It was definitely wasn’t pretty last night, but a win is a win however you slice it, as the Arizona Cardinals came away with an ugly win in a tightly contested game against the San Diego Chargers, 18-17 on Monday Night Football.
The Cardinals’ defense performed very well throughout the night, particularly in the first half as they held the San Diego offense to just 3 points. Jerraud Powers came up with a huge interception towards the end of the first half, which led to Chandler Catanzaro making his first career NFL field goal to give Arizona a 6-3 lead at halftime. Veteran linebacker Larry Foote led the team with 8 tackles and seemed to be involved in every play out there.
The offense struggled to get anything going for the first 3 quarters. The running game wasn’t as effective, probably due to the fact that Andre Ellington had been dealing with a foot injury for most of this week. Still, Ellington ended up making some good plays down the stretch.
Carson Palmer had a solid game passing for over 300 yards and passing for two touchdowns and had zero interceptions. He hung in the pocket even though he was under a lot of pressure for most of the night.
A big concern offensively was that Larry Fitzgerald was not targeted a single time during the first half of this game. Like Ellington, this could have been due to the fact that Fitzgerald was dealing with an injury leading up to this game. But nevertheless, once catch for 22 yards for a receiver like Larry Fitzgerald isn’t good enough. It seems like Palmer and Fitzgerald were not on the same page at times and Palmer just looked like he was more comfortable throwing to his other receivers.
On the bright side of the receiving game, Michael Floyd had a monster performance with five catches for 119 yards. Floyd definitely picked up right where he left off last season. He should continue to see more of these opportunities as the season goes along.
There are a few things that need to be worked on before next Sunday’s game. First, the offensive line looked shaky at times last night. Carson Palmer had to evade pass rushers more than he should have last night. He ended up running for 29 yards, and while that sounds like a good thing, those rushing yards came when Palmer had to elude the Chargers’ pass rushers.
Second, the special teams unit has to get better. The return game must improve, whether it’s kick returns or punt returns. Ted Ginn Jr. only averaged 16 yards on kick returns and wasn’t able to return any punts. Also, the Cardinals’ special teams allowed the Chargers to block a punt, which set up San Diego’s offense in the red zone. Luckily, the defense was able to make San Diego settle for a field goal.
All in all, there are definitely some things to work on, but the Cardinals got the job done in Week 1 on a big stage. Look for this team to surprise a lot of people this year.