The Arizona Cardinals came into today's game as a 2.5 point favorites, barely favored over the Atlanta Falcons, a team missing both of their start WRs and a defense that gave up 20 points to the lowly Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Today Vegas very off with Arizona dominating on defense picking off Matt Ryan four times. The last time the Cardinals met the Falcons the defense collected five INTs. For whatever reason the Arizona Cardinals have Matt Ryan's number and have nine interceptions collected over the last two games faced against Ryan.
Overall the defense played exceptional football and sacked Ryan four times, harassed him, hit him and pressured him all night. Without his top two WRs he looked lost and made many poor decisions on the day. The run defense was also exceptional giving up only 27 yards on the day and only six to Steven Jackson on 11 carries. Probably the most important stat was only giving up 26 yards and three receptions to all-world TE Tony Gonzalez. Overall if not for a terrible PI call the Cardinals would have kept the Falcons out of the red zone.
But it wasn't just the defense that was doing work, rookie stud Andre Ellington starting in place of injured Rashard Mendenhall had the best day a Cardinal running back has had since former Cardinals running back Beanie Wells ran for 228 yards and a TD against the St. Louis Rams in week 12 of 2011. Ellington on 15 carries amassed 154 yards and a TD. He also is now in the Cardinals records book having the third longest run in franchise history with his 80 yard TD scamper. The Juke of Ellington showed off patience, quickness and speed in a debut day. For the day the Cardinals had 201 total yards of rushing. It is very unlikely Rashard Mendenhall will be starting for the Cardinals the rest of the season.
The passing game of the Cardinals also showed some life, despite an early and ever frustrating interception by Carson Palmer. Thankfully the INT came early and only gave the Falcons three points and even better it was Palmer's only interception of the day. After that he came alive for a very quite but efficient day. Palmer finished with 172 yards on 13/18 passing, two TDs and one INT with a passer rating of 116. Palmer made some big throws with a 51 yard bomb to recently signed Teddy Williams and TD throws to Larry Fitzgerald and Michael Floyd. He was still sacked three times but limited his mistakes and gave the Cardinals offense what was needed to win.
The Cardinals now 4-4 going into their bye week. With the Seahawks likely to smash the Rams, the Cardinals could end the week in sole possession of third place and in solid position to make a push at a wild card spot.