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"Identity game" for both teams. Both entered last week 1 & 3. But, while the Jets dug themselves a deeper hole after losing to the Steelers, the Cards took care of business with an impressive 33 - 21 Thurs. night road win over the Niners to go 2 & 3. With another victory, the Cards would claw their way back to .500. Should the Jets beat the Cardinals, they'd still only be 2 & 4..
Cards Cool Jets 28 - 3
The Bottom Line:
Cards finally scored a 1Q touchdown to got off their pointless 1Q schneid and gradually expanded their early lead until everyone looked up and realized the game was over - an impressive 28 - 3 win.
What I liked most was that the Cards - the more talented team "on paper" - lived up to that expectation and took care of business. While they didn't play 100% flawless football (the offense all too often sputtered at or around midfield), the Cards avoided most mistakes and played solidlly enough to let their overall talent-advantage prevail. On offense, those players grabbing our attention were RB David Johnson, the two "W" guards (Wetzel and Watford) and Smokey Brown. With the exceptions, perhaps, of the Honey Badger, Swearinger and Marcus Golden, the defense made few highlight-reel plays, but they played solid football and generally kept the Jets from putting together anything serious.
To paraphrase a quote from a former Cardinal head coach: "We were who I thought they were." Nice "W."
Cards ended this season's pattern of failing to score in the 1Q. We scored first and expanded that 7- 0 first quarter lead throughout the game - leading 14 - 3 at halftime, 21 - 3 at the end of the 3rd quarter and winning by a score of 28 - 3.This was pretty much a game of " fundamentals" on our side of the ball - sound blocking and tackling, no major mistakes, not a lot of gaudy statistics (other than D Johnson's yardage/TD's). Just generally a well-played game.
Cards won the toss and received. TB on KO. Cards picked up a quick 1st down, but Palmer botched a snap (what's with that?) & four plays later, the Cards punted from their own 44. Punt was downed at the Jets 9. Cards held Jets to 3 & out. Fair catch (net flag on B Golden) gave Cards the ball on their own 42-yard line.
On the first play from scrimmage, D Johnson bobbed and weaved his way around his blockers and broke away down the left sideline for a 58-yard TD. Cardinal 1Q scoring drought was over. Cards 7 - Jets 0.
TB on the KO. Jets (hampered by two consecutive false-start penalties (props to our "loud crowd") managed to reach their own 33 before punting. Punt returned by Jo Brown to the Cardinal 24. Three defensive holding panalties in a row helped move the ball across midfield, but the Cards failed to capitalize on those Jets mistakes. Punt fair caught at the Jets 12 (We still have them boxed up). Cards held Jets to 3 & out. John Brown lost 3-yards on the return. Cards' ball on their own 32. Cards held to 3 & out. Punt fair caught at the Jets 21. Quarter over one play later withJets' ball on their own 23.
1st Quarter Score: Cardinals 7 - Jets 0.
A pass interference call on Peterson helped sustain the Jets' possession with the Jets moving to the Cards' 18, but a an offensive holding call effectively killed the drive and they had to settle for a 39-yard Folk FG to tighten up the score. Cardinals 7 - Jets 3.
TB on the KO. Palmer put together 11 plays, featuring the talents of JJ Nelson (who picked up +11, +14 and +5 yards to reach the Jets 44. A +19 yard defensive PI penalty put the ball on the Jets 25, and five plays later, D Johnson scooted up the middle for a 2-yard score. Cardinals 14 - Jets 3.
TB on the KO. The two teams swapped 3 & outs, and the Cards held the Jets to 3 & out one more time. Punt was fair caught - Bethel was flagged for holding. Cards pushed back to their own 10 with 2:41 till the half. It looked as if a +14 yd completion to Greshman would sustain the Cardinal drive but drive stalled at the Card 38. Punt fair caught at the Jets 20 with 1:23 on the clock.
Peterson was torched for +23 yds by Marshall and Fitzpatrick hit Peake for +11 to put the ball on the Cards 49. An apparent sack/ forced fumble by Nkemdiche (for minus-2 yds) was reversed by the officials (who ruled it to be an incomplete pass). Drive stalled. Punt downed at the Card 7. Half over.
First Half Score: Cardinals 14 - Jets 3.
Jets received. TB on the KO. 3 & out. Punt returned to Card 32. Palmer then stitched together a 14-play (7:37) drive capped by a 2-yard TD run up the middle by D Johnson. Key plays: 14-yard def pass interference flag, D Johnson +14 yard run negated by blocking infraction by Floyd, +13 yd completion to Floyd and a bunch of +3 - +8 yard dinks and dunks to set up the D Johnson 2-yd TD run. Cardinals 21 - Jets 3.
TB on the KO. Fitzpatrick put together a downright scary 11-play drive that ended at the Cardinal 14, when Swearinger picked off a Fitzpatrick pass intended for Brandon Marshall. Card ball on their own 11. One play later, quarter ended..
Third Quarter Score: Cardinals 21 - Jets 3.
