For the first 12 weeks of the 2023 campaign, Jonathan Gannon had been waiting for a flawless performance out of his Arizona Cardinals. Finally, the club's first-year head coach got his wish.
Arizona's 24-10 triumph over the Pittsburgh Steelers this past weekend would qualify as a thing of beauty. Gannon's crew completely dominated the "Black and Gold" in all three phases of the game. In fact, the Redbirds hadn't turned in such an impressive outing since the club's 28-16 win over the Dallas Cowboys back in Week 3.
The Cards' week 13 triumph was ignited by a defense that didn't allow a touchdown by Pittsburgh until late in the matchup. That garbage-time score by veteran wide receiver Diontae Johnson occurred after "Big Red" had already built a 24-3 advantage. Before the contest got a bit out of hand, coordinator Nick Rallis devised a scheme that limited Pittsburgh to just three points during the first 55-plus minutes of the matchup.
Linebacker Josh Woods led all Cardinals tacklers with 11 stops. Safeties Budda Baker (eight tackles) and Jalen Thompson (seven tackles) were also outstanding. Arizona's defensive unit failed to record a sack, but edge rushers Dennis Gardeck and BJ Ojulari provided steady pressure throughout the afternoon.
Arizona Cardinals showed what they're capable of during the team's Week 13 triumph
Running back James Conner was the star of the show on offense, rumbling for 105 yards and a pair of touchdowns on the day. Trey McBride continued to ascend as an NFL tight end, hauling in eight passes for 89 yards and a score. Kyler Murray didn't put up gaudy numbers (165 total yards,1 touchdown), but the Cards quarterback managed the game well and made some crucial throws when he had to.
The Cardinals special teams unit also joined in on the fun in the "Steel City". Matt Prater added to his phenomenal campaign by banging home a 51-yard field goal and three extra points in the horrid conditions at Acrisure Stadium. Punter Blake Gillikin was once again spectacular, averaging 50.4 yards on five boots, and dropping two inside the 20-yard line.
With absolutely nothing to play for in Week 13, Arizona basically dominated a Steelers club that is thinking playoffs. Based on yesterday's masterpiece, one would think that the team would have registered more than three wins in 2023. If that type of all-around performance by the squad continues, there should be plenty more Cards victories to enjoy in the future.
(Statistics provided by ESPN.com)