytime Sidney Rice dives for a ball, I grimace thinking he's going to dislocate his shoulder, but nonetheless, he makes several nice diving catches in this game, and comes up spinning the football. Which is a nice foreshadowing for his year to come.
- Hauschka kicks so lazily by appearance. He pulls his first attempt of the year, and it's short. May have been nicked by a Cardinal at the line.
I think I heard an interview with Hauschka that said they'd tried giving him a little more 'oomphf' into his kicks but that wildly affected his accuracy - instead they tell him to just kick it in a relaxed fashion and apparently that works for accuracy. This is probably a big reason they don't trust him to kick it more than 50 yards or so.
- Seahawks' defense forces a turnover on 2nd defensive play of their season. Recover the fumble by Ryan Williams. Mebane emerges from the pileup with the football, running to the sideline with the ball in his hand and his helmet conspicuously missing in action.
2nd defensive play of the season is a turnover. That's pretty great. Mebane does his best flying-airplane impression with the football and his helmet is nowhere to be seen. Remember Ryan Williams? I guess he'll be the Cards' starter this year - though they have beefed up the depth through the draft and free agency - nabbing Stepfan Taylor, Andre Ellington and signing Rashard Mendenhall. Damn, come to think of it, their backfield is pretty good now, in theory.
- On first down, Seattle does something that I always like to see - line Sidney Rice up in the slot out of '02' personnel - two tight ends and no backs, in shotgun. With Zach Miller out to the far left wing, Doug Baldwin in the slot and Rice in the tight slot left, and Anthony McCoy in the slot right with Braylon Edwards to the far right wing, Rice draws a matchup with AZ LB Reggie Walker. Rice on a LB is a matchup Seattle is looking to create here, and it gets them an easy first down as Rice runs a quick little 10-yard out route.
Not much to add other than it's a nice use of personnel groupings to force a mismatch - with Arizona sticking to matchups based on positioning of the formation - the corners were outside on tight ends, and a linebacker got the unenviable job of matching up against Rice. First down, and it looked super easy.
- Seahawks still running a lot of I-formation stuff and it finally works for them. McQuistan does a superb job of reaching Calais Campbell and driving him downfield with quick steps and perfect hand placement, and this creates a massive crease for the run (McQuistan subsequently slams Campbell into the turf with authority) and Mike Rob leads the way off left guard through the B-gap. Lynch bowls over a Cardinals defender on his way to a first down. McQuistan talks a little mess to Campbell.
One of the best one-on-one blocks I've seen McQuistan make, ever. This had to be a play that stuck out in the mind of Hugh Millen when he said early on that McQuistan was playing at a pro-bowl level. I think his play leveled out as the year went on, and he switched to the right side for a while too (which he wasn't as good at), but it's nice to get quality play from a role player like McQuistan.
- Part one of the Seahawks' backwards pass escapades ends with the ball rolling mercyfully out of bounds.
God, remember when they kept doing that? Stop it.
- Seahawks run power-O for Russell Wilson on the 3rd down keeper, with Okung pulling to the left and Braylon Edwards cracking back against the D-end. Despite some lead blockers and a great crackback by Edwards, the play ends up short (mostly due to a really good job by the Cardinals' secondary). I remember hating this play so much at the time because I wanted Wilson to be a thrower, first and foremost, and here they are drawing up power-O for Wilson on 3rd down. In hindsight, especially considering all the read-option stuff they did later on, it was a pretty cool play call, but it was brilliantly defended. Hauschka hits his field goal and Seattle takes their first lead, 3-0.
When you go back and watch the replay of this, it really should have worked. Can't say it enough, the Cards defended it brilliantly, because Wilson had two to three blockers right in front of him on the edge. Oh well. Glimpse of what was to come, in terms of their willingness to use Wilson's legs. It also softens my opinion of this play knowing that Wilson can throw the ball with the best of them. I was afraid that at the time this was going to become too much of a trend on third down.
