This loss was a tough one regardless of how we played down the stretch because of the fact that it was the NFC Championship Game.
If you saw the Cardinals play the other teams that they played in the playoffs, it was obvious that they were a much different team than the one we played back on Thanksgiving. We certainly didn't look past them. They just played so crisp on offense. They had no dropped balls. Their timing was really impressive. When you have a quarterback that is that accurate and receivers that are that big, it's tough to defend.
They ran a lot of draws and screens and against our subpackages where you have a lot of defensive backs in there. You have to give up something to get something. If we can give up small runs and take away some of their deep passes, we were definitely OK with that. Even when they got some yards, I don't think that's what decided the game.
The real big difference between the first and the second half was execution. I know it's a cliché answer, a simple answer, but it came down to execution and guys settling down and playing better ball in the second half.
Kurt Warner is one of the best quarterbacks against the blitz. It's hard to think of another quarterback who releases the ball as quickly as he does. What he does have is a low release. We were able to take advantage of that in the first game back on Thanksgiving. We weren't able to on Sunday. It's frustrating when you beat your guy on a blitz play, especially against some offenses, but Warner is so field aware and they use the shotgun so much. With all of the three-step drops it's hard to get pressure.
So, what happened? They had the gimmick play that they scored the long touchdown on. On the first drive, there were some mistakes on those crossing routes. That's 14 points right there. They had some pick routes, which picked our guys off in man coverage and allowed them to move the ball down the field. When watching the film and preparing for the Cardinals, they did use some gimmick plays against Carolina. It's a tough situation because you want to play the run and then all of a sudden with the throwback they throw it deep. It's tough.
Even a couple days later, it's a disappointing loss no matter how you look at it.