Extra Points: Whisenhunt losing control in Arizona

John Skelton or Ryan Lindley?

That's like asking a condemned man if he wants a firing squad or a paralyzing agent running through his veins.

Arizona Cardinals coach Ken Whisenhunt hasn't been sentenced to the unemployment line just yet but the appeals process is sure running thin after an embarrassing 58-0 loss in Seattle on Sunday.

The Seahawks had four interceptions in the rout, including one returned for a touchdown, and recovered four fumbles, two of which came on muffed punts and one of those was returned for a touchdown.

"The turnovers were the story. You got to do well when you get eight," said Seattle coach Pete Carroll.

Russell Wilson didn't need to do too much as the Seahawks' defense and Marshawn Lynch did most of the heavy lifting, but the rookie did throw a touchdown and managed the game for Seattle, which scored the highest number of points and recorded the largest shutout win in franchise history.

Conversely, it was the worst loss in franchise history and the most points ever scored by an opponent for the Cardinals.

Forget the Peyton Mannings of the world, Arizona would kill for a player like Wilson right now.

"Let me just start off by saying, I apologize to our fans, everybody associated with our organization," Whisenhunt said. "That was embarrassing today. We owe it to them, our fans, our supporters, to give them a better product, a better job than what we did today."

"Embarrassing" would prove to be a theme for Arizona.

"Ass kicking," Skelton said of the game, "that's the only thing you can say. For them to come out and dominate the way they did in every phase of the game, it's embarrassing."

Quarterback is certainly the most important position in football and maybe all of sports.

Sure, signal-callers do get more credit than they probably deserve when a team wins and certainly receive more of the blame than necessary when things go south.

That said, 53 men look to the quarterback as the team's leader whether it's a raw rookie like Wilson or a time-tested veteran like Manning, and Whisenhunt's indecision from week-to-week is not helping anyone in the desert.

In fact maybe the tea leaves pointed to this rout before the game.

The embattled Whisenhunt evidently hit the name Skelton on his dartboard in the days leading up to the contest.

It was the Fordham product's third turn as Arizona's starter this season. Skelton took over for Lindley, who had replaced Skelton, who came in for an injured Kevin Kolb after the former Eagle replaced the injured Skelton in a season-opening win against Seattle.

If your head is spinning, imagine how Whisenhunt's team feels.

Skelton was picked off four times by the Seahawks and also lost a fumble. He managed just 74 yards on 11-of-22 attempts before getting pulled again for the rookie Lindley.

Since starting the season with four straight wins, the Cardinals have been in a free-fall, losing an NFL-leading nine straight games and matching their longest hiccup in nearly seven decades.

Skelton's passer rating this season is now a dismal 55.4 and it actually dwarfs Lindley's embarrassing 42.6 effort. Heck, the fact that this team regards the pedestrian Kolb as some kind of savior tells you all you need to know.

Players generally know quicker than anyone else -- even the coaches -- if one of their own isn't doing his part. You can overcome a below average player at most positions as long as you are strong everywhere else, but not at quarterback.

Playing musical chairs at the position isn't the answer either, however.

"Part of our struggles have been tied into the inconsistency at that position," Whisenhunt said. "You've got to have something there that can cover up some other areas, and we're not getting that. It seems like we're getting the other direction, sometimes."

Whisenhunt may have suffered his most embarrassing loss to Seattle but his quarterback carousel is costing him far more. All the hedging and lack of continuity is exposing him to his team.

Back in Week 13, during a mind-numbing 7-6 setback to the Jets, Cards defensive tackle Darnell Dockett refused to listen to Whisenhunt and defensive coordinator Ray Horton when they ordered the defense to allow the Jets to score a touchdown late, something that would have given Arizona at least a chance to get the ball back and score a game-tying touchdown.

Granted that's probably a laughable thought process considering the ineptitude of the Cardinals offense but it was sound mathematically at least and something Dockett should have been on board with.

Instead Dockett, who is considered to be one the top defensive tackles in the game, got in a heated on-field argument with teammate Kerry Rhodes over the strategy, something which turned out to be moot since New York understood the situation and didn't bite as running back Shonn Greene downed the ball at the 1-yard line.

According to, Dockett actually spat in Rhodes' face during the fight, something the veteran apologized to Rhodes for. However, Dockett refused to apologize for his original stance of laying down and giving points to the opposition.