- Remember Jason Jones and his third-down amoeba lurking about? Forgot about him, kind of.
It's a little weird to think that Jason Jones was a Seahawk this season because he played in a sub-package role and then obviously went to the IR before the year was up. He was effective in this game, getting penetration and knocking down at least one pass late, but I guess the Seahawks figured they could get production from someone else at that spot going forward. They also obviously weren't going to give Jones three years, like the Lions did.
- Cards engineer a nice little drive, using mostly quick, short passes underneath and out-routes. Seahawks tighten up inside the five-yard line though, and hold Arizona to three.
Bend but don't break. If you remember, this goal-line stand was punctuated by John Skelton's quick little pitch attempt to his wide-open running back, which ended up sailing over his head. Phew.
- Seattle gets some luck on their next drive in the form of some Cardinals penalties, extending the drive when it would have otherwise been dead.
- Russell Wilson's first two deep passes sail way out of bounds, way off target. Glad that was likely first-game jitters and not the sign of things to come.
Yeah, his first two 'deep' passes were awful. Looked awkward throwing them, and they sailed way out of bounds by like five yards. Maybe jitters?
- Seahawks O-Line pretty pourous on this drive - looks like Breno screwed up one assignment and Sweezy a couple himself. Looks less like they're getting beat physically and more like they're not all on the same page. First game incongruity is very apparent. This is why going into this year there should be a little excitement about the continuity on that line.
Just some weird stuff going on when you watch this in All-22. Like, Breno/Sweezy running directly out of the way of Darnell Dockett or whoever, just letting them walk into the backfield. Very obviously something going on with protection calls, and one player (or more) zigging when they should have zagged. That stuff is pretty predictable in the first game of the year, I guess, especially for that thrown-together line.
- Todd Heap catches a pass over the middle in the redzone, and Kam drags him down by his face mask. Heap must hate Kam.
I legitimately wonder if Heap hates Kam.
- Chris Clemons is so, so disruptive and has such a good first step. Insane. Red Bryant looked better in this one than I remember him at the end of the year. Same with Brandon Mebane.
Clemons played at a very high level all season, but Bryant and Mebane definitely both faded as the year went on. I think we'll likely see a better rotation this year to try and keep guys healthy and fresh into the end of the year. Finishing strong is Pete Carroll's thang. Mebane was playing at an All Pro level at the beginning of the year, if I remember correctly. Will be fun to see if he can revive that this year.
- Wilson throws a hail-maryish bomb at the end of the half that gets intercepted. It sucks that this counted against his overall season line. Oh well.
Yeah, oh well.
- Marshawn Lynch fumbled, luckily Russell Wilson of all people recovered it, chasing down the play from the backside.
This reminds me that Lynch got all fumbly at the end of the year - particularly when he was improvising past the line, and someone came in and stripped him from behind. This is what happened here. Lynch! Protect the ball!
- Backwards pass shenanigans Part II. Lynch gets decked and the Cards recover.
Originally blown dead, but a challenge flag changes that. The whole backward pass thing was annoying - not sure if the spacing and drop-back by Wilson was screwed up or if they legitimately wanted to throw backward passes, but seems like a very dangerous way to manufacture touches for guys. I think this was pretty much the last time that happened this year though - or at least it didn't become a problem.
- Red Bryant pass breakup on a big third down. Man, if Red can get back to form....
It's easy to forget how good Bryant was in 2011 - the reason he got his big new contract - after he declined quite a bit playing on a torn plantar facia in the 2nd half of 2012. Watching the early games from '12 though, you see a guy who consistently pushes the strong side of the line into the backfield on run plays, disrupting lanes and forces backs to redirect. He also had a knack for knocking down passes with his absurdly long arms. Anyway, he was pretty disruptive in this one, and it's fun to watch.
- No game is complete without a big Leon return. Actually two of them.
