After defeating the Atlanta Falcons 27-13 at home, the team now sits at 4-4 as they enter the bye week.
Here are 5 positives from the game:
1) Andre Ellington
Ellington ran away with the opportunity that was handed to him. Due to Rashard Mendenhall's toe injury, Ellington received the start, and he took full advantage of it, churning out 154 yards on 15 carries. But it was his 80 yard TD in the 2nd quarter that really showed what he's capable of. The rookie from Clemson has definitely been a bright spot for the Cardinals this season.
2) Carson Palmer
The run game also benefited the Cardinals QB. Palmer entered Sunday on a 5 game two-interception streak, and it looked like it would be another long game after Palmer threw one more early in the 1st quarter. However, he bounced back, and due to strong support on the ground from his RBs, Palmer ended the day 13-18 for 172 yards and two TD's (One to Michael Floyd and the other to Larry Fitzgerald, both in the 2nd quarter). This was exactly what the Cardinals have been needing from Palmer all year: Decent play with minimal mistakes.
Note: Much credit has to go to the O-line, who looked very improved from previous games this season.
3) The Run Defense
You know it's been a good day for your defense when the top rusher from the opposing team is their quarterback. Matt Ryan led the Falcons with 13 rushing yards on 1 play. What about the Falcons RB's, you may ask? They combined for 14 yards off of 13 plays. That is a FANTASTIC stat line that I will take any day.
4) Containing Opposing TE's
Tight Ends have been a problem for the Cardinals defense. Against the Falcons? No worries at all. Star TE Tony Gonzales, who's playing his last season with the Falcons this year, was predicted by many to carve up the Cards defense. Gonzales ended the day with 3 receptions for 26 yards. Another stat line I'm happy with anytime.
5) The Play Calling
I've been very critical of the Coaching Staff's play-calling this season, including some of their decisions (Like not committing to Andre Ellington). However, they were spot-on against the Falcons, on both sides of the ball. They stuck to the run, limiting Palmer to only 18 passes (Compare this to Matt Ryan's 61 attempted passes), and seemed to be one step ahead of the Falcons offense for most of the game. If the team can keep running as smoothly as they did on Sunday, we could be looking at a much different season.
Bonus Positive because the game was just that good: Interceptions. Matt Ryan was intercepted a total of 4 times, twice by S Rashad Johnson, once by LB Daryl Washington, and once by FS Tyrann Mathieu. Ryan has to hate playing at University of Phoenix Stadium at this point.
It's a good sign when there are too many positives to write about. Enjoy this win, Cardinals fans.