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The Setup
Both teams were coming off depressing losses - Washington lost to Seattle 27 -17. Cards were dismantled by the Broncs 41 - 20. Washington at 1 & 4 faced a daunting challenge, but the Cards could be without their injured starting and backup QB's (Palmer and Stanton) and would be without defensive line standouts Calais Campbell and Ed Shaughessy. Washington had one less day of prep time since they played on MNF. A small number of Washington players were called out for "not taking the loss to Seattle seriously enough." A morale-boosting Cardinal game-time decision was that Carson Palmer was "good to start."

The Lede
Palmer and Turnovers Key to Cards "W" Over Washington.

The Bottom Line:
Carson Palmer (whose right arm nerve evidentally "woke up" just in time) was the surprise starter and, although the zip in his passes seemed to dissipate a bit as the game wore on, he provided just enough in the way of accuracy and field-smarts to lead the Cards to a 30 - 20 win.

The Cards held onto a one-point first half lead, with the defense, in the 4th quarter, recovering one fumble and picking off three interceptions to preserve the win. Larry Fitzgerald rebounded to have one of his signature days, catching 6 passes for 98 yards, and a spectacular 24-yard TD catch and run where he dragged a defender for the final 5 yards for the score. Catanzaro was 3 for 3 to extend his season-perfect FG percentage.

There were plenty of 4th quarter nail-biting heroics, with Washington coming back to narrow its deficit to just 3 points with just 2:16 to play, only to turn the ball over for the fourth time on a Rashad Johnson "pick six" with just 0:18 left on the clock. The win over Washington was made all the more sweet upon hearing that Seattle lost to Dallas at home.

Game Recap

1st Quarter
  • Cards received. TB on the KO. Three of the first four plays were passes to Carlson (who got mugged on an incompletion over the middle). Roberts returned Butler's punt to the Wash 26. They made it out to their own 48 in five plays before Way's punt was fair caught by Ginn at the Cardinal 11. An 18-yard run around RE by Ellington (who evidentally acquired a knack for bringing it up the middle - to draw in the LB;s - and then outrunning defenders to the outside) got the Cards to midfield where their drive fizzled. Butlers punt was fair caught at the Wash 17. Cards held them to 3 & out. Ginn's 14-yard punt return gave the Cards good field position at the Wash 41. On the sixth play of the possession, Floyd got the inside edge in the end zone on a slant route to hook up with Palmer for a 20-yard TD. Cards 7 - Washington 0.

  • KO returned to the Wash 18. A couple of penalties helped sustain a 7-yard Wash drive into the next quarter. 1st Quarter Score: Cards 7 - Washington 0.

2nd Quarter
  • One play after Okafor sacked Cousins for minus-7, Washington took advantage of Arizona's four-across/jail-break defensive scheme, and Cousins hit Desean Jackson on a slant up the middle and the Washington speedster did the rest, outrunning his defender en route to a 64-yard TD. Cardinals 7 - Washington 7.

  • TB on the KO. Three & Outsvlle. Butler's punt was fair caught at the Washington 20. A 42-yard completion to Desean Jackson moved Wash to the Cardinal 10, where their drive stalled and Forbath was good from 28-yards. Washington 10 - Cardinals 7.

  • TB on the KO. 8:20 still left. A holding call on Larsen nullified a 19-yard completion to Fitz. and (along with a delay of game flag on Palmer) forced the Cards to punt from their opwn 38. Fair catch and holding call gave Wash the ball on their own 7-yard line with 5:48 left till halftime. Wash managed to move to their own 31 where Ginn's 29-yard punt return was nullifled by an "illegal block below the waist" penalty. Cards started out at their own 15 and managed to drive to the Wash 24 in 7 plays. On the 8th play of the series, Palmer hit Fitz short-left and the Cardinal receiving star weaved his way to the five yard before carrying a defender on his back the final 5 yards for a score. Cards 14 -Washington 10.

  • TB on the KO. Wash had one more shot at scoring with 0:31 on the clock. Helu ran for +8, Cousins hit Helu for+33 and then Morris for +14 to set up a 43-yard FG with 0:02 left. Cards 14 - Washington 13

First Half Score: Cards 14 - Washington 13

3rd Quarter
  • Wash received. TB on the KO. Cousins pecked his way to his own 41 where Way's punt was downed at the Card 16. Palmer then engineered a penalty-riddled 14 play (7:23) drive capped by a Catanzaro 33-yarder. Key plays were completions of +22 and +18 to Fitz. Cardinals 17 - Washington 13.

  • TB on the KO. We held Wash to a 3 & out. Ginn's 9-yard return gave us the ball on our own 30.Completions to Housler (+15) and Hughes (+9) moved us to the Wash 47 as the quarter ended. We've got a 4-point lead heading into the 4Q.

    Third Quarter Score: Cardinals 17 - Washington 13.

4th Quarter
  • Meriweather blew up the Cardinal drive at the Wash 40 when he nailed Ellington for minus-5. On the 8th play of the series, Catanzaro's 49-yard attempt was good. Cardinals 20 - Washington 13.

  • TB on the KO. On the first play from scrimmage, Cousins hit Roberts for +14, but Powers and Johsnon stripped away the ball and Mathieu recovered it. Cards ball at the Wash 27. Cards were unable to move the ball past the Wash 17 and Catanzaro's 37-yard attempt was good. We're up by 10 points! Cardinals 23 - Washington 13.

