Through seven games, the Arizona Cardinals’ defense was almost non-existent. But after a much-needed bye, James Bettcher’s unit showed signs of life
With their two best offensive starters (Carson Palmer and David Johnson) out on injured-reserve, the defense needed to show that they can still carry this team. On Sunday, against the win-less 49ers, they showed flashes of what once was a dominating defense.
Facing a dilapidated offensive line and a rookie quarterback, James Bettcher and his defense executed a great game plan. Albeit C.J. Beathard threw for 294 passing yards, he was forced to throw 51 times, completing just 24 passes (47%) on the afternoon. Constantly harassed by an aggressive front, he was hit a total of 16 times and brought down for a sack 5 times as well.
Bettcher continued his aggressive ways, blitzing on 20-of-59 passes (34%), according to Pro Football Focus. Beathard finished the day with zero touchdowns and 1 interception
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When the final whistle blew, the Niners ended up with 63 yards rushing and 329 total yards of offense.
The Arizona defense also did something they hadn’t done all year — recover a fumble. During their first drive, the Niners coughed up the football after safety Tyrann Mathieu stripped it away from Kyle Juszczyk and Patrick Peterson ran it back for 47 yards.
Third-down defense was also much-improved. Coming into the match up, Arizona ranked second-to-last in third-down defense, allowing conversions 47.7% of the time. Seldom did you see the opposing punter. Sunday was much-improved. The Cardinals only allowed the Niners to convert 6-of-17 on third down attempts (35%). The 49ers were also 0-for-2 on 4th down.
Dansby’s day in the record books
In now his 14th season in the NFL, and his third tour with the Cardinals, veteran inside linebacker Karlos Dansby made history in the 4th quarter Sunday as he recorded his 20th interception of his career.
He is now only the 5th player in NFL history to have 40 sacks and 20 interceptions. The other players on that list: Ray Lewis, Seth Joyner, Wilbur Marshall and Brian Urlacher. Quite the company to be alongside with.
Over his career, Dansby has also amassed 20 forced fumbles, 6 defensive touchdowns and 1033 total tackles.
With numbers like that, a place in Canton is surely inevitable.