The Arizona Cardinals wanted to use the AFC division-leading Indianapolis Colts game on Sunday as a measuring stick/barometer of how they stood as far as possible playoff contenders/ pretenders.
Looks like tons of a warm fuzzy feelings for a postseason spot in the Arizona forecast ahead.
Behind a dominate first half in which the Cardinals led 27-3 and another Larry Fitzgerald career milestone, Arizona pummeled the Colts 40-11 in a game that wasn't as close as the final score indicated. Arizona has won four straight.
Carson Palmer went 23 of 37 for 314 yards (114.0 QBR), WR Micheal Floyd had 7 catches for 104 yards for his second consecutive 100 yard game and Fitz scored 2 touchdowns while passing Randy Moss as the youngest WR in NFL history to pass the 11,000 mark at 30 years and 85 days.
Meanwhile, the Cardinals defense held the Colts and QB Andrew Luck to 239 total yards with only garbage time rushes from Luck and Dan Herron bringing the Colts rushing totals to a less than average 80 yards against the NFL's 2nd best rushing defense. Karlos Dansby had a 22 interception return for a touchdown and Darnell Dockett and Calais Campbell shared a sack as the defense harassed Luck and the Colts offense all afternoon.
"We expect to dominate like this all the time," Dansby said. "We just finally put it together as a unit. We're starting to believe in each other and trust one another and we're making plays all around."
Arizona leader Bruce Arians had won the Coach Of The Year award last season while filling in for the leukemia-treated Colts Chuck Pagano. He has a close relationship with most of his former team, yet refused to let his emotions show until before the contest. He "set the NFL record with pregame hugs with 18" according to CBS announcer Dan Fouts.
"The emotions of this game were gone way before kickoff," Arians said. "I saw a lot of friends, a lot of dear guys on that team. But once the whistle blows, it's just you and your brother in the backyard."
The 40 points scored were the the most by the Cardinals since 2010 and the most given up by the Colts since last season against the New England Patriots.
It was Palmer's first back-to-back 70% completion game since 2011 with Oakland and also the first consecutive quarterback rating above 100 since the same season.
This was the first win versus the Colts since 1990.
Jay Feely went 4/5 with FGs having his 17 straight FGs streak end with a block in the first quarter.
Dansby's pick-six was his first since 2005. (Finally caught one after so many misses.)
Fitzgerald "tried" his first career NFL pass attempt on an end around. It was incomplete.
The Cards sit at 7-4 and currently hold the the 2nd NFC Wildcard spot pending the Niners -Redskins tilt Monday night.
Indy has been outscored 83-12 in the first half of their last four games. They've usually had a strong second half. Not this time.
Colt's Adam Vinatieri has scored in 156 consecutive games he has played. Made a 27 yard FG in first quarter.
Indy's Robert Mathias had his 40th strip-sack against Palmer. He surpasses Jason Taylor for the most in NFL history.
Fitzgerald now has 14 two TD games tying Hall of Famer Ollie Matson.
Rashard Mendenhall had his two longest runs of the season(13 and 15 yards) on the Cardinals first three drives.
Arizona heads on the road to the NFC East leading Philadelphia Eagles next week.
The Cardinals haven't had much publicity despite their record and Carson Palmer affirmed it.
"I think this was a respect game," Palmer said. "I don't think we're well-respected throughout the league and that's not anybody's fault but our own.
"But I think we're better than people think and when you beat a good team, and a team that's beat good teams, it ups your respect among your peers and throughout the league."
7-4. Did you expect it at this juncture?