The Arizona Cardinals snapped their modest two-game losing streak with a hard-fought 17-14 win over the Kansas City Chiefs Sunday afternoon before a raucous sell out crowd at University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale. Quarterback Drew Stanton completed 15-30 for 239 yards and a touchdown. Arizona improves to 10-3, still good for first-place in the NFC West. The slumping Chiefs fall to 7-6.
Here are five things we learned in the win:
1. Ask Kerwynn Williams…so who exactly is Kerwynn Williams? Good question. “Just in case you don’t know who Kerwynn Williams is, he’s number 33,” head coach Bruce Arians joked to begin his post-game media session. The former practice squad member, whose name wasn’t even on the game day media flip card depth chart roster, gave the Cardinals some much-needed punch to the running game with Andre Ellington out Sunday and for the rest of the year. Ellington will have hernia surgery this week in Philadelphia. The second-year back out of Utah State showed burst off the edge and strength between the tackles gaining 100 yards on 19 attempts. He became the first Cardinals’ running back to hit the century mark this season. “He’s got power for a smaller guy.” Arians said. He was given the game ball according to Arians.
2. Game Changer…Arizona’s bend-but-don’t-break defense allowed almost 400 yards of total offense but pitched a second half shutout holding KC scoreless in the second half. SAM linebacker Alex Okafor’s third quarter interception, the first of his NFL career, not only thwarted a Chiefs’ drive but set up Arizona’s eventual go-ahead score. “It was huge,” Arians said. “We needed a big play right there.” Okafor also added a sack and two quarterback hits. Arians also deserves credit for challenging an apparent fumble by tight end Travis Kelce deep in Arizona territory late in the fourth quarter. The call on the field of Kelce being down was reversed.
3. Zoning Out…Arizona’s inability to score touchdowns continues to haunt Bruce Arian’s team. The Cards came into the game in the bottom third of the league (22nd overall) in red zone touchdowns (51.85%). Against the Chiefs Arizona managed just three field goals through nearly three quarters before Drew Stanton found Jaron Brown down the seam for a 26-yards touchdown on third-and-18. It will continue to be a point of emphasis for Arians and the staff as they close out the regular season against NFC West foes.
4. A Perfect 10…the 10 wins matches the Cards total from 2014 and gives Arizona momentum going into a short week. They play the Rams, coming off a shutout win over the Redskins, in St. Louis on Thursday Night Football. The 10 victories marked the eighth time in team history they’ve accomplished the feat. “The tenth win is the hardest,” Arians explained. “We’re not settling for 10 this year.” Arizona remains perfect at home. Their seven wins are the most for the franchise since 1925 and the highest total in a 16-game season.
5. Charles in Charge…Jamaal Charles was up to his old tricks Sunday afternoon. In the first quarter he broke through the line of scrimmage and burst past the Cards secondary for a 63-yard touchdown. Then minutes after returning from the locker room with a slight ankle sprain, he turned a simple route out of the backfield into an 18-yard catch and run score. The three-time Pro-Bolwer is the type of back Arizona hopes Ellington will develop into. A workhorse out of the backfield and just as dangerous as a receiver. He finished with 91 yards on just 10 carries and caught two passes for 20 more.