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The Setup
Cards lost their first game a week ago. (getting manhandled by the Rams in a deceptively close game). Lions were 0 & 4; having lost to San Diego, Minnesota, Denver and the Seahawks. Last week, both teams got hosed by the refs, but moreso the Lions (on MNF no less). Lions had one less day between games to repair and lick their wounds. They could either (1) come out like caged animals on their home field next week or (2) start to break apart. Cards know they're in a tough division and that any loss could be enough to push them out of the playoffs. Meaningless stat - Detroit hasn't played anyone in the NFC North yet. On top of all that - TE Ebron and DT's Walker and Ngata were ruled "Out" for Sunday. Levy was to play for the first time this season.

The Lede
Cardinals bounce back/roll over Lions 42 - 17.

The Bottom Line:
Cards started out "flat" (i.e. couldn't score, couldn't run, couldn't protect Palmer, couldn't cover Calvin Johnson) and fell behind 7 - 0 by the end of the 4Q. Then things took an abrupt turn of direction, the Cardinal turnover machine went int high gear and the Cards kept widening a lead substantiall enough for the Cards to rest Carson Palmer and the Lions to bench Matthew Stafford.

To make the day even sweeter - Seattle lost. The Rams lost. The Niners lost. Cards are 2 games ahead of their closest division rival.

(Note: DirecTV "did it again" - this time prematurely posting a "Thanks for Watching" message on the screen toward the end of the 2nd quarter. Fortunately, we only lost signal for about 5 minutes and wound up receiving a discount from customer suppoty on our monthly Sunday Ticket bill).

Game Recap

1st Quarter
  • Lions received.TB on the KO. Cards were offsides (Gunter) on the first play from scrimmage. Three plays later, Rashad Johnson picked off a Stafford pass intended for Wright. But Cards went 3 & out. Punt holding call gave the Lions the ball on their own 7. Their first five plays were for positive yardage (+5, +8, +9, +9, 4). An+1-yard completion to C Johnson put the Lions on the Cardinal 42, but Abdullah was hit by Jefferson and his fumble was recovered by Mauro. Cards ball on their own 39. But the Cards then went 3 & out - with Palmer sacked twice. Punt net another penalty gave Lions the ball on their own 18. A 48-yard completion to Fuller set up a 6-yard TD pass to Riddick. Lions 7 - Cards 0.

    D Johnson returned the KO to the Card 29. A 25-yard run by C Johnson with a face-mask call tacked on put the ball on the Lion 31. Cards moved to the Detroit 14 as the quarter ended.

1st Quarter Score: Lions 7 - Cards 0.

2nd Quarter
  • On the first play of the quarter, Plamer hit Fells for an 18-yard score. Lions 7 - Cards 7.

    TB on the KO. After an incompletion, the Lions continued to move the ball methodically (+8. + 4, +9) but the Card defense began to adjust. Lions managed to reach their own 42, but Staffords outlet pass for Abdullah was batted and intercepted by Corey Redding who rumbled and stumbled to the Lion 4 before being tackled by the freakin' Lion QB!!!! (No doubt Corey will take a lot of ribbing for that). On the next play, D Johnson went through the middle of the Lion line like a knife thru butter. Cards 14 - Lions 7.

  • Cards (Golden) recovered a fumble on the KO but the officials ruled that the ball was touched by a Cardinal player whose foot was already out of bounds. (Jobbed again!) Lion ball on their own 33. A 12-yard sack by Bethel was negated by a holding flag on Peterson during a 10-play Lions drive that ended with a punt from the Cardinal 43. Ball was downed at the Cardinal one-yard line. (5:36 left till halftime). With the Cards still on their one-yard line, Palmer hit John Brown deep for 49-yards (we consider this to be the turning point of the game). Two plays later, Chris Johnson motored through the Lion defense for 40-yards. On the next play, David Johnson scored his 2nd TD of the day from 2-yards out. Cardinals 21 - Lions 7.

    TB on the KO. 3:11 left on the clock. On the 4th play from scrimmage, Stafford's pass for Tate was picked off by R Johnson and returned to the Lion 22. On the third play of the possession, Palmer hit John Brown on a shallow crossing route for an 18-yard TD. Cards 28 - Lions 7.

    2:08 till halftime (i.e. "the Witching Hour"). Sure enough, Jones shredded the Cardinal KO coverage unit for 62-yards, but a holding penalty on the Lions ended the jinx & put the ball on the Lion 20. The Lions managed to pick up one first down but were forced to punt from their own 44. Peterson returned it up the left sideline to the Cardinal 16. Palmer took a knee.

First Half Score: Cards 28 - Lions 7.

3rd Quarter
  • Cards received. TB on the KO. A false start flag on Cooper helped the Cards go 3 & out. Punt was returned to the Lion 38. On the first play from scrimmage, Stafford was sacked by Powers. Five plays later, his deep pass for Calvin Johnson was intercepted by Peterson and returned to the Detroit 32. Six plays later, Palmer hit Fitz for a 36-yard TD. (Ba-Bam!). Cards 35 - Lions 7.

    (That was pretty much the football game - Stafford was benched in favor of Orlovsky). TB on the KO. Orlovsky was able to lead his offense on a 10-play drive, but the Lions ran out of steam - 4th & 21 - at the Cardinal 39. Punt was fair caught at the Card 13. Cards reached their 22 in two plays to end the quarter

Third Quarter Score: Cards 35 - Lions 7.

