Cardinals Face More East Coast Doom

The Cardinals froze in New England and suffered a 47–7 loss to the Patriots on Sunday.The game was a must-win for the home team, but Arizona was too generous as it wrapped up the win for the Patriots, complete with a bow on top.The conditions prevented Arizona from warming up in the first half, but a lackadaisical attitude was also a culprit. AZ will need to ask Santa for some confidence and zeal.

What Worked

--The Arizona Cardinals 47-7 loss on Sunday was as gloomy as the weather. The Cardinals couldn't warm up its engine. But a few backups will smile at their own performance, behind closed doors.

--Matt Leinart stepped in and avoided the shutout for the Cardinals. Larry Fitzgerald beat out Ellis Hobbs and ran in the ice breaker into the end zone. The 78-yard throw was the longest pass of Leinart's career and longest reception by Fitzgerald, which accounted for the final score, 47-7.

Leinart would more than quadruple Warner's showing. Leinart posted 138 yards to Warner's 30. Leinart completed six out of 14 passes, while Warner completed six out of 18.

--After losing his starting job to rookie Tim Hightower, Edgerrin James led the Cardinals on the ground with 18 yards on four carries. It's not quite the Cinderella story it could have been, but James blew by his replacement. On 10 carries, Hightower produced 17 yards.

--Rookie Early Doucet landed the Cardinals their opening first down four minutes into the second quarter. Doucet had the opportunity to play because Anquan Boldin was inactive. He would finish with only two receptions (11 yards), but he got to show what he could do.

What Didn't

--For the second consecutive week, and the third time all year, the Arizona Cardinals failed to put points on the board in the first half. The New England Patriots sent the Cardinals into the locker room down 31-0.

--The Patriots play some of their best football in December, while the Cardinals have dropped off the momentum train as of late. Arizona was questioned whether it had anything to play for on Sunday. The Cardinals wanted to find their oomph heading into the playoffs, but found another ugly game instead.

--Arizona's main priority had to be protecting the football. The conditions made it easy to put the ball on the ground. Hightower learned this lesson early. Warner pitched the ball to Hightower who was knocked off the field and lost the ball. It's difficult to imagine an even more dreadful deficit, but Hightower's fumble could have aided the Patriots even more. But former Patriot Stephen Spach recovered the lost ball.

--Throwing the ball was a big risk on Sunday. Warner was forced to utilize the Cardinals' ailing ground game. Hightower would produce a frustrating performance. In his first seven carries, he registered 12 yards. For those who are keeping tabs that's less than a 2-yard average. He would finish the day with the same norm.

--Warner took a pounding in New England. His offensive line appeared to still be in the Minnesota Vikings game. The Patriots got after Warner fast and often. He wasn't given much opportunity to get the ball to the appropriate targets due to dismal protection.

The decision to keep Warner in the game until late in the third quarter is a bit conflicted. Warner holds all the Cardinals playoff hopes in his basket. If he got injured the Cardinals would be in deep trouble. Leinart could have gone in earlier and did the same exact job. It wasn't a friendly game for any player in red, might as well rest Warner and get Leinart some snaps.

Besides, putting Leinart made the game interesting. See what he could do. The weather was more on Leinart's side in the second half, and he took advantage of it with the longest touchdown pass of his career.

When Leinart stepped onto the field, he had the cards stacked against him with a 44-0 debit to the Patriots, but also his helmet communication with Todd Haley wasn't functioning correctly. Leinart got all discombobulated. Haley seemed to have little compassion for the situation. Leinart could have made lemonade. He had the opportunity to call his own plays, be his own boss.

In his opening drive, Leinart failed to connect with Fitzgerald or Hightower, but he though fast and rushed for 8 yards, good for a first down. The play was made with off of a horrible looking snap, but Leinart secured it and gave the Cardinals their fourth first down of the game.

On the same drive, Leinart would get sacked by Brandon Meriweather. Leinart would loose the football and give the ball back to New England. The turnover would cost Arizona three more points, 47-0.

Leinart would later go on to get picked off, but it was a catchable pass for Jerheme Urban who on the previous play, gave the Cardinals their biggest gain up until that point, 27 yards off a Leinart pass.

What's Next

The Cardinals will take on division rivals the Seattle Seahawks at home in their final regular season game. The schedule makers predicted this game to have playoff indications, but Seattle struggled and couldn't send Coach Mike Holmgren into retirement with yet another division title.

Arizona has locked up the NFC West crown, but week 17's game is a must-win game for the Cardinals. If they can't pull out a victory over the Seahawks at home, the Cardinals would need a Christmas miracle to get back on the confidence wagon heading into the post season.

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