The front seven of the Arizona Cardinals put on a show Sunday against a very good Carolina Panthers offensive line, leading to a 22-6 victory. The defense recorded seven sacks for the first time in 26 years, they had three players with at least two sacks in the same game for the first time in 26 years as well (two different games in 1987) and the offense was efficient when the team needed it to be.
We will not be calling the offense "good" or "consistent." But "clutch?" Yes, clutch is what it was.
But with all the bad offense we saw, the team still managed to squeeze in a player-of-the-game nominee. Given his performance Sunday, you should already know who it is. We try and keep it even in terms of getting offensive and defensive players on the ballot every week, but the defensive domination put together is too much to overlook this week.
They were simply awesome, and they should be rewarded for it.
Here are your player-of-the-game nominees.
Stats: 3 passes defended, 1 tackle, 1 interception, 41 INT yards
Patrick Peterson played a solid game once again Sunday. Coordinator Todd Bowles stuck him on Carolina star wideout Steve Smith most of the day, and he held his own -- Smith was the intended receiver on Peterson's interception of quarterback Cam Newton at the goal line.
The pick halted a drive that quickly entered Arizona territory after a 32-yard catch-and-run from Newton to receiver Ted Ginn and flipped momentum for the defense from then on.
Stats: 4 tackles, 2 for loss, 2 sacks, 2 QB hits, 1 safety
It seemed as though the final blow for the Carolina offense came when defensive end Calais Campbell sacked Newton in the end zone for a safety in a 10-6 game. The third quarter was winding down, and a big drive from the Panthers could have changed the outcome of the game -- Arizona's offense has executed poorly when trailing this season.
But Campbell blasted Newton, giving quarterback Carson Palmer the ball with five minutes left in the third and a six-point lead. Not that he did anything with it.
Stats: 7 carries, 52 yards, 7.4 yards per carry; 4 receptions, 31 yards, 7.8 yards per reception
He did not provide any jaw-dropping highlights this week -- none like when he broke Darrelle Revis' ankles in Tampa. But Andre Ellington was great once again when given an opportunity.
The fact that he is able to hit holes with such quickness and elusiveness leads many to believe he could end up starting sometime soon. Perhaps sooner than later. Rashard Mendenhall is losing a lot of fans each week he fails to hit holes that are consistently there for him.
They see Ellington burst through running lanes and wonder why Mendenhall does not do that. It's all about burst. Mendenhall lacks it, while Ellington is all about it.
Stats: 8 tackles, 2 for loss, 2 sacks, 2 QB hits, 1 interception
We saw Karlos Dansby's patented Dirty Bird dance for the first time since 2009 Sunday. He liked it so much that he decided to do it again just a few plays later.
It was the first multi-sack game for Dansby since Sept. 2007 during his first stint with Arizona -- his sixth overall in the regular season.
If not for the final player on the ballot this week, he may be the clear-cut favorite for player of the game.
Of course, without the final player on the ballot, he probably doesn't have the game he did.
Stats: 9 tackles, 3 for loss, 2 sacks, 2 QB hits, 1 interception, 41 INT yards
With two sacks in his first game back from a four-game suspension, inside linebacker Daryl Washington became the franchise's all-time leader in games with at least two sacks for his position. He now has three.
Washington's presence was felt throughout, as he was his typical sideline-to-sideline self. The impact he had in the huddle cannot be measured by any metric, but he could be the reason the defense clamped down as it did in pressure situations.
He is the best player on the roster, and he showed why Sunday.