"It's something that I don't believe in, something that I didn't understand," Dockett said. "It was frustrating at the time. At the end of the day, I am never, never going to lay down and quit. I love the game. I play with passion and I'll never quit."

Well a whole lot of Cardinals laid down in Seattle on Sunday and just as many quit on Whisenhunt.

"Right now, we're not very good, to be quite honest with you," safety Adrian Wilson told the Arizona Republic. "The old cliche is look at yourself in the mirror and see what you're doing wrong, see if you can be man enough to correct it.

"Right now, I don't know if there are enough men looking at themselves in the mirror."



For the second straight Saturday, an NFL player died at the age of 25 and another team spent Sunday playing while grieving at the same time.

Last week it was the Chiefs playing the Carolina Panthers barely 24 hours after Javon Belcher's horrifying murder-suicide spree. This time the Cowboys took the field in Cincinnati after nose tackle Josh Brent was arrested early Saturday morning on intoxication manslaughter charges after a car accident killed his teammate Jerry Brown.

Just like Kansas City, Dallas banded together and won a key interconference thriller, 20-19, over the Bengals.

Cincinnati led most of the afternoon before Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo found Dez Bryant for a 27-yard touchdown pass in the fourth quarter to bring the Cowboys to within 19-17. The Dallas defense then held before Romo and Co. drove into field goal range for a 40-yard Dan Bailey game-winner as time expired.

"We obviously had a very difficult situation, a tragedy, happen to our football team. It's been really emotional for everybody," Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett said. "All we asked our team was ... to some how, some way, channel all the emotions they had into honoring Jerry in their performance."

The win put the Cowboys over .500 on the season at 7-6 and enabled them to stay within striking distance of both the NFC East lead and the final NFC wild card berth.

"We needed to win," Romo said. "Our team continues to be mentally tough and staying in this thing. I'm proud of our guys."

Remember, however, the Chiefs had little time to think about Belcher's actions before taking the field and upsetting the Panthers. This time around after dealing with all the questions as well as the grieving process for a mentally ill teammate, his murdered wife and orphaned daughter, Kansas City was trounced in Cleveland.

Dallas will face similar hurdles this week as the club tries to stay focused for a Week 15 encounter against a desperate Pittsburgh team.

According to the Irving Police Department, Brent, 24, was driving on Highway 114 in the Dallas suburb early Saturday morning at a high rate of speed when his vehicle hit a curb causing it to flip at least one time before coming to rest in the middle of the service road. Brown was unresponsive after the crash and was taken to an area hospital, where he was later pronounced dead.

"We are deeply saddened by the news of this accident and the passing of Jerry Brown," Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said. "At this time, our hearts and prayers and deepest sympathies are with the members of Jerry's family and all of those who knew him and loved him."

All NFL teams offer their players and coaches a car service available 24 hours a day so some just don't understand how a run-of-the-mill DUI happens, never mind something this tragic.

That, however, is a simplistic view.

Sure, if Tom Brady had a few too many on any particular night, he can call the service and rest assured that Bill Belichick won't care.

But fringe players, who sometimes can be fighting for a job on a week-to-week basis, aren't all that interested in alerting anyone in their organizations about their personal habits, especially ones that can be looked down upon.

After all if you're the 53rd man on the roster and you like to frequent strip clubs, a team just might decide to replace you with a family man, who enjoys spending Saturday night with the wife and kids.

It would be great if twentysomethings could exhibit the type of maturity we expect of those much older but that's pie-in-the-sky type stuff.

Drunk driving and domestic violence issues are hardly exclusive to the NFL but when things go awry in America's national pastime, it's front page news.

For now, it's all about baby steps and trying to make it a week without another tragedy


Players around the NFL wore patches on their jerseys Sunday to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Outspoken Minnesota Vikings punter Chris Kluwe used his patch as an opportunity to get out his latest message, covering it with athletic tape that read "Vote for Ray Guy."

Guy, the legendary 1970s Oakland Raiders punter, is not in the Hall of Fame. In fact, no punter is and Kluwe wants to right the injustice and get Guy into Canton.

It's hard to argue against Guy, a six-time All-Pro and the only punter in history to be selected in the first round of the NFL draft.

