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Ryan Lindley replaces John Skelton in Cardinals' loss

You don't often see a quarterback change when a team leads 13-3. But the Arizona Cardinals aren't your average team.


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Cardinals coach Ken Whisenhunt replaced John Skelton with rookie Ryan Lindley in the second quarter of Sunday's 23-19 loss to the Atlanta Falcons, and the move was deemed a "coach's decision," a team source told NFL.com's Steve Wyche.

"If you're going to hold all the guys on the team accountable, you've got to include every position," Whisenhunt said after the game, via The Associated Press.

"Not just the quarterback," he added. "We're in the business of winning games. That's what we have to do. We're going to make the changes that we feel we need to make going forward, and that's what we said we're going to do. We're sticking to that. Like I said, the quarterback is not exempt from that."

The Cardinals started fast against the Falcons, but it would have been faster had Skelton played better. Skelton went 2-of-7 passing for 6 yards before the benching.

Skelton missed a wide-open Larry Fitzgerald for a potential touchdown after Matt Ryan's third interception of the game. The Cardinals settled for a field goal and went three-and-out on three consecutive drives. Arizona's points came from the running game and turnovers.

Still, it's fair to question the timing of the decision. The Cardinals just came off a bye week. If Whisenhunt had such a short hook for Skelton, why not prepare Lindley as the starter during the bye week?

The decision didn't turn out well immediately for Whisenhunt. Lindley lost a fumble that was returned for a touchdown on his second pass and finished 9-of-20 passing for 64 yards.

Follow Gregg Rosenthal on Twitter @greggrosenthal.

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