Arizona's recent struggles come at an inopportune time with the playoffs right around the corner. In their last three losses, the Cardinals have been outscored 130-41 and are averaging a mere 254 yards per game of total offense. The team's only win in the past five weeks came in Week 14 against the 2-13 St. Louis Rams. Furthermore, Arizona has dropped all five of its East Coast road trips this season.
With a winter storm in place for most of the game, the Cardinals were unable to bear the elements and dug themselves into an early hole. The Patriots scored two quick touchdowns and jumped out to a 14-0 first quarter lead. New England continued to click on all cylinders, scoring three more times in the second quarter and went into halftime up 31-0.
The Patriots rushing attack utilized a two-headed monster consisting of running backs Sammy Morris and LaMont Jordan. Morris racked up 88 yards on 15 carries while Jordon totaled 20 carries for 78 yards and two touchdowns. Morris also proved to be a viable receiving option out of the backfield, adding two catches for 45 yards.
QB Matt Cassel
WR Jabar Gaffney led the Patriots in receiving, hauling in five passes for 90 yards. Although WR Randy Moss was held in check for most of the game, he managed to shake free for a 76-yard touchdown early in the third quarter. In addition, WR Wes Welker took over the league lead in receptions (109) after hauling in seven passes for 68 yards and a score.
Arizona QB Kurt Warner was mentioned as a potential MVP candidate just weeks ago but has come upon hard times of late. New England held Warner to 6-of-18 passing for only 30 yards as he failed to throw a touchdown for the first time this year. Backup QB Matt Leinart saw action for the second consecutive game, relieving Warner for the majority of the second half. Leinart finished 6-of-14 for 138 yards, including a 78-yard touchdown strike to WR Larry Fitzgerald.
Under harsh conditions, Fitzgerald led the Cardinals in receiving with three receptions for 101 yards. Outside of Fitzgerald, Arizona's talented receiving corps failed to help fill the void left by injured WR Anquan Boldin. Jerheme Urban managed only two catches for 26 yards while Steve Breaston was limited to just one catch for 6 yards.
The Cardinals' running game continues to produce minimal results and managed only 44 yards on 15 carries. Veteran RB Edgerrin James led the team in rushing, carrying the ball four times for 19 yards.
Next week, Arizona returns home to wrap up the regular season against the Seattle Seahawks. Seattle has won two straight games, including an upset win over the New York Jets in Mike Holmgren's final home game. The Cardinals will attempt to send Holmgren out on a losing note while building momentum for their first home playoff game since 1947.
Brad Wilbricht can be contacted at email@example.com