The Arizona Cardinals appear ready for the regular season to get underway after their total domination of the Atlanta Falcons
Fans of the Arizona Cardinals had to look closely to find something they didn’t like. The club’s 24-14 victory over Matt Ryan and the Atlanta Falcons left little for Cards’ followers to be concerned about. It’s only the preseason, but it was the manner in which the Champions of the NFC were dominated that was most impressive.
Playing in the new Mercedes-Benz Stadium, one would think that the Falcons would want to christen their new digs with a good performance. Unfortunately for the home team, they ran into a Cardinals’ squad that seemingly had something to prove. After losing to the Chicago Bears the previous week, Arizona’s starters wanted to bounce back, and boy did they ever.
After struggling for most of the summer, the Cards’ running game finally showed up. David Johnson barely played, having been pulled from the game after just a few plays. Chris Johnson bounced back from two fumbles (one lost) to gain 31 yards on six carries ( a 5.2 yards per carry average).
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The passing attack was stellar. Wide receiver John Brown erased some doubts with two pretty touchdown receptions. Quarterback Carson Palmer continued his excellent exhibition season (8-13, 86 yards,1 TD), while Drew Stanton also played well (4-6, 53 yards,1 TD).
The defense was suffocating, frustrating Ryan and the entire Atlanta offense. The Falcon’s signal-caller finished just 4-11, for 36 yards and an interception. It should’ve been two picks but Patrick Peterson failed to come down with a gift thrown his way. Head coach Bruce Arians joked at the postgame press conference that his star cornerback would be fined for the drop!
The Cardinals’ special teams did their part as well. Superb kicker Phil Dawson drilled a 54-yard field goal that probably would’ve been good from a distance of 60. Richie Leone booted punts of 55 and 47 yards, while Matt Wile, the favorite for the job, was able to get off a 49-yarder.
There were a couple of negatives. The offensive line, in particular tackles D.J. Humphries and Jared Veldheer, allowed some early pressure. There were also three Arizona fumbles, one each by Chris Johnson, Elijhaa Penny and Chad Williams.
At the end of the day, the Cards dominated the contest. It was exactly the type of showing the coaching staff would want to see two weeks before the season opener. If Arians’ men are playing like this come September 10th, it’s gonna be a long first game for the Detroit Lions.