2006 Recap: Week 6 Bears @ Cards MNF

The Cardinals came into this week's contest much more soberly than anyone would have anticipated before the debacle that was the Kansas City game. With the undeniably exciting atmosphere that Monday Night Football brings to the stadium, one may have thought that there would be a party in the desert, but even the Arizona Cardinal faithful seemed to be subdued.

It was as though even the stadium couldn't shake off the horrendous loss experienced the week before.  With the surging Bears coming into town for the showdown, Arizona needed to shift the focus of their attention from last week's disappointment to the task at hand. They failed to do that, miserably.


The first sign that Arizona wasn't mentally prepared for this week's game was the opening kickoff fumble by Rookie KR Michael Spurlock, inserted into the role for the first week, that was recovered by the Bears on the Cardinals 7 yard line. RB Cedric Benson made quick work of the assignment as he easily scampered into the end zone without so much as an Arizona shoulder-pad making contact with him. Even with a suspect offensive line, the Bears made it seem very easy to slice through the defensive front as both the front four and the linebacker corps looked confused and over-matched. They were wearing the deer-in-the-headlights look even as they were taking the field following the fumble.


As bad as the defensive unit was on their 1-play series, the offensive group was even worse. Not only were they unable to move the ball forward because of poor play execution, but they made it easier for Chicago by shooting themselves in the foot. First, a false start penalty on OT Leonard Davis on second and long, followed by an intentional grounding penalty on QB Kurt Warner at his own 14 on the same down. For the offense, it was just another day at the office as their futility has become the norm so far this season. Not since Week One's rout of San Francisco has the Cardinals offense looked anything other than anemic.


Fortunately for Arizona, the defensive unit finally snapped out of their lull and began to take out some frustration on the Bears offense. After a booming 55-yard Scott Player punt that put the Bears back to their 26, Chicago decided to go to the air. QB Rex Grossman took the snap and hadn't quite completed his drop-back before LB Karlos Dansby leveled him from the blindside. In yet another cruel twist of fate, Grossman again experienced the painful bite of the injury bug, breaking his right collarbone on the play. It turns out that General Manager Jerry Angelo was this game's MVP, as it was his foresight in the off-season to bring in Grossman's backup, QB Brian Griese. Initially though, Griese did not look comfortable in the pocket, unable to settle in and keep his feet still. By halftime, though he had caught his rhythm and looked as good as he ever has in the pros (completing 17-28 passes for 291 yards, 1TD), despite some very nice second half defensive play from both the secondary and the linebacker group.


The Cardinals were not able to put together a significant drive until they received a punt with 3:15 left in the half. RB Edgerrin James went off-tackle behind OT Oliver Ross, broke several tackles and ended up with a 42-yard gain to the Bears 38. From there, Warner took over, throwing an 11-yard pass to WR Larry Fitzgerald, then following that with a 25-yard pass to WR Anquan Bolden down to the 2. After the 2-minute warning, RB Marcell Shipp capped the drive off to end the Cardinals scoring woes with the short TD scamper, which made the score 10-7, Bears at the half.


It was the third quarter when Griese truly shined where he was 10-11 passing in the frame for 186 yards. His lone TD pass came on the half's opening drive on a 3rd and short at the Cardinals 48. He employed a quick drop and a pump fake to draw CB Antrel Rolle out of position and then threw over FS Robert Griffith to connect with WR Mushin Muhammed for the long passing TD. The Cardinals had to feel fortunate however that as well as Brian Griese played – considering the circumstances – there was not the type of scoring they had faced previously. Chicago would only score once more, on a FG, and marched inside the 20 one other time, but FB Obafemi Ayanbadejo spoiled that drive by blocking another Robbie Gould field goal attempt.


The offense put together a respectable second half that was given life early in the 4th as KR Bryant Johnson, re-inserted after the Spurlock fumble, returned a kickoff for a TD, making the score 17-14. Late in the last stanza, with the score now 20-14 Bears, it appeared that Arizona would mount a drive to take the lead. On a controversial play, SS Mike Brown had other plans as he merely had to stand still and catch the pass intended for WR Larry Fitzgerald, who had been pulled down by LB Brian Urlacher as he crossed the field.


Cardinals lose 20-14.


On tap:

The Cardinals head to the road where they'll travel to Oakland to face the 2-3 Raiders, who are fresh off of a nationally televised 35-10 beating at the hands of the Denver Broncos. This team appears to be rebuilding somewhat, but is a young and hungry group. QB Aaron Brooks is attempting to revive his career, with mixed results so far, but this appears to be a much easier task than the Arizona group has been charged with over the past few weeks. It's a short week with a travel day, so the difficulty level is raised there, plus the pressure is still on and the Cardinals can ill-afford to lose their third straight if they hope to be in the playoff mix. 

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