The Cardinals were finally able to reach the end zone in the 4th quarter, but that was after San Francisco tallied up 23 points. That was more than enough to defeat Arizona last Sunday. John Skelton received his 3rd straight start, but after winning the first two he couldn’t even finish out the third. He was pulled in favor of Richard Bartel after he started 6 for 19 for just 99 yards and 3 INTs. That gave him a grand total QB rating of 10.5. Bartel fared better completing 8 of 16 for 64 and a score, but this was with the game well out of hand. If Kolb cannot start this week, expect Skelton back under center, but with a shorter leash than his previous starts. Those who were starting to favor Skelton over Kolb may want to hold off for a little while. Beanie Wells carried the ball only 8 times with the Cards playing catch-up most of the game. Chester Taylor ended up the leading rusher by yards with 34, eclipsed all on one carry. Fitzgerald continued to be the lone consistent performer, hauling in his 6th TD catch of the year.
Defensively the Cardinal actually held the Niners to 9 points in the first half, all on Akers field goals. The third quarter was a different story as Alex Smith completed two touchdown passes to Davis and Williams. It was a game of complete possession domination by the San Fran. They controlled the ball for a whopping 44 minutes compared to 16 for the road team. You can call that a very lopsided statistic. The Niners were effective with the run, but not overly spectacular. They were able to gain 164 yards, but it took just under 50 carries to reach that mark. Alex Smith aired it out more than he has the entire season, throwing it 38 times for 267 yards. He had the two scores as I mentioned before, but also threw one interception which has plagued him in the past. The 49ers were able to easily overcome the one turnover however. A couple other telling statistics from this game were the 5 turnovers the Cards had, and the zero sacks that their defense recorded. In fact, the D was credited with just 1 hit on Alex Smith. As Baltimore proved, you need to hit Smith if you expect to slow down that offense.
The Cardinals are now just 1-5 on the road after facing likely their toughest challenge so far this year. They will get their third straight game on the road this Sunday as they travel to St. Louis to have a rematch with the Rams. Of course the Cards took the last game in an overtime thriller that featured a game winning punt return from Patrick Peterson. The Rams are much of the same team as they were the last time the two faced, but has suffered some injuries from their already battered line and receiving corps. The Rams outplayed the Cards much of the game last time, but couldn’t find the end zone. If they want to pull off another victory, they will need to stop Steven Jackson much better than they did last time when he ran for 130 yards. It is hard to win when you are out-gained by over 100 yards and control the ball more than 10 minutes less than your opponent. I’d imagine it is even harder to do it twice. Skelton is the likely starter, but Kolb still has not been ruled out. Both these teams have combined for a total of 5 wins, so I expect a low scoring close affair, just like last time.