Top Ten Most Exciting Games of 2010: Cardinals at Rams

Can two of the worst teams in the NFL play a compelling game? Efficiency, after all, though abstract as a concept, is comprised of tangible, felt-in-the-gut events. Inefficient teams suffer missed assignments and general disorganization by their offensive lines. Inefficient teams suffer discordant timing between their quarterback and wide receivers. Inefficient teams suffer poor spacing and reaction time from their defensive backs. The data that inform a 31st ranked passing offense or a 22nd ranked run defense is in fact the distillation of a season’s worth of errant passes, drops, missed blocks, over-pursuit, blown coverages and missed tackles into a number.

So can the worst team in the NFL and the 30th ranked team in the NFL, by efficiency, play an exciting game?

The answer, of course, is yes. And it isn’t “yes” because there are more things in heaven and earth, Brian, than are dreamt of in your statistics. It is “yes” because football is relative, and bad teams tend to burnish each other’s strengths and mask each other’s weaknesses. If only the best of the best talent, playing at the very peak of their ability, in the most expertly crafted and executed system, were able to play a compelling game of football, well then, college football wouldn’t exist.

So surely the Rams and Cardinals could play a compelling game of football in week one of the regular season, but did they? Well, do you enjoy college football? How about a low-scoring slog punctuated by big moments from legitimately great players?

Arizona traveled to St. Louis in week one of the regular season. It was a game filled with portent. It was first overall pick, quarterback Sam Bradford’s first regular season start of his career. Wait, did I write “portent?” I meant to write, it was a game smothered in tacked-on storylines. It was Derek Anderson’s first start as a Cardinal, Arizona’s first chance to defend their illustrious NFC West title, Bradford’s first chance to obscure an expectantly weak rookie campaign with a few sort-of exciting plays, and Larry Fitzgerald’s first chance to sink some poor sap’s fantasy season. It was football and a retrograde strain of it, but it was football and darn it if that isn’t a welcome sight in June.