Arizona Cardinals Soar Over Saints


The Arizona Cardinals were 5-0 in home openers since 2009, and they had a starting quarterback that is 6-0 in his last 6 starts. With Carson Palmer back under center, the Cardinals were back to their winning ways.

The 31-19 win over the New Orleans Saints took a team effort, and required both sides of the ball to battle.

Sep 13, 2015; Glendale, AZ, USA; New Orleans Saints running back Mark Ingram (22) is tackled by Arizona Cardinals strong safety Deone Bucannon (20) as free safety Tyrann Mathieu (32) defends during the second half at University of Phoenix Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

Arizona struck first with an opening drive touchdown. Palmer lead the team down the field on one of the best possessions of the game, going 80 yards on nine plays in just over five minutes, ending in a 10-yard touchdown to John Brown. The Saints responded with a field goal to cut the Cardinals lead, 7-3. Both teams got a touchdown on their third possession of the game and at the half the Cardinals lead 14-10.

The Saints came out in the second half and on the first play Drew Brees found Willie Sneed for 63 yards. This set New Orleans up for a field goal to cut the Cardinals lead to one. After exchanging field goals, the Cardinals were leading 17-16 middle of the 4th quarter when Palmer found Darren Fells for a 17-yard touchdown; Arizona up 24-16. The Saints responded with a field goal, and the Arizona offense could not move the ball, giving New Orleans the ball back with just over two minutes left.

The Cardinals’ defense played a big role in the game, and it showed on the Saints 23 second drive only allowing four yards of offense. The Saints decided to punt, giving the ball back to Arizona with 1:49 left. The Cardinals could run out the clock if they could get a first down.

After running for two yards on first down, the Cardinals were facing a second and eight, with 1:44 left in the game. Palmer, instead of running the ball, throws a screen pass to David Johnson who goes 55 yards for a touchdown. All the Cardinals needed was a first down, but Bruce Arians does not follow the 94.8 percent that run the ball in that situation. With the Cardinals leading 31-19, Brees and the Saints’ offense were unsuccessful in getting down the field, turning the ball over on downs.

Sep 13, 2015; Glendale, AZ, USA; Arizona Cardinals running back David Johnson (31) carries the ball on a 55 yard touchdown run in the second half against the New Orleans Saints at University of Phoenix Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

One of the keys to the Cardinals win was the offense’s ability to move the ball down the field when needed. Palmer went 19-for-32 with 307 yards and three touchdowns. He was able to find ten different receivers, including connecting with Larry Fitzgerald six times for 87 yards. Palmer, with the win, became the first Cardinals’ quarterback since Jim Hart in 1974, to win seven straight starts.

The Cardinals’ running game looked like it could explode at times, but only got 120 yards on 25 attempts. Andre Ellington was looking good, but fumbled in the second half and then left the game with an apparent knee injury in the 4th quarter. Ellington had 69 yards before his injury; he did not return and will be re-evaluated on Monday.

The Saints were also able to move the ball well, but the Cardinals’ defense was too much to overcome. Brees was 30-for-48 with 355 yards, a touchdown, and an interception. Brees looked very good, but key drops and the inability to get the run game going was the downfall of the Saints on Sunday. The Cardinals’ defense held New Orleans to only 54 yards of rushing, looking like the defense that can keep this team in close games.

Even though the Cardinals played a great game, this is only Week One; there are 15 more games to be played. Arizona travels to Chicago to play the Bears next Sunday, 10 AM PT.