The Arizona Cardinals stormed out to an enormous lead on Sunday but then had to hold on for dear life to emerge victorious
The Arizona Cardinals were on fire. They got off to a flying start on Sunday, and it looked like it was going to be a day when nothing could go wrong. And then the second half arrived.
What the Cards quickly found out is that the Tampa Bay Buccaneers weren’t going to go away without a fight. In the end, the Cardinals prevailed 38-33, earning themselves a much-needed home victory. But the Buccaneers’ second-half rally proved that Bruce Arians’ squad has alot of work to do.
Led by a hungry Adrian Peterson, the Cards took a 24-0 lead into the break. The future Hall of Fame running back capped off an impressive opening drive with a 27-yard score, and quarterback Carson Palmer tossed two touchdown passes. Even kicker Phil Dawson got in on the fun, chipping in a 28-yard field goal before the halftime gun was fired.
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Arizona’s defense, inspired by the offense’s performance, fed off the energy as well. Outside linebacker Chandler Jones knocked Tampa Bay quarterback Jameis Winston from the game with a shoulder injury. Bucs’ backup Ryan Fitzpatrick got his club to the Cardinals’ five-yard line late in the second quarter, but a fourth-down pass to Mike Evans was incomplete.
The second half was a different story altogether. After trailing at one point by 31, Evans’ 37-yard touchdown reception with 2:02 to go in the contest got the Buccaneers to within five. It would take an onside-kick recovery by Larry Fitzgerald to finally put an end to the drama.
The final score should not have been that close. It would’ve been one thing if it was the talented Winston leading Tampa Bay’s late charge. But a 34-year old journeyman like Fitzpatrick throwing all over the Cards’ pass defenders was a bit disturbing.
Obviously, the important thing in the end is that Arizona got their record back to. 500. But good NFL clubs keep their foot on the throat of an opponent they are throttling. Fans can only hope that it’s the first-half version of the Cardinals that shows up next Sunday in London.