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The Setup
The previous Sunday, the Cards staged a 4Q comeback to win going-away vs. the Rams; but, in doing so, lost their starting QB, Carson Palmer for the remainder of the season. The Lions celebrated Megatron's return by outscoring the Dolphs 10 - 3 in the 4Q to win 20 - 16. They were now 7 & 2 and feeling pretty good about themselves. Media was all over the issue of: "Can the 8 & 1 Cards win without Palmer?"
.

The Lede
Cards score early. Defense seals 14 - 6 win over Lions..


The Bottom Line:
Drew Stanton threw two TD passes to Michael Floyd on the Cardinals' first two possessions, and the Cardinal defense held the Lion offensive juggernaught to two field goals to preserve a 14 - 6 win and expand their record to 9 & 1 - best in the NFL. An underrated factor in our win were the 9 penalties they took (compared to our 4). Penalties make a difference in a close game like this.

Game Recap
Stanton made it look easy the first two times the Cards had the ball - making the Cardinal offense look like "Play Station on Steroids - but an interception on the next Cardinal possession seemed to take some of the wind out of his sails and a second interception two possessions later (committed during the "witching hour" - a "tradition" where, each week just before halftime, the Cardinals generously give away points to their opponents - seemed to cause Coach Arians to rein in his play-calling and dedicate the remainder of the game to preserving the win by minimizing additional mistakes and letting his defense shut down the vaunted Lion offense. Strategy worked - the Cards shut out the Lions during the second half while the Cardinals played close to mistake-free football to secure the 14 - 6 win.

1st Quarter
  • Cards received.TB on the KO. First series: Ellington up the gut for minus-1, Incomplete pass to Fitz, 12-yard completion to John Brown for the 1D. A defensive holding penalty nullified an interception bu Quin. After Ellington gained 17-yards ff left tackle, Stanton hit Floyd in the end zone on a deep fade for a 42-yard TD. Cards 7 - Lions 0.

  • Ross returned the KO to the Lion 19. Lions (running twice) went three & out. Punt was fielded by Ginn at the Cardinal 23 for no gain. After a 2 yard run followed by an incomplete pass deep for Floyd, Arians & Stanton dialed up what I thought was one of the most creatively designed play I can recall seeing: Stanton targeted lead-blocking specialist, Hughes on what can best be described as a power-screen, hitting him in full-stride as he powered straight ahead up the middle behind a bevy of blockers for 47 yards to the Detroit 21. Three plays later, Stanton hit Floyd with a back-shoulder throw just beyond the right-pilon in the end zone for the second Cardinal score. Cards 14 - Lions 0.

  • TB on the KO. After a short completion to Ebron, the Lions ran Bell right up the middle for 33-yards, but the Card defense then imited Detroit to 8-yards on the next three downs, and they had to settle for a 50-yard Prater FG. Cards 14 - Lions 3.

  • TB on the KO. Stanton hit Fitz on a slant, and #11 rambled for a 22-yard pickup. Cards managed to cross midfield as the quarter ended.

1st Quarter Score: Cards 14 - Lions 3.

2nd Quarter
  • Stanton continued to make it look easy, with Card rookie John Brown turning a short-left pass into a 30-yard completion. But on the next play from scrimmage, he threw his second interception of the afternoon - this one intended for Niklas - picked off by Bynes and returned to the Detroit 22.

  • Stafford drained 5:06 off the clock - operating almost entirely out of the shotgun - moving to the Cardinal 40 in 9 plays but letting a couple of penalties dig them a big hole and forcing them to punt. Punt was downed at the Cardinal 7. Cards managed to move out to their own 30, but a 4-yard loss on a short completion to Ellington created a punting situation. Butler's punt was returned to the Lion 31 with a holding penalty pushing them back to their own 21. After Bell circled left end for +13 on the first play from scrimmage, an offensive pass interference penalty on Ebron derailed their drive and Martin punted from his own 29.

