The Cardinals won convincingly in Jacksonville on Sunday. So perhaps it is in bad form to be critical, particularly given the overall performance of this team through Week 11 this season. But I can’t help myself from calling out one of the Cardinals after watching what occurred in the first ten minutes of the Cardinals-Jaguars game on Sunday.
The Jags had third down from inside the three yard line of the Cardinals. This was the second possession of the game for the Jags, who threw caution to the wind on their first drive by going for it on fourth down from their own 32 yard line. The move resulted in a 68 yard touchdown pass from Chad Henne to Danny Noble.
The score was tied at seven. Chad Henne dropped back and was pressured up the middle. He hurried his pass to tight end Marcedes Lewis who was being guarded closely by Yeremiah Bell. The pass floated toward the goal posts. Incomplete. There is no question that Bell impeded Lewis’ chance to make the catch but the back judge immediately signaled that the pass was uncatchable. Lucky break for Bell and the Cardinals. Did he count his blessings? Not even close. Bell immediately got in the face of Lewis and did not back off. I cannot read lips but it is fair to assume that Bell was talking trash. Outside of television camera view, a flag was thrown. The flag was on Bell but not for pass interference. “Taunting, Arizona, half the distance to the goal, first down Jacksonville.”
The Jags had been gifted four more plays from inside the two yard line but required only one. Henne handed off to MJD who entered the end zone virtually untouched. Jags 14- Cards 7, with 5:08 left in the first quarter.
I hate playing “what if” unless the circumstance is created by something not related to the actual execution of the game. Here, the actions of Bell arose after the incompletion, after the whistle, and after the Cardinal-friendly judgment call of the back judge. Had Bell just zipped it, the Jags would have faced fourth down from near the three yard line and the decision of whether to go for it or take the three. Given the fact that the Jags’ first touchdown was on a fourth down play, one could guess that the Jags may have gone for the touchdown. Would the Cards have stopped them? How would have the intangible momentum swung? I don’t know! What I do know is that the penalty and touchdown was the worst of all the possible results for the Cardinals
The game went on, and the Cardinals dominated. In the end, the dead ball foul by Bell early in the game did not prevent the Cardinals from achieving their sixth victory of the season. But that victory came despite of and not because of Bell’s actions. Winning teams don’t shoot themselves in the foot. At a minimum, Bell pointed the pistol in that direction.