Sep 15, 2013; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Arizona Cardinals defensive tackle Calais Campbell (93) holds up the ball after recovering the fumbled ball in the third quarter against the Detroit Lions at University of Phoenix Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jennifer Hilderbrand-USA TODAY Sports
Hey, no one said it was going to be easy. When it comes to the Arizona Cardinals, I’m not sure there is such a word. Whatever the case, the Detroit Lions had the lead most of the day and only trailed 3-0 and late in the fourth quarter 25-21. That score was the final and the Cards gave head coach Bruce Arians his first win in Arizona.
The Cards had a hard time finding the end zone during the middle of the game. They got one in the second on a nice 36-yard pass to running back Andre Ellington and one with under two minutes to go for running back Rashard Mendenhall, who carried 15 times for 66 yards, to give the Cards the lead for good.
For awhile it looked as if Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford and receiver Calvin Johnson would run all over the Cards. Stafford threw two second quarter scores to Johnson, who had six receptions for 116 yards. However in the second half, both went missing in action. Stafford didn’t even complete a pass in the third quarter. The Cards defense had stiffened up.
The Cards defense was able to create three-and-outs on consecutive drives and even came up with a fumble deep in the Lions territory. Cornerback Justin Bethel also blocked a David Akers field goal. Speaking of Akers, he had a bad day. He missed a first quarter field goal wide left. Bethel was called for a running into the kicker and Akers was able to try again from five yards closer. He missed wide right. It was that kind of day for the Lions.
Injuries played a big part of the game too. Lions quarterback Reggie Bush was in the midst of having another good day when he hurt his knee in the second quarter. He returned briefly in the second half but was a non-factor. Bush had three carries for a whopping 44 yards. He was running well. For the Cards, receiver Larry Fitzgerald, who missed most of practice this week, did play, however he, like Bush, was only a mainly first-half participant. He only had two receptions for 33 yards.
Quarterback Carson Palmer had a decent day. He did throw the one boneheaded pass that resulted in a 66-yard interception return for the Liuons’ Deandre Levy. It was the only second-half score for the Lions. For his part though, Palmer went 22-39, 248 yards with one interception and one touchdown.
The story of the day would not complete though without talking about Ellington, Mendenhall, and receiver Kerry Taylor. Ellington had his touchdown catch and caught the ball twice for 42 yards. He also ran for 20 yards. Taylor, just signed off of the practice squad this week, had three impressive receptions for 40 yards.
Now the Cards are 1-1 and head to face the New Orleans Saints next week in New Orelans. No doubt a huge test for the Cards. It is much better heading to Louisiana with a win though. For now, we enjoy the victory, no matter how tough it was and no matter how it was achieved.