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Between The Lines: How the Cards Stopped Abraham
by November 30, 1999 @ 12:00 am (Category : Uncategorized )

Jan 6th 2009 10:00AM by JJ Cooper (author feed)
Filed under: AZ Cardinals, Falcons, NFL Playoffs

Give Cardinals head coach/offensive whiz Ken Whisenhunt credit. The Cardinals’ offense took conventional wisdom and managed to tweak it to its own advantage to beat the Falcons.

The Cardinals only ran the ball on 34 percent of their offensive plays during the regular season, and they have one of the best passing offenses in the league. The Cards had struggled to run the ball all season, but with the exception of some occasional pass-protection breakdowns, the passing game has been one of the league’s best.

So what did the Cardinals do on their second possession of the game? They hand the ball to Edgerrin James on three straight plays, setting up a flea-flicker touchdown. And it wasn’t a one-drive ruse. The Cardinals ran the ball on 28 of their 60 snaps. And they ran effectively, despite the fact that their longest run of the game was 10 yards.

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Bill Belichick Got One Vote for NFL Coach of the Year, Cast by Bob Costas
by @ 12:00 am (Category : Uncategorized )

Jan 6th 2009 10:48AM by Michael David Smith (author feed)
Filed under: Falcons, Patriots, NFL Coaching, NFL Media WatchNew England Patriots coach Bill Belichick got one vote among the 50 members of the media who selected the Associated Press NFL Coach of the Year, and that one voter is none other than NBC’s NFL studio host, Bob Costas.

Mike Reiss of the Boston Globe contacted Costas to ask why he voted for Belichick, rather than Falcons coach Mike Smith or Dolphins coach Tony Sparano, who were by far the two top vote getters, with Smith edging Sparano by one vote. Costas replied:
“I thought he deserved a nod for what might have been the best, or certainly one of the best coaching jobs of his career,” Costas said. “He loses [Tom] Brady, and it’s not just losing Brady, but also that [Matt] Cassel basically never played. It’s not the same thing as losing Johnny Unitas and you have Earl Morrall. He brought the kid along.”
I don’t ever recall a coach getting any Coach of the Year recognition after a season in which his team’s win total declined by five from the year before. Then again, I don’t ever recall a coach leading a team to a 16-0 record, then losing his MVP quarterback in the first game of the following season, only to go 11-5 with a backup quarterback who had never even started a game in college, let alone in the NFL.

I probably would have gone with the plurality who selected Smith, but I don’t have a problem with Costas’s choice. The argument for Belichick as coach of the year is a legitimate one.

Bertrand Berry Says Falcons Quarterback Matt Ryan Never Varied His Snap Count
by @ 12:00 am (Category : Uncategorized )

Jan 5th 2009 6:54PM by Matt Snyder (author feed)
Filed under: AZ Cardinals, Falcons, NFC South, NFC West, NFL PlayoffsArizona Cardinals’ defensive end Bertrand Berry was on the Dan Patrick radio show today, and he had something interesting to say about the Offensive Rookie of the Year, Falcons’ quarterback Matt Ryan. Berry said that Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan didn’t change his snap count all game. It’s true that the Cardinals’ defensive front was getting off the ball very quickly all game, so I guess we have to believe Berry. I just don’t understand how a quarterback at the NFL level would turn a blind eye to something as obvious as this. High school quarterbacks vary snap counts in order to keep opposing defenses on their toes. Sure, Ryan is a rookie, but he went 11-5 in his rookie season and showed veteran-like poise in many late-game situations.

Is it possible he buckled under the playoff pressure and his lack of variance on the snap count was due to nerves?

Other notes from the interview were that Berry said Anquan Boldin would try to play even if he had an amputated leg. I’m sure someone will make a fuss about that comment in relation to Richard Collier’s tragic situation from this past offseason. Let’s just remember, he’s making a statement about how tough Boldin is.

