NFL Wire News

3 things we learned about the Cardinals

on

The Sports Xchange

DETROIT — Patrick Peterson knew that once the Arizona Cardinals defense collected two early turnovers, the takeaways would keep on coming.

“As a defense, we always say that once we get one early, they’re going to continue falling out of the sky,” the team’s shutdown cornerback said Sunday. “That’s what they did today. Tipped balls, pursuing guys to the ball, stripping ball-carriers from behind — they were just falling right in our lap.”

The ballhawking Cardinals wound up forcing six turnovers as they cruised past the winless Detroit Lions 42-17 at Ford Field. Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford was benched midway through the third quarter after he was picked three times.

“They were like piranhas today,” Arizona coach Bruce Arians said. “There was blood in the water. Once the turnovers started, they’re competing for them.”

The Cardinals’ offense often worked with short fields, and it scored 21 points off the Lions’ giveaways. Quarterback Carson Palmer tossed three touchdown passes, and running back David Johnson added two rushing touchdowns.

Running back Chris Johnson gained 103 yards on 11 carries, strong safety Rashad Johnson had two interceptions, and running back Andre Ellington added a 63-yard scoring run for the Cardinals (4-1).

Arizona, which bounced back after a home loss to the Rams, leads the NFC West by two games after losses by St. Louis and the Seattle Seahawks on Sunday.

Lions coach Jim Caldwell said he didn’t have a quarterback controversy despite benching Stafford.

“It’s like a pitcher not having a very good day,” said Caldwell, who added he also won’t make any coaching changes. “The pitcher comes out, but the pitcher obviously is still the starter. He’s a starter, so there will be no issues there.”

Backup Dan Orlovsky threw for 191 yards with one touchdown pass and one interception for the Lions (0-5).

What we learned about the Cardinals:

–1. Their defense is as opportunistic as ever and showed resolve after a subpar performance against St. Louis the previous week. The Cards forced four turnovers in the first half alone and wound up with six. Strong safety Rashad Johnson set the tone by intercepting a Matthew Stafford pass on the opening series and added another later in the game. Veteran defensive lineman Cory Redding nearly scored on an interception return in the second quarter. The loss of defensive coordinator Todd Bowles, who became the New York Jets head coach, has not affected the Cardinals’ aggressive scheme in any shape or form.

–2. Arizona has a formidable running game, thanks to journeyman running back Chris Johnson. Cast aside by the New York Jets after last season, Johnson has emerged as the lead back ahead of oft-injured Andre Ellington. Johnson followed up 110- and 83-yard rushing performances by gaining 103 yards on 11 carries. He burst through the line for runs of 25 and 40 yards in the first half. David Johnson added a couple of rushing touchdowns and Ellington broke off a 63-yard scoring run in the second half. “It was good to see Andre back out there,” coach Bruce Arians said.

–3. Carson Palmer and his offensive teammates don’t like to be in a hurry. Coach Bruce Arians joked that the Cards really were in a no-huddle early in the game, even though some people may not have noticed. Arizona failed to cash in on two early turnovers but once they abandoned the no-huddle tactic, the offense started humming. Quarterback Carson Palmer completed all but three of his passes and the running game found a spark. “Other than the no-huddle stuff, Carson was spot on,” Arians said.

Etc.:

–DT Cory Redding made one of the sweetest plays of his career, picking off a Matthew Stafford pass and returning it 30 yards during the first half of Arizona’s 42-17 win at Detroit. Stafford dove and knocked Redding down inside the 5, preventing him from scoring. It was just the second career interception by the 13-year veteran, who had one with the Ravens in 2010. Redding spent the first six years of his career with Detroit. “He did tell me this was going to be a big game for him,” cornerback Patrick Patterson said. “The game meant a lot to him and he played like it.”

–LB Alex Okafor suffered a right calf injury early in the fourth quarter on Sunday and did not return. Okafor, who had to be helped off the field, has been plagued by injuries during his three-year career. He missed most of his rookie season with a torn biceps tendon and also sat out three games last year with a quad injury. He will return to Arizona for an MRI. If he’s out for an extended period, Kareem Martin and rookie Shaq Riddick will compete for time at the WILL spot.

–SS Rashad Johnson picked off two passes as Arizona forced six turnovers at Detroit on Sunday. Johnson came into the game with one interception but picked off Matthew Stafford on Detroit’s first possession. He needs one more to match his total from last season. “Rashad is a gladiator,” cornerback Patrick Patterson said. “He puts guys in position. We call him Nick Saban because he’s like a defensive coordinator on the field for us.”


About The Sports Xchange

Since 1987, the Sports Xchange has been the best source of information and analysis for the top professionals in the sports publishing & information business