NFL Wire News

Arians tries to humble 3-0 Cardinals

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The Sports Xchange

TEMPE, Ariz. — Arizona Cardinals coach Bruce Arians said he is relying on the team’s veterans to keep everyone’s ego in check after a 3-0 start.

But that’s not quite true. Arians is puncturing balloons of giddiness, too.

Last Wednesday, he opened the week of preparing for the 49ers game by telling his team, “You ain’t s—.”

He repeated that same message after the 47-7 victory over the 49ers on Sunday. But he did give his squad a little credit.

“They smell just a little better,” Arians said.

The Cardinals are 3-0 for the second consecutive season, something the franchise hasn’t done since 1923-24.

The Cardinals lead the league in points, with 126, and have 17 touchdowns. They scored more than 40 points in their last two games, something the franchise last accomplished in 1969.

“That was a pretty good football game for us,” Arians said Sunday night.

It was important for the Cardinals to get off to a fast start this season. Including this Sunday’s game against the Rams, three of their first four games are at home. The first five are against NFC opponents.

Beginning in week five, the Cardinals play six of eight on the road, so they needed a cushion before hitting that difficult part of the schedule.

It’s a confident group of players, but there is also a strong veteran presence that should serve the team well in good times and bad.

During the good times, their job is to temper enthusiasm and keep younger player focused on each day’s work.

“We know that three games can’t get us to the playoffs.” safety Rashad Johnson said. “It can’t get us to the Super Bowl. Until we reach that goal of sealing the NFC West and having home-field advantage throughout, we haven’t done anything. That’s how you stay grounded.”

REPORT CARD VS. 49ERS

–PASSING OFFENSE: B-plus. Carson Palmer had a pass intercepted, which lowered the grade from an A. He also passed for 311 yards and two touchdowns, both to receiver Larry Fitzgerald. Palmer dropped back 33 times and was sacked once.

–RUSHING OFFENSE: A. Chris Johnson made his second consecutive start and gained 110 yards on 22 carries. He showed explosiveness that he hadn’t in earlier appearances, with rushes of 14, 15 and 30 yards and a 40-yard pass reception. The Cardinals gained 139 yards overall, the third consecutive game in which they have exceeded 100 yards.

–PASS DEFENSE: A. The Cardinals returned two interceptions for touchdowns in the first six minutes of the game. They had more return yards on interceptions (71) than the 49ers had passing (53). Six different defensive backs have intercepted at least one pass this season.

–RUSH DEFENSE: B-plus. The 49ers rushed for 103 yards but averaged only 3.6 yards a carry. Their longest run was 14 yards, and they were stopped for a safety, too.

–SPECIAL TEAMS: C. Punter Drew Butler provided the low point of the game for the Cardinals, booting one that went just 34 yards. The 49ers returned it 37. It was the only time they were in Cardinals territory all day. It led to their only touchdown.

–COACHING: A. The Cardinals were on point again, against a clearly inferior opponent. The defensive game plan was effective: stop the run, make Colin Kaepernick throw the ball. It worked. And Bruce Arians’ offensive game plan worked perfectly. They took advantage of matchups in the secondary, including using Larry Fitzgerald in the slot effectively.


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