You want to talk about a bizarre start to a football game? How about this: The 4-5 Cardinals, losers of five straight, raced out to a 13-0 lead on the road against the 8-1 Falcons ... then benched their starting quarterback in favor of a rookie with zero career NFL passes.
Arizona may have scored the first 13 points Saturday in Atlanta, but with no help from QB John Skelton. Making his fifth start of the season, Skelton opened Sunday's game 2 of 7 for six yards, plus missed an open Larry Fitzgerald for a possible touchdown pass -- limiting the damage the Cardinals did off three Matt Ryan interceptions.
After that pitiful start from Skelton, the Cardinals turned things over to Ryan Lindley.
The 185th overall pick in last April's draft, Lindley completed 48 of 92 passes during the preseason with one touchdown and four interceptions. He had not seen any action during the regular season and only held his position as the backup QB because of an injury to Kevin Kolb.
Lindley's first possession might have left the Cardinals rethinking their decision. The San Diego State product threw an incompletion on his first snap, then coughed up the football on 3rd-and-4. The Falcons recovered the fumble and raced it in for a touchdown (the play was reviewed to see if Lindley's arm had been moving forward, but no such luck for the Cardinals).
Overall, Lindley's day did not fare much better. The rookie finished 9 of 20 for 64 yards, with no touchdowns and no interceptions. In fact, that 13-0 lead he was handed disappeared in a 23-19 loss. Lindley had 10 drives with which to pad the Cardinals' surprising lead, which resulted in this: fumble, punt, field goal, punt, punt, punt, field goal, punt, punt, turnover on downs. Perhaps most depressingly of all for Cards fans, the team's inability to find even decent play at quarterback is wasting the prime years of Larry Fitzgerald. It's got to hurt having one of the best weapons in the league, only to see him put up stat lines like the one he did against Atlanta: 1 catch, 7 yards. The Cards thought Lindley could provide a spark in the passing game, but it wound up being the same old story for a team that has now lost six in a row.