  • 10:27 still left to play. TB on the KO. The refs helped Cousins overcome a minus-9 yard sack by Okafor when he called a 16-yard interference penalty on Cro. A 17-yard completion to Roberts put the ball on the Cardinal 47, but on the next play, Cousin's pass deep over the middle to Roberts was picked off by Rashad Johnson. Cards took over on the Wash 46. 7 plays later, Butler punted from the Wash 35. It was downed by Leach at the Wsh 11.

  • A neutral zone infraction on Foote and a pass interference by Petersonalong with three straight completions of +9 +14 and +7 yards moved Wash to the Cardinal 42. But the "Turnover Bunny" struck once again when Powers jumped in front of Jackson to intercept the ball and run it back to the Cardinal 46. Situation: We're up by 10 with just 4:07 left to play.

  • Washington started using up its time outs. On the third play of the Cardinal possession, Palmer fumbled (& recovered) an aborted snap and was sackedfor minus-7 yards. Butler's punt was fair caught at the Wash 36 with 3:43 left to play.Three striaght completions to Roberts (+22) and Reed (+20 amd +17) set up a 5-yard TD completion to Garcon. (Uh Oh! It's a 3-point game with 2:17 to go) Cardinals 23 - Washington 20.

  • Onside kick was recovered by Acho. Palmer sucked all but 0:29 off the clock, but we finally had to punt. It was downed at the Wash 14. On the next play, Cousins' pass intended for Garcon was intercepted by R Johnson and returned 28 yards for a Cardinal TD. After the kickoff, Wash ran off one play (a 16-yard run by Helu) before time ran out.

Final Score: Cardinals 30 - Washington 20.

Game Stats
While basic meat & potatos stats are the core of what usually influences football games, turnovers and long plays have a way of rendering those stats close to marginal. In this game, four Washington 4th quarter turnovers and two long completions to Desean Jackson were instrumental in flipping the game - the former in the direction of the Cardinals; the latter in Washington's favor. Another stat worth focusing on was the number of penalties inflicted on the Cardinals (14 - compared to 6 for Wash).

  • Passing Efficiency: Palmer was a very efficient 28 for 44, 250 yards, 2 TD's and no interceptions.

  • Run Game: Cards ran the ball 23 times for 74 yards. Ellington carried 19 times for 67 yards.

  • Receiving: Fitz led all Cardinal receivers with 6 catches for 98 yards and and a TD. Ellington was tied for 1st with 6 grabs for 26 yards, followed by John Brown, Carlson and Floyd with 4 catches apiece.
  • Defense: Washington ran 17 times for 72 yards and wound up with 354 passing yards. 2 TD and 3 interceptions.

  • Cardinal Run/Pass Ratio: 23 runs/44 passes.

  • Sacks: Palmer was sacked 1 time. (We got to Cousins twice).

  • Leading Cardinal Tacklers: R Johnson led the team with 8 tackles, followed by Bucannon (5) and Acho, Foote, Mathieu, Okafor and Powers with 4 apeice

  • Field Goals: Catanzaro's (3 for 3) perfect record is intact..

  • Turnover Ratio: +4. Twp pcks by R Johnson, 1 pick by Powers and a fumble recovery by either Powers or Johnson

  • Penalties: 14 for 108 yards (Washington was flagged just 6 times for 62).

  • 3rd Down Efficiency: 7 for 17 (41%). Wash was just 2 for 10 (20%)

  • Time of Possession: Us - 34:19/Them - 25:41

Bright Spots

  • Palmer returned

  • No giveaways

  • Fitz's role was expanded. His TD catch & run was a thing of beauty.

  • Floyd's TD catch.

  • R Johnson redeemed himself for a streak of sloppy tackling, by picking off 2 passes (& possibly being in on the one fumble).

  • Okafor (with two sacks) may be emerging as our new edge-rush guy. His Longhorn "partner in crime" (Acho) appears to be a steadying influence out there when a fumble has to be recovered or a TD-saving tackle needs to be made.

  • The Badger seems to be gradually working his way back into the scheme of things.

  • Foote plays younger than his years.

  • Catanzaro (3 for 3) continues to be perfecto.

  • QB depth crisis seems to be easing. Stanton cleared concussion regimen and could have played if he had to.

The Dark Side

  • We miss Calais' and Shaughnessy's length on kick blocking duty.

  • Carson appeared to wear down in the 2H. (1) Hope is arm is OK. (2) Hope he'll regain arm-strength as he plays more.

  • Too many freakin' penalties.

  • We had trouble picking up first (1 - 2 yard) first downs.

  • Our newer and younger LB's need to get better at covering RB's and TE's on flat passes and bubble screens.

  • One on one tackling wasn't its usual "money in the bank" self.

  • OL pass and run blocking execution problems, though not fatal, needs to be remedied.

Last Word:
This game was "ours to lose" and we didn't. That's a big deal. We come out of the Washington win 4 & 1 (instead of 3 & 2), with our QB's (relatively healthy). We've got a non-contender in Oakland up next. Seattle lost its second game on the road. Reason to feel good about ourselves but also, of course, a potential "trap." Time to bring out all the cliches (i.e. "stay humble"; "one game at a time"; "don't read the clippings"). But, hey! Cliches wouldn't be cliches if they weren't true. Next week, it's on to the "Land of the Halloween Costumes." Beat those Raidiz!
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Copyright 1996 Gollin & Associates. Last modified: 11/26/2012