Leon had two big returns that put Seattle into scoring situations - one an 83 yard kickoff return and one a 52-yard punt return. Makes you forget about all those times later in the year when he ran the ball out from 9 yards deep in the endzone.
- Sidney Rice Catch Radius touchdown - went up hight to reel it in. That's such a big deal - Rice was big for Wilson on a few plays in this game.
Was just talking to Thomas about how having a couple of 'big' targets is potentially big for Russell Wilson. He's not afraid to pull the trigger, and having a guy that can go up and get it is pretty lethal. Look for Stephen Williams and Darren Fells (or not, since he was cut today) to develop some chemistry with Wilson in training camp, and if that happens, things could get interesting. We already know that Sid Lion is his main target for these types of throws.
- Richard Sherman diving interception - caused by pressure from Chris Clemons.
Skelton throws off his back foot because Clemons closes so quickly on him. Sherman does the WR toe-tap interception thing.
- Ohhhh the Russell Okung false starts.
Heh, I forgot about this. Okung had a ton of penalties this year. Oh well. He doesn't give up sacks.
- Chris Clemons with another strip sack but AZ recovers. Might've been the game there.
Fuck. This was the fourth quarter - and if Seattle had recovered this it might've been a win. Just the way the ball bounces at times. I think Skelton went out two plays later and Kolb came in. Sad face.
- Red Bryant with another batted pass. Bryant!! Playing 3-tech!
Early on, in nickel situations, they'd put Red in at the strongside three-tech, with Jason Jones outside of him at DE. Bryant, on this play, collapsed the pocket a bit and knocked down the pass. Nice.
- Heap catches a first down in the red zone and Kam lights him up, throwing him off his feet. Heap must hate Kam.
I think Kam might hate Heap too.
- Kolb with a ballsy drive. Kudos to him. Seahawks sent pressure right up the middle several times and he stared right down the gun barrel. Bummer for Seattle because that's not really the norm.
Can't really say enough about Kolb's drive. He went out there with gun-slinger's mentality and it worked. Seattle had no answer. They even brought pressure several times too, and I think knocked down two of his passes in the process (one by Bryant, one by Jason Jones). Sometimes the offense just wins. This was that case.
Seattle now looks to answer with a scoring drive of their own.
- Braylon Edwards makes a big first down catch on the first play of the Seahawks subsequent drive. T
Man it's weird seeing Braylon in a Seahawks' uniform.
- Couple major fuck ups right in a row for Sweezy. Breno is not happy with him. Seahawks go to 3rd and 14 and Charly Martin of all people makes a big first down catch. The legend of Russell builds...
Charly Martin!! Holy crap I forgot about that play. Big first down, keeps the dream alive. Wilson was so calm on that play - just stepped back and delivered it downfield.
- Poor Doug Baldwin had a rough game - a couple of missed passes (not dropped, per se, but stuff you typically see him reel in). One play where he had a chance for big yardage, he caught it and darted up field but the play was called dead due to delay of game. Then there was the broken teeth on a near-heroic play in the EZ.
Just a rough start for Doug. His diving miss in the endzone was so, so, so, so close. You can't get a tougher degree-of-difficultly on it - just flat out diving, with full extension.
- Another catch for Edwards on the drive. That's two. Still not going to forgive him for what's to come.
I'm getting mad just in anticipation of this play.
- Wilson hit Lynch a couple times on dumpoffs underneath. Good poise, patience.
Move the sticks, young man.
- Ugh, Sidney Rice misses a potential TD pass but draws the pass interference call on 4th down. Still, Ugh.
Peterson interferes and Rice has the ball hit his hands, bounce off his chest and to the ground. He falls into the endzone without it. Man - that would have been the game there. People forget about this play because it ended up being a penalty that gave them a first and goal from a few yards out, but damn. That could have been the game.
OK - THE FINAL SEQUENCE:
- Fade to Braylon - thrown too lofty and it's batted down. Ugh at having to target Braylon.
Too high of a throw by Wilson. At this point in the year, Wilson's fade route throws are terrible.