  • Punt was downed at the Card 46. (2-minute warning - "the witching hour"). On the second play from scrimmage, Stanton's pass for Jaron Brown was picked off by Vaughn and returned to the Cardinal 19. Card defense rose to the occasion and (partly due to a contested ball-spot on Ebron's reception which prevented Detroit from picking up a 1st down) forced the Lions to settle for a 28-yard FG. Cardinals 14 - Lions 6.

  • Kickoff was returned to the Cardinal 16. Stanton took a knee. .

First Half Score: Cardinals 14 - Lions 6..

3rd Quarter
  • Lions received. TB on the KO. Lions picked up 36 yards on their first two plays (Second one was a 21-yard run by Bell around right end. (Uh Oh)!. Kelly was injured on the play. On the next play from scrimmage, Okafor sacked Stafford for minus-7 and helped stop Detroit's drive at the Cardinal 40. Punt was fair caught by Ginn at the Cardinal 10, but a 10 holding penalty on the Lions was tacked on. Cards started from their own 20. Completions of 16-yards to Carlson and John Brown for 14-yards moved us to near midfield, but Ellington's 7-yard loss on a run up the middle was instrumental in forcing us to punt from our own 47. Fair catch at the Lion 16.

  • The Lions managed to move to their own 47 but two plays after Foote nailed Ball on a running play for a 3-yard loss, Stafford's pass for Megatron was picked off by Rashad Johnson and returned to the Cardinal 22. A false-start flag on Massie contributed to a 3 & out. Punt was returned by Ross to the Lion 36. Lions were held to 3 & out. Punt was fair caught at the Cardinal 9, with the quarter ending one play later.

Third Quarter Score:Rams 14 - Cards 10.

4th Quarter
  • Card ball; 2nd & 11 at their own 8-yard line. A pretty screen-left to Housler picked up 27-yards. a 24-yard pickup by Ellington on a short pass to the right moved the ball to the Lion 41, but the drive stalled at the Detroit 36. Butler's punt was seemingly batted by a Cardinal to keep it out of the end zone and then picked up in front of the goal-line by Ross and returned 49 yards to midfield. Ruling was challenged by the Cards and reversed. Lion ball at their own 1-yard line. (Oveturning the 49-yard gain was a controversial call which was criticized by Perreria and the FOX announcing crew; however I felt that, once a defensive player touches the football, it should be considered "downed").

  • A 21-yard short pass to Bell kept the Lions' drive alive as did a short pass left to Riddick for 16-yards. But Rucker's sack of Stafford put Detroit ina 3rd & 15 situation and Staffords completion of +13 to Megatron fell two yards short of a first down. Lions went for it on 4th & 2 at the Cardinal 47, but Stafford's pass for Johnson was incomplete.

  • Cardinal ball at their own 47 with 6:45 left to go. Stanton's pass to Carlson was complete for +17. But Arians played it fairly close to his vest and, 4 plays later, the Cards punted from their own 35. Fair caught by Ross at the Lion 11 with 4:34 still left to play. One play after Bell ran around right end and out of bounds for an 11-yard pickup, Powers sacked Stafford for minus-5 yards. Two plays later (on 3rd & 12) the snap to Stafford in a shotgun was aborted. Lions recovered, but with 2:54 on 4th & 12, Caldwell decided to punt it. Ginn returned the punt to the Card 26, but a taunting call on the Lions moved the ball out to the Cardinal 41 with 2:42 left.

  • Lions used up their 2 remaining time-outs as the Cards remained at their own 40 on 3rd & 11. Stanton then hit Fitz with a laser over the middle and barely picked up the first down. 2:00 to go. Three knees. Game over.

Final Score: Cardinals 14 - Lions 14.

Game Stats.

  • Passing Efficiency: Stanton went 21 for 32, 306 yards and 2 TD's. He threw two interceptions. (Stafford threw 30 times, completing 18 for no TD's and gave up 1 interception).

