Cardinals Back on Track with Win Against Ravens


It may not have been the prettiest game, but man was it fun to watch, as the Arizona Cardinals beat the Baltimore Ravens, 26-18.

When the Cardinals took the field they were looking at a Ravens’ team that is much better than their record states. The 1-5 Ravens were one or two plays from being 5-1. The Ravens could not overcome mental mistakes and a very talented Cardinals’ team.

Every Monday Night Football game that the Cardinals play there always seems to be wacky, strange plays that define the game. The wacky continued to hold true when Chris Johnson took the handoff and seemed to be stopped after a five-yard gain, but was never down and no whistle was blown. He ran the ball for another 57 yards to the Baltimore eight-yard line, setting up a Cardinals field goal.

The Cardinals’ offense seemed to move the ball very well until they got into the red zone. Once in the red zone the timing of plays seemed to be off. Strange stoppages and long pauses seemed to haunt Arizona once they were deep in Baltimore territory.

Outside of the 2-of-4 on red zone opportunities, the Cardinals offense was nearly perfect. Carson Palmer was 20-for-29 with 275 yards and two touchdowns. Palmer was able to thread the needle many times including hitting John Brown in stride in the second half. Brown had four receptions for 65 yards and one touchdown. Palmer found seven different receivers, spreading the ball evenly throughout the night.

In the two Cardinals losses, they were unable to get a running game going and were not balanced on run and pass plays.

In this win, they found Chris Johnson to be their secret weapon. Johnson had 18 carries for 122 yards and one touchdown. He seemed to be exactly what the Cardinals needed to move the ball down the field.

When the Cardinals were up by ten in the 4th quarter Andre Ellington came in to give Johnson some rest. He had five carries for 21 yards, and three catches for 28 yards. Ellington was the breath of fresh air the Cardinals needed late in the game.

On the other side of the ball, the Ravens’ offense seemed to get few opportunities, but took the most of them when given. They took advantage of a blocked punt to set up the touchdown that cut the lead to eight in the fourth quarter.

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Outside of one drive long drive the Cardinals’ defense seemed to know exactly what the Ravens were doing. Joe Flacco was 26-of-40 for 252 yards, an interception, and a touchdown.

His interception came at a very inopportune time. As the Ravens were driving to try to tie the game, Flacco overthrew is receiver in the endzone and was picked off by Tony Jefferson.

Flacco had quality throws that would have been completions, but the Cardinals defense batted several passes away. The running game got nothing going on the night, rushing for a combined 55 yards, with Justin Forsett having only 36 yards on 12 carries.

The one mistake the Cardinals’ defense made was the inability to stop the screenplay. Baltimore was able to get several big plays because of Arizona lack of coverage on the plays.

As mentioned in the players to watch article, Drew Butler and Tyrann Mathieu for the Cardinals were the ones that you needed to keep your eyes on and they did not disappoint.

Butler had struggled on his punts this season, but he looked improved in this game. His net average was 48, which was five yards more than his average in the team’s loss to the Steelers.

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Butler’s only mistake came in the form of a block, which he really could do nothing about.

His deep punts allowed for the coverage team to do their job, which involved a fumble recovery that lead to a Cardinals touchdown.

Tyrann Mathieu is my player of the game. He seemed to be all over the field, making tackles, recording sacks, and deflecting passes.

The “Honey Badger” had seven tackles and one sack, but his most important play came in the form of pass coverage on a possible touchdown, which he deflected away from the receiver.

This was nowhere near a perfect game for the Cardinals, but a win is a win. Arizona is now 5-2, first in the NFC West by two games. They will travel to Cleveland next week to face the Browns.

This is a Browns’ team that could possibly have Johnny Manziel as their quarterback, but if healthy, it will be a match-up of a former Cardinals draft pick in Josh McCown. It is an early game for us in Arizona, as kickoff occurs at 11 am.