- Dart to Doug - so, so, so close to a badass play - but just misses. Breaks his face. Ugh.
This was a hell of a throw by Wilson and a hell of a route by Doug. So close. Man, so many missed chances in this one - I know you can say this about just about any game, and it goes both ways, but Seattle really should have won this game.
- Slant to Braylon - draws a sketchy PI call. I'll take it, but Ugh.
Seattle just looks a little too disjointed - it's disconcerting to watch. Getting lucky with calls.
- New set of downs. My heart hurts.
Yes, that's how I feel even watching it many moons later.
- Run with Lynch up the gut. Huh? Ugh.
Tried to catch them off guard. Darnell Dockett saved the day here - and if he hadn't blown up the play completely, it would've gone in for a score. Credit goes to Dockett there - because that's one hell of a huge stop. Seattle had pretty much everyone else sealed off.
- Fade to Rice - awful throw. Rice bats it down to prevent a pick. Bad throw by Wilson there. Ugh.
Not sure if they were on the same page here - might've been a sight-adjustment by Wilson that Rice didn't pick up on - either way - Sidney runs a fade, and Wilson throws a low, fast ball. Rice breaks it up, luckily.
- Fade to Charly - another awful throw - way too high, Charly looks awkward trying to catch it. Falls hard - I think he got seriously hurt on that play as well. Seattle WRs dropping like flies. Ugh.
I believe Charly bruised his lung or sternum or something on this play. What an ugly play. If it wasn't so sad it'd be really funny.
- Slant to Braylon on fourth down. Right through his hands. I mean, right through them. Total drop. Should've caught it. Ugh.
I don't think people realize how bad of a drop this was. It literally went right through his hands... like he just didn't close them in time. Just right through them. What a bummer. Just watch this over and over and over and over and you will feel worse about your life.
Seahawks 0-1. Should've been 1-0.
Here follows the thoughts of CrossCech. Compare, contrast! Enjoy!
With our defense, I prefer to kick-off to start games and receive at the half, if we can. So I was a little apprehensive when our offense took the field first with a rookie QB. Both teams were definitely chippy. Plenty of shoving, jawing and stare downs. 1st series kind of got off to a weird start, highlighted by Wilson's awkward footwork on his first NFL pass. Seemed like he raced through his reads. If he would have slowed down a bit he'd have seen Rice was wide open immediately in the slot on the right. After looking all over the place, Wilson kind of just arms the throw without stepping towards the target ... looked unnatural to hit Lynch (4th read?) but not before double-clutching the throw. The pass was behind Lynch and bounced high, but luckily into Rice's hands ... which should have been the original target. J As cool as Wilson is (and we come realize later in the season), adrenaline and nerves were definitely running high ... as expected.
I remember thinking "I hope the double-clutching isn't a common thing for him - I don't remember him doing it during preseason."
After a possible bogus P.I. on AZ's Peterson defending Rice later in the 1st offensive series, Wilson is pressured by a blitz on the right side. Lynch picks up the blitz a little sloppy, but Wilson had the opportunity to step forward away from it and make a solid pass. Instead he makes the throw from the end of his drop back, which may have thrown of the timing of the throw. Looked weird to me. Incomplete pass. Series ends with a missed F.G. from 50 yards. Wilson is 1-3 passing, but by all rights should have been 0-3 if Rice doesn't catch the bounce off Lynch.
Nerves and lack of rhythm ... not only Wilson, but from the entire offensive unit is what I saw. Chalked it up to 1st series jitters for Wilson. AZ's defense was amped, but I didn't see that they were controlling the action. Neither team was, in my opinion.
Defense promptly gets a takeaway on the Cards 2nd offensive play. An opportunity to redeem the missed F.G., replace it with the always preferred T.D. and get some momentum! After a couple of 1st downs, Wilson double-clutches again on a backwards pass (his 5th pass so far in the game) that goes incomplete. L He's unsure or not ready to make the throw. Refs missed that call because we should have lost 5-6 yards. Momentum never picked up for us. Settled for a F.G.
