|GOLDBERG ON FOOTBALL: Same old Cards or a route to something new?|
|Written by Admin|
|Sunday, 23 September 2007 13:42|
- These are the same old Cardinals. They come from 17 points down in the fourth quarter to tie, then lose in the final seconds after a questionable call by an official. No luck, bad calls, lose, lose, lose.
- Or, these are the new Cardinals because of that 17-point comeback, engineered by the venerable Kurt Warner after Matt Leinart struggled. Credit Ken Whisenhunt, the new coach for that. He had a no-huddle offense he was willing to use only with the 36-year-old Warner because he knew the Baltimore defense can be extremely difficult for a young QB. So Whisenhunt didn't want to place the extra burden on Leinart.
Let's go with the second possibility for now and give Whisenhunt the credit for an innovative game plan that allowed him to go with a two-time NFL MVP and get back in the game.
``This is a very difficult defense for a young quarterback to play against,'' said Whisenhunt, who knows the Ravens well from his days in the NFC North as Pittsburgh's offensive coordinator. ``We put in the no-huddle package for Kurt because of his experience.''
It was a funny game.
The Ravens took their 23-6 lead with their experienced QB, Steve McNair, while the Cardinals were going nowhere with Leinart, who was making his 14th NFL start. The Cardinals came back with Warner after McNair was lifted for Kyle Boller because Ravens coach Brian Billlick was worried his veteran's troublesome groin was acting up. Billick feared further injury by McNair.
So even while Boller drove the Ravens 52 yards for Matt Stover's winning 46-yard field goal after Neil Rackers had tied the game with a 41-yarder for Arizona, the advantage went to the veterans.
McNair, not Boller, was the quarterback when the Ravens took their big lead, while Warner was 15-of-20 for 258 yards and two touchdowns in the comeback. Warner's passer rating was 150, just 3.8 points short of perfection.
And the Ravens' winning drive was punctuated by a 15-yard penalty on Arizona Pro Bowl safety Adrian Wilson for a hit on Todd Heap. Referee Jerome Boger said, ``We had an airborne receiver hit by a defender ... and we had a blow above the shoulders into the head area.''
Replays showed it was more questionable than that - more a factor of Wilson, one of the hardest hitters in the NFL, hitting Heap with such force that it could be felt in the press box.
So Wilson's penalty was a ``maybe, maybe not.'' Just as a third-down pass from Warner toward Bryant Johnson in the end zone on the series before Rackers' tying field goal could have been called pass interference on Corey Ivy: ``Maybe, maybe not.''
This is a franchise whose last NFL title came when the team was in Chicago in 1947 and which has one playoff win in the 60 years since.
One reason is that when it comes down to ``maybe, maybe not,'' the Cardinals rarely get things to go their way.
Still, better days may be on the way. After all, even at 1-2, the Cardinals are only a game out of first in the NFC West, a division where 8-8 could win.
Even more encouraging is the idea Whisenhunt would run a platoon at quarterback.
Most coaches would just say ``we'll stick with the youngster and let him develop.'' Whisenhunt came into one of the NFL's toughest venues to play one of the league's best defenses and decided to try and win with a 36-year-old.
Then he announced Leinart will start next week at home against Pittsburgh, with Warner in the wings.
Yes, this team loses like the same old Cards.
On the other hand, there's a sense that at least they lose trying.