Rapid Reaction to Arizona Cardinals Week 11 Win
By Erich Becker
Phantom Call or Not, this game was an absolute statement
The Arizona Cardinals came into this game as the number one scoring offense against the number one scoring defense in the Cincinnati Bengals (allowing the fewest points). In fact, even when the Bengals lost on Monday Night to the Texans, they only allowed 10 points in a 10-6 “shootout”. The last three games, the Bengals only allowed ten points in EACH of those games. The Cardinals put up 34 on them.
The run game was there at times, and looked very slick in the third quarter, the defense held Cincy to -1 yards in three drives, and the offense put up three TDs to jump out to a 28 to 14 lead (that wouldn’t be held). In-game injuries didn’t help with Patrick Peterson being ruled out late and Justin Bethel being forced into the starting line-up, but he played admirably again, although not perfect. That pass to A.J. Green, which was luckily incomplete, was a big opportunity for a game sealing pick, but it wasn’t to be.
The Bengals are a tough team and they showed it, but their injuries also started to manifest at the worst times. During the third quarter the Cardinals, typically a little sluggish, shined, but he fourth quarter, typically when the team goes into lights-out mode, it wasn’t a crisp or clean allowing the Bengals to drive down the field and tie the game.
One thing that stands out more than anything is the guts by Bruce Arians. Once again, he showed what he’s like as a signal caller. In the second quarter at 9:52 to go, with a 3rd-and-1 from the Cincinnati 18, Arians called a 18 yard pass to Darren Fells, out jumping defenders in the corner of the end zone.
All you need is a yard, everyone expects a run, and you go for the home run. In this case, it was probably better to not go on the ground as, late in the fourth, when the Cardinals needed a yard, they couldn’t pick it up.
November 22, 2015; Glendale, AZ, USA; Arizona Cardinals tight end Darren Fells (85) catches a touchdown against Cincinnati Bengals cornerback Shawn Williams (36) during the first quarter at University of Phoenix Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports
Penalties killed the defense, not being able to get off the field lead to points. They need to play smarter.
The final drive is a showcase of why Carson Palmer needs to be in the MVP conversation along with Tom Brady or Cam Newton. Just over a year removed from an ACL repair, Palmer leads the league in TDs (just three a head of Tom Brady who plays tonight), the Cardinals now rank as the number one offense in the league in scoring. The team is on pace to shatter records set during the Kurt Warner days when we, as fans, all thought it couldn’t get any better than the Warner-Fitz-Boldin-Roberts-Breston days. Wow, were we wrong.
The team has shown poise in the last two weeks, and that’s something I’m glad everyone got to see on national TV. The Arizona Cardinals of ten years ago would have squandered the lead, like they did, but pack it up and go home, and move on to an easier opponent like San Francisco and take pride in that. This team went for the win. They got it.
Finally, a lot will be said about the call at the end of the game, there’s two things to think about in reference to this, how can Peko truly think we’ll believe he was calling for a run on a team, well within Field Goal range, with no time outs, and six seconds on the clock, they’re going to run the ball?
Two, the three passes that the Cincinnati defense gave up (one to J.J. Nelson and two to Larry Fitzgerald) hurt you more than the penalty. At times it looked like both defenses were allowing the QBs to pay catch with their receivers. It bit the Cardinals earlier in the game as well.
The Bengals were certainly sore losers in all of this, Marvin Lewis said it wasn’t that loud, he hardly noticed, and to his credit, his team did not false start the entire game (leaving the count at 132 at University of Phoenix Stadium), but costly penalties hurt them more than anything.
The team sits now at 8-2 and three games ahead in the West with six to play with Seattle winning and St. Louis and San Francisco losing.