Again I remember thinking, "What's up with the double-clutching and is passing backwards going to be a problem now?"
AZ drives for a good 6-7 minutes, but gets held up for a F.G. Nothing seemed wrong on defense. The P.I. call (make up for the one on Peterson perhaps?) helps sustain the drive, but the defense does well.
Again, I'm not seeing either team really assert themselves and momentum seems to be non-existent.
3rd offensive series and things start to get ugly. Giacomini gets in a tussle and both players get offsetting P.F.'s to end the 1st quarter.
At this point, I remember thinking, "$%#^$ here we go again with the stupid drive killing penalties. This drive hasn't even started and we're back to what we're known for from the past 2 seasons!" GRRRRRRR!!!!
Once the 2nd quarter starts and a Lynch run, its 3rd & 5. Wilson steps back and prepares to throw to Edwards. Again, Wilson double-clutches before throwing the ball. Edwards bobbles it a bit and loses a yard before catching it.
Is this awkward, double clutching because Wilson isn't comfortable with his WR's or are his WR's not getting through their routes fast enough? Is this all timing related? I think it is, but not sure. Edwards did eventually get released so ...
The 1st half wasn't very good for Wilson. He was something like 5 for 12 with 2 of those passes that should have been incompletions ... the bounce off Lynch and the bobble by Edwards. And the INT to end the half fluttered it's way down the field. There were THREE separate instances where Wilson seemed unsure/awkward passing the ball - double-clutching. Our Defense did its job, though AZ did score a TD. Didn't see any glaring problems on defense. We had our chances, but didn't capitalize. I still didn't really see either team have the momentum. I guess with AZ's lone TD, they had it for a short while. Just didn't seem the Seahawks were being dominated by the Cards.
Defense holds AZ to a 3 & out to start the 2nd half. Right on! Wilson hands off to Lynch who runs for 8 yards, but loses the ball at the last second. Wilson is there to recover. He gets hammered by 2 AZ defenders.
Then I see something I like! McQuistan and Giacomini come flying in to pop the 2 defenders and get in a few shots in defense of their QB. All too often in the previous 2 years, I saw our OLine let Matty H & TJack get whacked by opponents after a play was dead or during a sack. I'm not saying they let defenders easily sack our QB, but it seemed like if they got sacked, no one cared.
Eventually we get a 1st down. 1st & 10 from our 25. Lynch slides out left and Wilson makes his FIRST REAL ROOKIE MISTAKE by not looking first to see if Lynch was open enough. He throws the ball backwards because he's startled by the AZ defender being in Lynch's grill and it's called incomplete. This is the 2nd backwards pass Wilson has made in this game. AZ wins the ensuing challenge and gets the ball. Once again our Defense holds up and keeps AZ out of the endzone. AZ settles for another FG making it 13-3.
Things start to pick up with Leon running the kickoff back to AZ's 24 yard line. Alright! Basically a redzone opportunity to seize momentum from AZ! Eventually we get to 3rd & 9 from AZ's 10 and Wilson changes things up. He rushes up to the line for a quick snap, gets the ball and everything looks awkward again. Wilson darts his eyes everywhere before seeing Rice open in the middle and sends a high zip-line pass that Rice snags.
I thought to myself, "That was a weirdly executed play, but oh well ... got the TD. Thanks Rice!" Having the benefit of looking back now and watching the play over and over, I realize that Wilson saw that AZ's defense was slow to set up and Edwards was uncovered wide right. I believe he intended to go to Edwards, but since he didn't get the snap quite fast enough he had to look around for more options, before finding Rice. Surely the momentum should being swinging in our direction ... right?
