Arizona making habit of fourth-quarter failure
For three straight weeks the Arizona Cardinals have had a chance to win at the end and blown it.
The Cardinals are taking the glass half-full approach as they react to the heartbreakers. Three losses by a combined eight points show, they say, how close Arizona is to being a successful team.
''It's very frustrating,'' coach Ken Whisenhunt said, ''but the thing I'll say is you have to have patience because if you look at our games, there's no question in my mind that we're close, and that's the way that we look at it.''
In all three losses - 22-21 at Washington, 13-10 at Seattle and 31-27 against the New York Giants - Arizona had the ball at the end only to have things fall apart.
Against the Redskins, it was Chansi Stuckey's fumble after a pass from Kolb. At Seattle, Kolb was intercepted.
Then on Sunday against the Giants, after Arizona had blown a late 10-point lead, the Cardinals had fourth-and-2 at the Giants 30 when Kolb's pass to Larry Fitzgerald was broken up.
It was a play that had worked earlier.
''That's kind of the thought,'' Kolb said. ''He's our go-daddy and we had him one-on-one out there. The guy made a great play, I'm not sure if it's interference or not. I haven't seen it that close, but we don't expect that call at the end of the game like that.''
A couple of plays earlier, an attempt to run a screen pass wound up in a sack.
''It was set up. It was ready to go,'' Whisenhunt said. ''We didn't execute it perfectly, but in that situation, you have to get the ball out. If it goes, it's a big play.''
So what is happening in this week after week after week of failure at the finish?
''To be honest with you, I wish we had a totally right answer,'' Kolb said. ''If we did, we probably wouldn't be making the same mistakes, or mistakes in general, because they're not the same mistakes.''
Kolb is well aware of the pressure that comes with the five-year, $63 million contract - $21 million guaranteed - he signed after he was traded from Philadelphia to Arizona..The nuances of his new offense remain elusive.
''I'm not going to tell you it's a work in progress because I'm tired of saying it,'' Kolb said. ''I'm just ready to get it done and win some games.''
Among other things, he trying to tread the fine line of when to stay in the pocket and when to scramble.
''There are certainly some plays where you'd like for him to hang in there, but there's always some plays he can make with his feet, and you have to balance those,'' Whisenhunt said.
He'll get more comfortable with the reads and the progressions with our offense, and which side to work and where to go with the ball. Every week it changes because you game plan and you have to tweak those reads. We're getting a little better base each week of what he's comfortable with and what he knows as far as his reads.''
Guard Daryn Colledge said the offensive line needs to make things easier for the quarterback.
''Kevin's going to take the blame for a lot of stuff, and that's not right,'' Colledge said.
''We know as an offensive line when you need to do things better in the pass game. We've all got corrections to be made, but I think we've shown that when everybody is on the same page and everybody's playing downhill, we've got an explosive offense here.''
Kolb seemed puzzled when asked if he thought people expected too much of him too soon in Arizona.
''The question hasn't even crossed my mind because I'm tough on myself,'' he said. ''That's never going to be an issue from my position.''
Kolb said he's never gone three straight losses like this. He talks regularly with friends Aaron Rodgers and Drew Brees.
''Look, we all feel like we want to get frustrated and feel like `Man, what the heck's going on?'. But you just can't let yourself do that. It's part of being a professional,'' Kolb said.
''It's part of being a great player. If you look back, they've all gone through it. That's what I do. I look back at some of the older ones and some of the guys that I know and I talk to them.''
One thing the Cardinals aren't worrying about is whether Victor Cruz's decision to leave the ball on the field Sunday and head back to the huddle should have been ruled a fumble.
The official ruled that Cruz had ''given himself up'' on the play, therefore the ball was dead. Cruz said later he thought, wrongly it turned out, that he had been tapped by a defender. Eli Manning said he thought it was a fumble.
On the next play, Manning threw for what proved to be the game-winning touchdown.
''They wouldn't allow me to challenge it, so they made the ruling and I have no choice but to live by that ruling,'' Whisenhunt said. ''But I'll tell you this, it shouldn't have come down to that play. It shouldn't have mattered with that play. If we had done some of the things better that were in our control in that game, it would have never come to that.''