4th Quarter
  • Butler punted from his own 22. Holding call on the punt moved the Lions back to their own 18. Completions of +13, +11, +22 and +14 helped Detroit move to the Cardinal 22, where the drive stalled and they settled for a 40-yard Prater FG. . Cards 35 - Lions 10.

  • 11:51 left. TB on the KO. Stanton in for Palmer. On the third play from scrimmage, Ellington turned a simple run off left tackle into a 63-yard home run, Cards 42 - Lions 10.

    KO was returned to the Detroit 34. On the fourth play from scrimmage, Orlovsky's deep pass for T Jones was intercepted by Rashad Johnson (his second of the game) and returned to the Cardinal 42. After an initial first down, the Cards went three & out and punted from the Lion 43. It was fair caught at the Lion 12. The two teams exchanged 3 & outs. Orlovsky then engineered a 15 play (3:50) drive capped by a short pass to Moore for a 13-yard TD. (It seemed to me that the Lions were attempting to exploit matchup advantages with Powers during most of the 4Q). Cards 42 - Lions 17.

    1:29 left. TB on the KO. Three knees. Game over.

Final Score: Cards 42 - Lions 7

Game Stats.
(Caution - The abundance of turnovers tend to distort many of the following statistics and make them meaningless or misleading).

  • Passing: Palmer was 11 for 14 (161 yards, 3 TD's and 0 pick). Cards held Lion QB/s to 41 for 70 (379 yards, 2 TD's and 4 picks.

    Takeaways: Cards +6. Lion QB's were picked off 4 times; Palmer none. Lions coughed up 2 fumbles/Cards zero.

  • Rushing: Chris Johnson carried 11times for 103 yards and 0 TD's. Ellington carried 3 times for 63 yards and a TD. David Johnson gained 6 yards on 3 carries and 2 TD's. (Cards held Lion rushers to 57-yards on 18 carries).
  • Receiving: Fitz again led the receivers with 9 catches for 134 yards and 2 TD's. John Brown caught 3 passes for 62 yards.

  • Cardinal Run/Pass Ratio: . (Runs: 37 /Pass: 32). Niner Run/Pass Ratio: 19/32).

    Card ball carriers averaged 7.5 yards on the ground. (Run defense gave up 3.2 ypc.)

  • Bucannon, Jefferson and Powers led the team with 11 tackle apiece, followed by Minter with 9.

  • Powers was credited with the only Cardinal sack. (Palmer was sacked twice).

    The Pick Boys: R Johnson (2), Redding, Peterson

    Situational Efficiency: Cards converted 1 of 8 third downs (12%). Lions were 8 of 17 (47%). Cards were 5 of 5 in the Red Zone (100%). Lions were 2 of 2 for 100%)

    Penalties: Lions were penalized 9 times for 85 yards (Cards were penalized 9 times for 70 yds).

    Time of Possession: Cards 23:28 - Lions 36:32

Bright Spots

  • We won on the road.

    Palmer led all NFL QB's thus far this week.

    Fitz continues to look good. Don't let his numbers fool you (Cards only threw 18 times).

    That deep Palmer to John Brown throw from the one-yard line was a game-turner.

    No major injuries (we're aware of).

  • While our TE's (Gresham and Fells) aren't doing anything spectacular, they're quietly establishing themselves as a solid, consistent force that can be counted on.

  • Cards got their hands up more consistently on defense - and it paid off.

    Cardinal secondary stepped up their aggressiveness and confidence - and it too paid off. .

    Run D held the Lions to 57 ground yards..

    6 takeaways is pretty freaking impressive (Kudos to Rashad for his double).

  • It took 3 plays for Ellington to shake off the rust and he did so big time.

    We liked the way David Johnson was able to punch the ball across the goal line twice from inside the 10.

    No mental letdowns right before halftime this week.

    Corey Redding (one step away from breakaway status).

The Dark Side

  • Was it just me? Or did it look as though the Cards started off playing a lot of loose zone - allowing Calvin Johnson to run free & uncovered by the Lion secondary. (When we started to play tighter man-coverage, we were better able to keep the Lion passing attack under control).

    Similarly, it seemed to me that, in the third and fourth quarters, the Lions were turning Powers into their person pinada - every pass that Orlovsky threw seemed to be at #25's man (& too many of them were completed).

    This wasn't much of a week for Cardinal sacks.

  • 9 penalties is too many.

    The two sacks by the Lions on one series of downs early in the game was downright scary (1) because it looked like it was the beginning of a pattern and (2) fans, coaches, teammates and player have a vested interest in Carson Palmer's health.

Last Word:
We won on the road. We're 4 & 1 (2 ahead of our nearest division rival). But there's still 11 games left to play. I think we can safely say that, talent-wise and performance-wise, the Cardinals are a Top 10 (maybe even a Top 5) NFL team. But the loss to the Rams proves that - if we don't bring our "A" game or lucky rabbit's foot lor don't suck up enough to the refs, we are capable of losing to anybody. The move by Cardinal management to have the team spend the week at the prestigious Green Briar was a class thing to do. It behooves each Cardinal player to prove to the owner, coaches and staff next week in Pittsburgh that, when you treat them right, it will pay off in W's. the Got to continue pressing the pedal to the floorboard. Onward!

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