  • Run Game: Cards were held to a total of 46 yards on 26 carries and held Detroit to 98 yards on 19 carries. Ellington gained 42 yards on 19 carries. (Bell picked up 85 yards on 14 carries).

  • Receiving: Smokey Brown led Card receivers with 5 catches for 69 yards, followed by Ellington 4 for 24 and Carlson 3 for 37. Floyd (who gained 54 yards on 2 catches scored 2 TD's).
  • Defense: Lions gained 262 total net yards (98 on the ground and 164 thru the air).

  • Cardinal Run/Pass Ratio: Runs: 26/Passes: 32.

  • Sacks: Stanton wasn't sacked. Cards sacked Stafford 4 times (Okafor 2 and Powers and Rucker 1 each).

  • Leading Cardinal Tacklers: Bucannon 8, Foote 6, R Johnson 6.

  • Field Goals: None attempted by Catanzaro.

  • Turnover Ratio: -1. The two 1H interceptions of Stanton paired with Rashad Johnson's pick of a Stafford pass. No fumbles coughed up by either team.

  • Penalties: Lions were penalized 9 times. Cards were flagged for 4.

  • 3rd Down Efficiency: Cards converted 57.1% (8 for 14). Lions converted 33% (5 of 15).

  • Time of Possession: Us - 30:43/Them: 29:17

Bright Spots

  • Stanton played well enough to win.

  • We beat an elite NFL team.

  • We won our 9th game. Seattle lost. Niners barely won. We own a 3-game lead over both SF and Seattle.

  • Our secondary did a workmanlike job of comtaining Megatron and Tate

  • Smokey continues to deliver.

  • Okafor is emerging as our sack guy.

  • Our defense limited Detroit to (a) zero touchdowns and (b) zero second half points.

  • Once again one more game won; one less game to lose. Two victories away from 11 wins; 4 defeats away from 5 losses.

The Dark Side

  • After a "hot" start, the two Stanton interceptions caused our confidence to wane and our offense to fizzle

  • We gave up one more cheapy just before half-time.

  • We left 3 points on the field in the first half and should have gone into the locker room 17 - 0 or better.

  • Stanton still has some stuff to clean up. How well he can "adjust and fix" will determine how we do by season's end.

  • Another flag on Fanaika.

  • Our receivers are still not winning enough of our share of jump balls.

Last Word:
Megatron...Megatron....Megatron...Megatron...Green Bay! Coming into this game, you'd have thought we were about to face Johnny Unitas and the Colts. So all we do is score twice quickly on "America's best defense", shut down the Megatron and Tate Boys and hold the Lions to no touchdowns and zero 2nd half points and what do we here from the pundits?

Lions? Big deal! "With all due respect to the Cardinals (translation: "With absolutely no respect for the Cardinals"), our new fave rave is the Green Bay Packers."

This is what I know. (1) Drew Stanton, while by no means perfect has a live, accurate arm and is capable of lighting it up occasionally. What we don't know is how well he learns from his mistakes and improves from week to week on the field. He started out a bit short of game-experience. Should each game's worth of additional experience make him a better, more field-wise (& less interception-prone) QB? (2) The Cardinal defense is beginning to consistently play to the level their expected to play. True, their tackling in the open field was a bit hinky Sunday, but, aside from that, everyone did their job and did it solidly and sometimes brilliantly.

Does this mean we're a lock to go 15 & 1? Not likely. But does this mean we're capable of going 15 & 1? Uh...uh...yeah, I think they could actually do it if they continue to focus on the next game and the next game and the next.

I was really worried coming into the Lion game. Despite having to face elite teams like Seattle (twice), St. Louis, San Francisco and Kansas City in 5 of our last 6 games, I don't feel quite as worried now; because I like the way this Cardinal team goes about its business - on game day and between games. Sic 'em!

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Copyright 1996 Gollin & Associates. Last modified: 11/26/2012