The Arizona Cardinals, losers of three straight following a 21-14 defeat at Minnesota after opening 4-0, feel as if losing is all that's happened this season when reality is it has been just a month.
The Cardinals were soaring early with wins over New England, Seattle, Philadelphia and Miami.
Losses to St. Louis, Buffalo and Minnesota has everything seeming like the bottom has fallen out, and with San Francisco, Green Bay and Atlanta in the next month, the Cardinals could be in the beginning of a long, hard fall.
While the Cardinals' grade might seem inflated, several factors come into play. The team outgained Minnesota 356-209 and did so with better balance than in previous weeks, as John Skelton -- in his first start since Week 1 -- passed for 262 yards and LaRod Stephens-Howling rushed for a career-high 104 yards. While Skelton was sacked seven times, he generally had better protection than Kevin Kolb, who was sacked more than 20 times in the Cardinals' previous three games. But, ultimately, Arizona shot itself in the foot a few times after getting fantastic field position, and that holds them back from a higher grade. Even if a B- is generous. Previous game's grade: D+
The Cardinals were great against the pass and terrible against the run, and that splits it right down the middle. Sure, Arizona flustered and frustrated Christian Ponder into 8 of 17 passing for 58 yards with two interceptions and sacked him three times. But Adrian Peterson proved that he is, in fact, part cyborg, rushing for 153 yards and a touchdown on a knee that was torn on Christmas Eve last year. Clearly, he's back. His yardage and yards-per-carry were both season-highs, and his 23 carries was his second-highest total of the year. Previous game's grade: B-
Special teams: C
It's as if Jay Feely's foot has followed the Cardinals' misfortunes. Through four games, both were perfect, Feely hitting on all seven of his field goal attempts and all 10 extra points. During Arizona's three-game slide, he's missed a field goal in each game, including a 47-yarder against the Vikings. Also, what's up with Patrick Peterson? After averaging nearly 16 yards per punt return as a rookie, with four touchdowns, he's down to 8.8 this year. Previous game's grade: C+
When the offense gets good yardage, field position and first downs and doesn't commit too many turnovers, yet still can't score points, you have to look at the play-calling. Arizona's limitations up front are more than apparent, but the Cardinals have to exploit play-action or quick passes more. The quarterback -- be it Skelton or Kolb -- cannot continue to be sacked seven times a game. Previous game's grade: C
For more news and analysis from Cardinals blogger Jon Gold, follow @CBSCards on Twitter.