Falcons’ Mike Smith Narrowly Wins NFL Coach of the Year Over Tony Sparano
by @ 12:00 am (Category : Uncategorized )

Jan 4th 2009 1:36PM by Matt Snyder (author feed)
Filed under: Falcons, NFC South, NFL Awards, NFL CoachingI’m sure it comes as no consolation today — following a playoff loss to the Arizona Cardinals — but Mike Smith of the Atlanta Falcons has won NFL Coach of the Year honors in his first season. Smith took on an unenviable task, as the Falcons appeared to be in shambles following the Michael Vick debacle and Bobby Petrino leaving during his first season, but he came through with an incredible performance. They finished 11-5 and made the playoffs after a 4-12 2007 season.

Smith won the award by the narrowest of margins, taking down Miami Dolphins’ rookie coach, Tony Sparano, by one vote, 23.5 to 22.5. Yeah, someone voted a half-vote for each coach. I don’t quite understand that. Just make a decision. Either way, that only leaves four more votes from the 50 total. Jeff Fisher of the Titans received three, and Bill Belichick garnered one.

Sparano took over a 1-15 Dolphins team and improved on that record by 10, getting them back into the playoffs for the first time since 2001.Continue Reading

Big Plays From Boldin and Fitzgerald, but Falcons Lead Cardinals at Half
by @ 12:00 am (Category : Uncategorized )

Jan 3rd 2009 6:00PM by Michael David Smith (author feed)
Filed under: AZ Cardinals, Falcons, NFL Playoffs
The first half of the Cardinals-Falcons game was characterized by big plays from Arizona receivers Anquan Boldin and Larry Fitzgerald and Arizona running back Edgerrin James looking revitalized. But the Falcons went on a late flurry to take a 17-14 lead into halftime.

The Falcons scored two touchdowns in the final three minutes of the half. The first, a seven-yard run by Michael Turner, came on a 14-play, 77-yard drive on which the Atlanta offense looked like it had finally figured out the Arizona defense after a first quarter in which the Falcons couldn’t get anything going. The second touchdown drive covered just 23 yards and followed a Kurt Warner interception.

Warner’s numbers don’t look too impressive at first glance — he completed just six of his 15 passes — but the Cardinals have had two huge plays in the passing game. The first was a 41-yard touchdown catch by Fitzgerald (pictured above) that came on a flea flicker. The second was a short pass that Boldin turned into a 71-yard touchdown, racing down the sideline and outrunning the Atlanta secondary.Continue Reading

Cardinals Strike Back, Take Lead Over Falcons Into Fourth Quarter
by @ 12:00 am (Category : Uncategorized )

Jan 3rd 2009 6:48PM by Michael David Smith (author feed)
Filed under: AZ Cardinals, Falcons
The Arizona Cardinals have dominated the third quarter of today’s wild card playoff game, turning a 17-14 halftime deficit into a 28-17 lead heading into the fourth quarter.

The second half couldn’t have started much better for the Cardinals: On the second play of the third quarter, a botched Falcons handoff was fumbled and plucked out of the air by Cardinals safety Antrel Rolle, who raced 27 yards for a touchdown to give the Cardinals a 21-17 lead.

Later in the third, Cardinals running back Tim Hightower scored on a four-yard touchdown run to give the Cardinals a 28-17 lead, and then Arizona started to pour it on: On the Falcons’ first play after the ensuing kickoff, Cardinals cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie showed off his incredible vertical jump as he leaped into the air and picked off a Matt Ryan pass.

The Cardinals had to punt on their next possession, and the Falcons have the ball heading into the fourth, but Atlanta now has an uphill climb to keep its season alive.

Cardinals 30, Falcons 24: Arizona Reminds Everyone Not to Write Them Off
by @ 12:00 am (Category : Uncategorized )

Jan 3rd 2009 7:53PM by Matt Snyder (author feed)
Filed under: AZ Cardinals, Falcons, NFC South, NFC West, NFL Playoffs.

You have to give the Arizona Cardinals credit. They don’t often make the playoffs, but when they do, they get their money’s worth. The last time they were in the playoffs was 10 years ago, and they won a game that time around as well.

I guess all those people constantly reminding Arizona fans how much their team sucks needed to check themselves a bit. After a beautifully executed flea-flicker — resulting in a touchdown by Larry Fitzgerald — the Cards outplayed the Falcons for most of the game. There was a brief interlude where Atlanta took the lead due to a late first-half interception deep in Cardinals territory. That sequence alone is why the game ended up much closer than it should have been.

