It was an ugly win Saturday at University of Phoenix Stadium. But as they say, a win is a win. And any time that win is against the Dallas Cowboys, that just makes it even better, preseason or not.
The Arizona Cardinals rode the defense to their second victory in as many preseason weeks, giving fans in the building and all around the Valley flashbacks of 2012, when the defense routinely spoon fed the offense with great field position only to watch them fumble and bumble their way out of points.
Through two games, the Cardinals have an 8/1 turnover ratio. That is simply outstanding, and the six turnovers created by Todd Bowles' defense against the Cowboys should have resulted in an incredibly lopsided score. But, 12-7 is what it was, and the play of the game candidates reflect heavily the defense's performance.
Strips and picks are the theme here. Which play gets your vote for ROTB play of the game?
If you want to make an NFL roster as an undrafted rookie, the only way to do that is to impress your coaches on game day. Safety Tony Jefferson certainly impressed his coaches Saturday with this play to foil a late first-half drive by the Cowboys, playing center field and cutting off a deep ball from Kyle Orton intended for Dwayne Harris.
That is not his only play of the game nomination, however. More on Jefferson in a minute.
One thing the secondary works on daily at practice is stripping the ball from behind ball-carriers. This play is why they work on it so much. The result is just what Bowles wants from his defense, and it does not get any better than Jerraud Powers stripping strong-handed Dez Bryant of the football after initially being burned by him.
Justin Bethel strips Dwayne Harris on punt return
The offense had just gone 3-and-out on the first drive of the game. Punter Dave Zastudil sent a kick high and deep into Cowboys territory, where it was fielded by receiver Dwayne Harris at his own 25-yard line. That is when special teams aces Lorenzo Alexander and Justin Bethel teamed up to give the ball back to the offense with a chance to take an early lead.
Bethel was credited with the forced fumble of Harris, but Alexander was instrumental in making the play happen as well. He stood up Harris and allowed Bethel to sneak in and rip it out at the last second.
Jerraud Powers picks Kyle Orton
Despite the horridness of this throw from Orton, the result was yet another example of the defense giving the offense a short field. Powers was beaten on a deep ball from Tony Romo to Terrence Williams earlier in the game. The pass was incomplete by way of a drastic overthrow from Romo, but Powers began making up for the burn by picking off Orton deep in Cowboys territory.
Tony Jefferson seals win by picking Alex Tanney
Regardless of his placement on the depth chart, Jefferson played a heck of a game Saturday in the preseason home opener. His second interception of the game came as the team led by five with under two minutes remaining. Cowboys third-string quarterback Alex Tanney was mounting a late comeback drive to win the game, and Jefferson spoiled it by jumping a deep in-route from receiver Jared Green.