Behind Enemy Lines – Midseason approaches

Injuries are starting to mount as the season approaches the midway point and the NFC West has seen its share of star players bowing out with ailments.

Arizona – The Cardinals seemed to make a statement last week when they came out and hit division rival Seattle early and kept them reeling the entire game. One week later, the "boys from the desert" were reminded of that they still have a long way to go to be serious challengers for a playoff spot in the NFC.

The Cardinals outplayed the Buffalo Bills on Sunday but still got manhandled on the scoreboard losing 38-14, their 19th straight loss on the road, by a team struggling more than they are.

The Cardinals had trouble playing in the wind and rain in Ralph Wilson Stadium and QB Josh McCown struggled to one of his worst days so far on the season.

"I know one thing, I have a newfound respect for Jim Kelly and what he did here," McCown said, referring to the Bills Hall of Fame quarterback. "It was the toughest conditions I've ever played in."

On the day McCown finished 9 of 24 for 101 yards and one touchdown.

While other teams seem to be losing the battle of attrition around the league, the Cardinals are continuing to get healthier as evidenced by the season debut of WR Anquan Boldin. Boldin, the NFL's Rookie of the Year in 2003, caught four passes for 50 yards but still failed to make a catch on 4th and 7 when he had a ball slip through his hands.

Look for the Cardinals to ink outstanding SS Adrian Wilson to a contract soon. Wilson is eligible to become an unrestricted free agent after this season, but it's a good bet the Cardinals will re-sign him in the near future.

If Wilson were to sign a new contract before Nov. 8, any salary increase he receives could be counted against this year's salary cap. With the Cardinals believed to be between $5 million and $7 million under the cap, it would appear they have plenty of money to handle a new deal for a player who seems to like the direction the team is headed in under head coach Dennis Green.

Next Game – @ Miami, November 7th

San Francisco – Have the Niners hit rock-bottom? They might be getting near there as their offense was able to muster just 167 yards and two field-goals in a 20-13 loss to the Chicago Bears on the road.

Their only touchdown came on an 80-yard fumble return by FS Dwaine Carpenter a little over halfway through the first quarter.

QB Ken Dorsey, starting in place of the injured Tim Rattay, had a tough day completing just 16 of 36 passes for 122 yards.

"They were coming after me," Dorsey said. "I missed throws I'm capable of making. You're going to miss throws but you have to make the majority of them."

Head coach Dennis Erickson, who is playing the very bad hand he has been dealt, is withholding his analysis until after the season on his young QB.

"Ken didn't play well, like everybody else," Erickson said. "We need to judge him more down the road. He's a young quarterback who hasn't played a lot. Just like they (Chicago) will evaluate Krenzel. They're inexperienced guys and they made mistakes. I don't know if you can jump to any conclusions right now."

Erickson was also pleased with the play of one of his old horses along the defensive line.

"B.Y. (DT Bryant Young) was all over the place. I don't know all his stats, but he was good," Erickson said. "The whole defense played well, but Bryant's a special player. He's a professional."

Young recorded two sacks and ten tackles to lead the team while LB Jamie Winborn also recorded five tackles and two sacks as the 49ers pressured Bears signal-caller Craig Krezel all night.

Next Game: vs. Seattle, November 7th

St. Louis – The Rams entered the bye week hoping to shore up what has been an erratic defense. The biggest problem for the Rams stop unit has been their tendancy to give up the big play, especially their secondary.

Statistically the Rams rank 28th in overall defense allowing 359 yards per game, but a lot of those yards have been given up in big chunks and have led to scores for the opposition.

Witness last week's loss to Miami, a team with no offense to speak of in their previous six games, scoring 31 points with two scores coming on passes of 42 and 71 yards.

"We gave up three plays in the passing game worth 160 yards, which ends up being three touchdowns," head coach Mike Martz said. "I think that is a significant number and obviously, it had an impact in the game."

One of the most discouraging plays to date this season came on third and 28 from the Rams 42 yard line. Dolphins QB Jay Fiedler found TE Randy McMichael open for the 42 yard touchdown right before halftime.

Martz took the blame for the call, as he tried to take the reins, calling for an all-out blitz on the play.

"That was the only defense I have called as a head coach," Martz said. "And we gave up a touchdown."

"We have to go back and correct the mistakes," FS Aeneas Williams said. "Guys like myself have to play a whole lot better in order for us to keep improving as a team. I had my opportunity to intercept the ball. I believe making that play possibly turns the whole game around. So, I have to make that play. When guys that this team counts on to make a play like that and I don't, I believe I put my team at a significant disadvantage."

This week the Rams face a tough New England squad who spreads the ball all over the field and it will be up to the defense to stop the trend of giving up the big play.

Next Game: vs. New England, November 7th Top Stories