TEMPE, ARIZ., SEPT. 30 -- A quarterback making his first start in pro football usually encounters a defense doing its utmost to harass and confuse him.
It's standard operating procedure, but the Phoenix Cardinals didn't follow it tonight. For their negligence, they were buried, 38-10, by the Washington Redskins and their newly minted starting quarterback, Stan Humphries.
"We didn't have any pressure or penetration," defensive tackle Jim Wahler said. "We didn't use any stunts or blitzes. I can't figure it out."
The Cardinals were kept completely off-balance by the effectiveness of the Redskins' rushing game and the pressure of trying to contain receivers Gary Clark and Art Monk.
Playing a soft, tentative defense, the Cardinals couldn't handle anything. It was a cushy defense, and Humphries destroyed it by completing 20 of 25 passes for 257 yards and two touchdowns to Clark.
"Humphries picked us apart with short stuff, then he winged it deep," Wahler said. "We didn't do anything to frustrate him."
The Cardinals were frustrated by their inability to stifle the Redskins' ground game. Sloppy tackling didn't help.
"They whipped us good," defensive end Freddie Joe Nunn said. "We didn't get to Humphries and we didn't stop the run. You can't win in this league if you don't stop the run."
The Redskins averaged 4.6 yards per rush and often had the Cardinals perplexed on second-and-short situations.
"They ran it right at us, five yards here, five yards there, and we broke down," safety Tim McDonald said.
The Cardinals, in a futile effort to stop the running of Gerald Riggs and Earnest Byner, moved McDonald and fellow safety Lonnie Young closer to the line of scrimmage.
But that tactic left cornerbacks Cedric Mack and Jay Taylor without deep help, and they weren't able to stop The Posse alone.
Working against single coverage, Clark got behind Mack for a pair of 42-yard touchdowns.
"Sometimes, the corner has to make the play himself," McDonald said, "but you can't just blame him. The corner needs help from the defensive line pressuring the quarterback, and he needs help from the safeties too."
Linebacker Eric Hill said the Cardinals' pass rushers were slowed by having to play the run. "They couldn't lay their ears back and go after Humphries," Hill said. "The Redskins just controlled the chains. On second and short, we didn't know what they'd do."
McDonald was impressed with Humphries, but with a qualifier.
"He put the ball in the end zone and he didn't make any mistakes," McDonald said. "But we made it easier for him by not stopping their running game. I don't know if they could have beaten us if he just sat back and threw. It was a poor game for us. We were just embarrassed."
The Redskins didn't employ any fancy wrinkles against the Phoenix secondary, according to Taylor.
"They didn't do any crazy, funkadelic stuff," the Cardinals cornerback said. "They kept it down to where Humphries could make the plays. But once you establish the run the way they did, you can do about anything off the pass."
The combination of running, passing and an error-free performance by Humphries were overwhelming.
"They just did so much so effectively," said Young. "But we just stunk up the place. This is the most frustrating, disappointing loss since I've been here because I know we're a better team than we displayed tonight."