In our final touch up of the Cardinals victory against the Detroit Lions this past Sunday, we'll discuss the defense. The best possible summery for the game is this - when the offense turned the ball over, Detroit scored points. When the game was on the line, they didn't. Let's see how they did.
Defensive Line: Two sacks on the day doesn't necessarily stand out as a good performance but considering the Lions quarterbacks completed a measly 16 of 31 passes, I'd say they did alright. The initial surge was consistently coming from Darnell Dockett's side of the line and he single handily stopped the Lions on a key 4th and 1 play in their own red zone. They did have trouble stopping Maurice Morris, who led the team in receptions(5) after benefiting from the screen pass. Another blip for the defensive line was the play of Bryan Robinson. The veteran defensive tackle uncharacteristically unleashed on the referees twice, drawing consecutive unsportsmanlike conduct penalties that resulted in a Detroit field goal.
Linebackers: The Cardinals linebackers didn't face a well-known tight end, nor did they face an all-pro running back on Sunday, yet somehow they managed to allow 161 total yards to career-back up Maurice Morris. The blame shouldn't completely fall on the linebackers, but they did blow coverage on the 64 yard touchdown run. The linebackers have also struggled generating pressure on quarterbacks the last four games, registering only 1 sack(Haggans) - yeah, one.
Defensive Backs: Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie played the game with an injured toe, yet somehow managed to pick off two passes on Sunday. He also did a great job limiting Calvin Johnson to only 3 catches. Antrel Rolle and Bryant McFadden had a solid game while Adrian Wilson nabbed half a sack and is currently one away from 20 total for his career. Looking at the Lions combined quarterback stats[16/31, 129 yards, 3.9 avg 35.5 QB rating] it's obvious this unit shutdown Detroit's passing attack.
My Defensive Grade: B+
It's easy to judge the defense when looking at the scoreboard, but when you take away the turnovers, the Cardinals defense only allowed 10 points. They dominated whatever sliver of a passing game Detroit had left, and if they hadn't given up so many rushing yards their performance would've easily warrented an A. What grade did you give the Cardinals defense and why?