BA and Palmer kept the pedal down all the way to the floor, with the Cardinal QB engineering a 14-play (7:26) drive ending with a TD pass to Floyd on a 90-yard fade-pattern to the left corner of the end zone. (That pretty much iced the cake, but - even with only 8:27 left to play - I was still a bit nervous. Jets replaced Fitzpatrick with Geno Smith, and everyone knows how the Cards have had problems containing opposing backup QB's). Cardinals 28 - Jets 3.
TB on KO. Smith managed to bring the Jets to the Cardinal 39, but was then sacked for minus-10 by Okafor (fumble recovered by Jets). On the next play (on a 3rd & 3) Smith's pass for Peake was picked off by the Honey Badger who stepped out of bounds at the Card 47.
4:20 left. Stanton in for Palmer. BA kept it on the ground, and the clock ran out with a Stanton knee at theJets 23 to end the contest.
Final Score: Cardinals 28 - Jets 3
Notable Game Stats.
Passing: Palmer was 23 for 34, 213 yards 1 TD and 0 Interceptions. (Fitzpatrick was 16 for 31, 174 yds, 0 TD's and 1 picks). Smith also picked off one time (by Mathieu)
Rushing: D Johnson gained 111 yards on 22 carries & 3 TD's.. (Jets held to 33 yards on ground. Forte picked up 19 yds on 9 carries.
Receiving: Fitz led with 6 grabs (49). John Brown caught 5 for 54 yards. Jaron Brown had 3 catches. (Peake caught 5 for 43 yds. B Marshall held to 3 grabs for 70 yds).
Turnovers: Plus-2. Cards lost no fumbles or picks. (Jets gave away 2 picks/no fumbles).
Penalties: (You could argue that it was a Mickey Mouse officiated game). Cards9/Jets 10
Run/Pass Ratio: Cards: 35/35. (NYJ: 14/37)
Kicking: Catanzaro was 4 for 4 on XP's. (Folk was 1 for 1).
Net Punting Yards: Quigley averaged 40.0. (NYJ punter averaged 41.6)
Tackles: Pretty much spread around: Mathieu led the Cards with 6 tackles followed by Bucannon (5), Simon (4) and Swearinger (4).
Sacks: Cards sacked Jet QB's one time (Okafor).
Interceptions: Palmer wasn't picked off. (Fitzpatrick and Smith were each picked off once. Swearinger and Mathieu credited with the 2 Card interceptions.
Third Down Efficiency: Cards wer 6 of 11 for 54%. (NYJ were 2 of 13 for 15%).
Red Zone Efficiency: Cards were 3 of 3 - 100%. (Jets were 0 of 2 for 0%).
Time of Possession: Cards 36:02/ Jets 23:58
Card rush defense gave up a 2.4 yds per rushing play (Card rushers averaged 4.9)
Palmer - Zero Interceptions.No fumbles.
Smokey Brown/JJ Nelson - When needed they delivered on a consistent basis (This hasn't always been the case earlier in the season).
I keep thinking David Johnson is overhyped, and then he comes out each week and proves me wrong.
We posted a 171rushing yards-burger against a vaunted NYJ run-defense that was giving up an average of 68 yards per game.
Backups Wetzel and Watford repeated their production vs. the Niners. For the Cards to be effective, they had to do three things: (1) no penalties or blown assignments, (2) protect Palmer and (3) open holes for D Johnson. They more than delivered.
Although C Jones and Golden weren't credited with sacks, they were always around to put pressure on Fitzpatrick and were a steady presence on the flanks to keep Jet QB's contained.
Consistently sure open-field tackling by the Cardinal secondary.
Unsung hero - Chandler Jones (No sacks, but he helped cause a bunch).
Is the Badger "back?"
The two 14-play second half drives to put away the game.
The Dark Side
Every once in a while, Palmer will throw a wounded duck.
Carson's leg - will it be OK?
Running plays involving handoffs deep in the backfield frequently get blown up
Were those (Cardinal) penalties for real? Or did we simply draw funky officials?
PP21's numbers continue to be off the chart, but at least once or twice a game, he'll trip, dive or lunge in coverage & find himself lying on the field while his man speeds away downfield.
A nitpick: Can our blitzers play less out-of-control and still maintain their explosion and intensity? Several times, Fitzpatrick was able to escape (often by a hair) and throw "side-arm" to an open receiver.
The Jets game is not one of those games where, afterward, we have to caution the players "not to become complacent." We're back to .500, but face a key game Sunday vs. arguably our toughest division opponent.
The bad news is that Seattle is rough and tough (& - when you factor in that weird last-minute batted interception vs. Atlanta last Sunday - lucky). The good news (for us) is that Seattle doesn't seem quite as good as they've been in previous years. (i.e. play 'em right, and we can beat those suckers).
My suggestion: Use this Jets win as a "template" for the way we should play every week and then figure out the few other things we need to do to put us over the top.
Sunday in Seattle. Yuge game. Focus.