The Cardinals controlled this game at the line of scrimmage from start to finish. Coming in, the Atlanta Falcons were the ones with the vaunted rushing attack, while the Cardinals ran the ball less than any team in the league. With John Abraham being rendered basically meaningless and the Cardinals defensive front living in the Falcons backfield, the Cards outran the Falcons.
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Ryan’s Struggles Weren’t Surprising, but Turner’s Problems Were
by @ 12:00 am (Category : Uncategorized )

Jan 3rd 2009 8:33PM by JJ Cooper (author feed)
Filed under: AZ Cardinals, Falcons, NFL PlayoffsYou can blame Matt Ryan’s two interceptions, or the Falcons’ defense’s inability to get off the field, but the most shocking part of the Falcons loss has to be Michael Turner’s inability to ever get going against the Cardinals defense.

Turner finished with only 42 yards on 18 carries, a 2.33-yard per carry average that looks more like what Chris Perry would do instead of what you would expect from the second-leading rusher in the NFL. And to add to the ugliness, a botched exchange between Ryan and Turner turned into the go-ahead touchdown for the Cardinals.

Turner picked the worst possible time to have his worst game of the season. Twelve of Turner’s 18 carries went for two yards or less, and six were for no gain or negative yardage. The Cardinals had a solid run defense this year, but it was hard to expect that they would completely turn Atlanta into a one-dimensional passing team.

Turner had seven carries in the first quarter, eight in the second quarter and only three carries in the entire second half. Jerious Norwood, one of the more dangerous No. 2 backs in the league, got only two carries all night — his fewest of the season.

But considering how the game was going, you can’t blame Falcons offensive coordinator Mike Mularkey for junking the run. Atlanta had very few possessions in the third quarter and it was already clear that the running game wasn’t working. By the time Atlanta finally got the ball back in the fourth quarter, it was desperation time.

Turner and Ryan carried the Falcons to the playoffs. So it’s not surprising that when they struggled on Saturday, Atlanta’s season ended.

FanHouse Preview: Falcons at Cardinals
by @ 12:00 am (Category : Uncategorized )

Jan 2nd 2009 10:00AM by JJ Cooper (author feed)
Filed under: AZ Cardinals, Falcons, NFC South, NFC West, NFL Playoffs.

It’s the battle of the unlikely birds.

We have the Falcons, who are just a year away from being the league’s laughingstock with a quarterback in prison and a coach who bailed the first time things got tough, against the Cardinals, who make the playoffs about as often as Vanderbilt wins a bowl game.

The Cardinals wrapped up a playoff spot weeks ago, but they’re considered potential frauds because of their easy NFC West schedule. The Falcons had to wait a while longer, and they have to carry some skepticism because they’ve gone from being considered one of the league’s worst teams to a playoff team in the span of three months and conventional wisdom often takes longer than that to catch up.

But both of these teams are only three wins away from the Super Bowl. It doesn’t matter how they got here, as a couple of wins and fans can start dreaming of a trip to Tampa–even if there aren’t enough Cardinals fans to sell out their stadium, much less to travel to the Super Bowl.

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NFL Live Chat: Previewing Wild Card Weekend
by @ 12:00 am (Category : Uncategorized )

Jan 2nd 2009 12:30PM by Ryan Wilson (author feed)
Filed under: AZ Cardinals, Chargers, Colts, Falcons, NFL Fans, NFL Playoffs

.

It’s playoff time, people. Four great games this weekend, starting with the Falcons-Cards and Colts-Chargers on Saturday, followed by Ravens-Dolphins and Eagles-Vikings Sunday afternoon. And the best part: the LIons can’t lose.

In any event, we’ll be chatting it up at 1PM EST. In the meantime, you can see FanHouse “experts” pick the winners here. (”Experts,” indeed. Feel free to point, gawk, mock … we deserve it.) Back in a bit.Continue Reading

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Brian Finneran Name: Brian Finneran
#86
Position: WR
Age: 32
Experience: 8 years
College: Villanova
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