COMMENTARY | The critics looked at the Arizona Cardinals' record of 3-2 as an aberration more than anything else. After all, they beat Detroit, Tampa Bay and Carolina -- not exactly stiff competition. Week 6 would provide an opportunity to shut up some of the doubters.
In their chance to gain some national recognition against the San Francisco 49ers, the Cardinals proved those critics right with a sloppy 32-20 loss.
You absolutely, positively cannot turn the ball over on the road against a superior opponent, but that's exactly what the Cardinals did. Carson Palmer threw two interceptions, Alfonso Smith lost a fumble and even Larry Fitzgerald coughed one up.
Dating back to October of 2010, the Cardinals have now lost seven straight games in which they've turned the ball over four times.
SO MUCH FOR THE PRESSURE
Just as the Cardinals were gaining some steam as a defense, all of it came to an abrupt halt. The Cardinals' defensive line hit Colin Kaepernick just four times, resulting in only two sacks. As was the case earlier in the year, opposing receivers had too much time to get into their routes and the secondary had no chance.
The vaunted rushing defense, which was ranked No. 3 going into Sunday's game, fell flat against Frank Gore and the 49ers' ground attack. Gore ran for 101 yards on 25 carries, with the team totaling 149 yards on the ground.
After a terrific season debut in which he recorded nine tackles, two sacks and an interception against the Carolina Panthers, Daryl Washington was nearly invisible against the 49ers. He got just three tackles, with no sacks and no interceptions.
It was Washington who was instrumental in keeping Cam Newton at bay last week and was to help provide more speed against the 49ers, but it didn't happen. Instead, Vernon Davis continued the trend of opposing tight ends lighting up the scoreboard against the Cardinals. Davis finished with eight catches for 180 yards and two touchdowns.
IS THE DREAM OVER?
Should the Cardinals just pack up shop and give up their desire to make the playoffs? Absolutely not. Unfortunately, they have a short week and have to face a very good Seattle Seahawks team on Thursday night, luckily at the University of Phoenix Stadium.
If the Cardinals expect to compete for a playoff spot and if they expect to make a run at winning the NFC West, they're going to need to beat Seattle.
In order for that to happen, the defense needs to get back to pressuring the quarterback and they need to take care of the ball. Turn it over four times and get just two sacks again and you can forget about any shot at the playoffs.
Michael Dunlap covers the Phoenix Suns, Arizona Cardinals and Arizona Diamondbacks for the Yahoo Contributor Network. He is an NBA credentialed writer who is also the Editor-in-Chief and Founder of HoopsHabit.com.
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