Holy Smokey! Five Things We Learned From the Cardinals Thriller vs. Phily

The Arizona Cardinals are now 6-1 on the season after they knock off the Philadelphia Eagles 24-20 in thrilling fashion from University of Phoenix Stadium on Sunday. Here are five things we learned from the game.

Offensive struggles: One of the biggest highlights of the game was Larry Fitzgerald’s 80 yard touchdown to begin the third which gave the Cardinals their first lead of the game. After that, the Cardinals offense would go three-and-out on three consecutive possessions and the Eagles took advantage of the great field position. First getting into field goal range for Cody Parkey, and then a beautifully executed 54 yard touchdown pass from Nick Foles to Jeremy Maclin gave the Eagles the lead right back. Then after the touchdown as the Cardinals start to get something going offensively, Nate Allen makes a spectacular play to force an Andre Ellington fumble, then recover and keep two feet in bounds. All-in-all they had four three-and-out possessions in the second half and Bruce Arians said after the game that he takes the blame for not having the right game plan.

BUT…

Holy Smokey Brown: Carson Palmer gave John Brown a “signal” on third and five with a 1:20 left in the game. The signal was that they saw bracket coverage and Brown was being covered by a safety in the slot. Which means, Brown, you run like we know you can run down the field. Brown did, caught up to a bomb thrown by Palmer and came down with the ball for a 75 yard score to give the Cardinals a 24-20 lead. The incredible story that is John “Smokey” Brown continues and today he made the game winning play with his mom and other family in the stands for a game that had eyes all over the nation paying attention.

Penalties: The first half seemed like it took forever and it was not because it was a shootout between the two offenses. In fact it was the opposite, as the score at halftime was 7-7. The reason it moved so slow, penalties. There were 16 penalties called in the first half for both teams combined. For the Eagles, they had five penalties for 40 yards in the first quarter alone. Four came on their first defensive possession of the game and finished the game with 10. The Cardinals did not fare as well either as they have seven first half penalties for 65 yards and finished the game with 11 for 103 yards. The two teams went on to combine for 21 penalties for 198 yards. For two teams eyeing the playoffs, unforced errors will be a big part of how they fare as the season rolls along. 

Secondary problems: The only rule of thumb in football is if your going to blitz, you better make sure that the protection in the secondary is sound. For the first six games of the season, the Cardinals have lived and died by Todd Bowles’ aggressive blitzing schemes. On Sunday, especially in the first half, they were CLOSE to dying by the blitz as Nick Foles had just enough time to carve up the Cardinals secondary. He was 19-30 for 222 yards and a touchdown in the first half alone. But the defense was able to sneak away without too much damage in that half forcing two turnovers deep in their own territory. A Frostee Rucker forced fumbled recovered by Deone Bucannon at the two and an interceptions by Antonio Cromartie in the end zone. Cromartie would have two in the game. Jerraud Powers came stepped up once again for the defense after Patrick Peterson left the game on a scary play. He will spend this week going through the concussion protocol. 

Slick as a Cat: A NFL record was set on Sunday by an Arizona Cardinal. Rookie kicker Chandler Catanzaro made his 16th consecutive field goal of the season in the third quarter tying the game at 17. Number 16 made it the most consecutive field goals by a rookie to start a career. Previous record was set by St Louis Rams kicker Greg Zuerlein in 2012 by nailing 15 in a row to start his career.

Cardinals hit the road to face the top rushing team in the entire league as well as the first place team in the NFC East, the Dallas Cowboys from Jerry’s World next week.