AZ has 1st & 10 from their 20. Skelton steps back and runs from pressure and throws a pass intended to go out of bounds. However, Sherman is there to reel it in ... literally by his shoe laces. Defense does its part to add to the momentum. 1st & 10 from AZ's 34. Let's do this! Some miscommunication between Unger and Wilson leads to a drive killing delay of game penalty and we have to settle for a FG. 13-13. However, our defense does it's best to retain momentum by forcing another 3 & out. Then our offense does it's best to squash it by allowing AZ to return the favor.
4th quarter starts with another double-clutch from Wilson ... this time though a clean, completed pass to Edwards. But the drive peters with a 3 & out.
These double-clutches have to be timing related ... no?
Our defense forces AZ into another 3 & out. Punt to Leon gets returned to the AZ 17. Now's our chance to b*tchslap AZ and take a commanding lead. It's 2nd & 9 (10:25 mark of the 4th) and Wilson motions McCoy to the left when perhaps he should have him put on the right side of the line. McCoy comes back but misses the block of the blitzing outside LB (?). Wilson is called for grounding because he launches it when he realizes he's about to be popped. Kills any chance of getting another TD on the board. Settle instead for the FG.
I'm frustrated, but glad we now have the lead finally. 16-13
Now here comes the dreaded Kolb drive. Skelton gets hurt and Kolb comes in. His first pass is incomplete, but it's clear he's going to throw to Fitz the whole way down the field ... if he can get away with it. Here's the pivotal play of the game in my mind. (8::15 mark of the 4th). It's 2nd & 10 and Fitz is lined up against Leroy Hill?!? Kolb looks off Hill as if he's going to throw to the RB in the right flat, and Hill goes for it. Kolb then comes back to Fitz and hits him for a 1st down. They eventually move down the field and get the go ahead TD.
I remember thinking, "That's odd that Hill is lined up right on Fitz. Here's hoping Leroy knocks him on his butt within those first 5 yards." He doesn't! Just taps him on the shoulder before getting sucked over to the RB. Why doesn't Hill pop him one to get him out of his rhythm before sliding over to the RB? I realize it was 2nd & 9 and the Cards could have picked up the 1st on the next play if this play had been stopped., but it wasn't and I really think it set the tone for the rest of the drive that Kolb was going all out Fitzgerald to get the team down the field.
We got the ball with 5 mins to go. Wilson awkwardly (seems to be a theme? J ) works the team down the field. Gets into a 3rd and 14 and pulls out a first down. But later gets tackled for a loss on 3rd & 5 from AZ's 26 with just under a min to go and has to burn our 2nd timeout. He doesn't see Edwards on his left somewhat open and close to a first down. But then we're helped later with some P.I. calls. Our best / cleanest shot to get the TD was the pass to Baldwin that he just quite couldn't hold on to.
So basically my thoughts on this game was the theme of awkwardness on Wilson's part with some of his throws and running of the offense. Was it the fact that now the games count and the pressure was on for all players to perform? Did Wilson just not have full command of the team and the offensive game plan? Not a deal breaker at this point by any means and I wasn't calling for Flynn to be put in. In fact, there were moments during breaks in the game (penalties or coming back from commercials) and the camera would be on Wilson when he'd be talking with his lineman, seemingly making on field adjustments and his linemen were fully engaged; listening to their leader. Good to see.
Special Teams did it's typical good job, with Leon getting a couple of big returns for great field position. Our defense got 5-6 3 & outs and a couple of critical, gut check stops when our offense made mistakes.
It just didn't go our way with all those chances to put it into the end zone at the end of the game. However, to see Wilson (you can clearly read his lips) saying "I had it!" told me that he shouldered the blame for the loss and that he was going to hit practice harder and take in more film sessions to correct the problem. He was upset about the loss and he should have been. Who doesn't want to win your first NFL game? He wasn't over the top - out-of-control pissed ... which to me was a good sign that he can keep a level head - not too high, not too low. A close loss is frustrating, but it's still a long season at this point. I'll admit though ... I was nervous with Dallas and Green Bay over the next 2 games. Who knew we'd get them both?