In fact, his exclusion is really an indictment of the voters and the voting process of the Hall. Too many of the voters don't spend the time to research the history of the game and act very provincially toward their hometown teams.

"It actually is a very serious matter because you look at it and the way the selection process is set up right now it's highly unlikely that a punter will ever get into the Hall of Fame," Kluwe told ESPN. "To me if you're going to be the gate keepers to what the game is about and you refuse to recognize a facet of the game you're not doing your job. You are failing at your job."

Kluwe understands he's going to be fined by the "No Fun League" for his uniform violation but he has never been a shrinking violet when it comes to voicing opinions, be it on political topics like gay marriage or the absurdity of Guy's absence from Canton.

"Whether it's voting the punter in or changing the selection process, something has to be done because you've got coaches, administrators, people who have never even played the game that are in the Hall of Fame." Kluwe said. "And you're saying guys that actually went out there and played, they can't be in? That's kind of bogus."


The winning points were scored in the final two minutes or overtime in four games on Sunday, bringing the season total to 47 such games and tying the 2003 season for the most through the first 14 weeks of a season since the 1970 merger.

Bailey kicked the game-winner for the Cowboys in Cincinnati, while their NFC East rival, the Washington Redskins, kept pace thanks to Kirk Cousins.

Cousins replaced an injured Robert Griffin III and threw an 11-yard touchdown pass to Pierre Garcon with 29 seconds left in the fourth before running in the game-tying 2-point conversion for Washington in a thrilling 31-28 overtime triumph over the Baltimore Ravens at FedEx Field. Kai Forbath eventually came through with a 34-yard game-winning kick in the extra frame.

"It was a great victory," said Garcon. "A lot of guys stepped up. Kirk stepped up great, ran the ball well, did a lot of great things. The defense played well in the second half and in the first half, and Kirk gave us a chance and it came through when we really needed it."

In Tampa, Philadelphia rookie quarterback Nick Foles threw a one-yard touchdown pass to Jeremy Maclin as time expired helping the Eagles snap an ugly eight-game losing streak with a 23-21 win over the Bucs.

"(Foles) came off (the field) and he wanted that play. That's the one he liked the best. He was feeling it," said Eagles coach Andy Reid. "Hey, listen, that's a great thing when your quarterback is in tune like that. When he came off he was saying, 'I'm feeling this one right here.' I'm proud of the kid."

Finally, the St. Louis Rams scored on a 13-yard touchdown pass from Sam Bradford to Brandon Gibson with 48 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter to win at Buffalo 15-12.

"The offensive guys came alive on the last drive and made plays," Rams coach Jeff Fisher said.


-Foles' game-winning touchdown pass was the third thrown by a rookie quarterback this season with no time remaining (Foles, Week 14; Andrew Luck, Week 13 and Wilson, Week 3). Prior to 2012, it had only been accomplished twice by rookies from 1970-2011 (Matthew Stafford, 2009 and Tim Couch, 1999). Foles also set Eagles single-game rookie passing records with 32 completions and 381 yards.

-MVP candidate Adrian Peterson rushed for 154 yards and two touchdowns in the Vikings' 21-14 win over Chicago. This season, Peterson has rushed for 1,600 yards and 10 touchdowns while averaging 6.04 yards per carry. He is the third player in NFL history to rush for at least 1,600 yards and 10 touchdowns while averaging 6.0 yards per carry in his team's first 13 games. The other two players are Jim Brown (1963) and O.J. Simpson (1973).

Peterson has also rushed for 10 touchdowns on the season, matching LaDainian Tomlinson as the only players in NFL history to rush for at least 10 touchdowns in each of his first six seasons.

-Carolina quarterback Cam Newton passed for 287 yards with two touchdowns and rushed for 116 yards with one touchdown in the Panthers' 30-20 upset win over Atlanta, becoming the first player in NFL history with at least 250 passing yards, 100 rushing yards and a touchdown pass and a touchdown run in a game.

-New York Giants rookie David Wilson scored three touchdowns (two rushing, one kickoff return) and had a franchise-record 327 all-purpose yards (227 kickoff return, 100 rushing) in the Giants'52-27 rout over New Orleans. Wilson is the first player in NFL history with at least 200 kickoff return yards and 100 rushing yards in the same game.