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Cardinals vs. Titans review: Ellington a star, Campbell and Dockett dominate according to PFF

Looking at how Pro Football Focus graded the Cardinals in their overtime victory over the Titans.

Frederick Breedon

By now, everyone's nerves should have settled down after the Arizona Cardinals blew a 17-point lead in the fourth quarter, nearly dropping a must-win game to the Tennessee Titans.

If not, take a deep breath and chill out. Because it's Seahawks week and this is the most important game of the season (until next week, that is).

But before we get into what the Cardinals need to do to beat Seattle, we first must go over who shined and who stunk against Tennessee.

The secondary as a whole struggled last week, but its star had perhaps his worst game as a professional. We'll get into that and more as we break down how Pro Football Focus graded the Cardinals against the Titans.


RB Andre Ellington (+3.4)

His performance has been talked about all week. Andre Ellington racked up 158 total yards from scrimmage on just 14 touches (11.3 yards per touch). He became just the ninth player since 1960 to average 7.0 yards per carry and 20.0 yards per catch (minimum 10 carries and four receptions).

Ellington's +3.4 grade is a career high, surpassing the +2.6 he earned Week 2 against the Lions. At this point in the season, it's hard to believe he is still a rookie. From his first game against the Rams during Week 1, he's never looked like a rookie sixth-round pick. Just how he fell that far into the laps of GM Steve Keim and head coach Bruce Arians remains a mystery, but it's not one that needs solving. We just need to thank the draft gods it happened.

QB Carson Palmer (+1.7)

The Cardinals improved to 5-0 this season when Carson Palmer's passer rating exceeds 100.0. He's done so in five of the past seven, and the team is 6-1 over that time.

In Tennessee, Palmer was sharp once again. Much like last week against the Rams, the deep-passing game was almost abandoned. He threw deep just once, a pass intended down the left sideline that an outstretched Andre Roberts just missed. The short to intermediate passing game worked well again, as he was most successful between zero and nine yards downfield -- he completed 12 of 14 passes (85.7%) for 104 yards and a score in that zone.

Overall, Palmer completed 20 of 30 passes (66.7%) for 231 yards, a touchdown and no interceptions for a 100.8 passer rating.

RT Eric Winston (-7.2)

Six weeks ago, it was Texans defensive end J.J. Watt. Last week, it was Titans defensive end Derrick Morgan. In both instances, Eric Winston experienced one of the worst games of his career, earning a combined -14.6 grade. He didn't allow a sack in either game, but he did surrender three quarterback hits and eight hurries between the two of them.

Winston was given a -3.4 run-blocking grade, but Arizona did most of its running to the right side of the line, so there were more opportunities for small mistakes to pile up and equal a terrible grade. He gets a pass this week based on that, but Seattle poses a massive problem if he can't get it together.


DE Darnell Dockett (+4.2)

Once again, veteran Darnell Dockett took it to a young rookie. Highly touted 10th overall pick, Chance Warmack, earned his worst grade to date as a pro, a -2.3 that had almost everything to do with Dockett.

Nine-Oh was in the backfield some on pass-rushing situations; he generated four total pressures of quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick but did not record a sack. He was at his best wrecking Tennessee's rushing attack, however. His +4.0 grade against the run is the highest he's earned since Week 1 of last season.

The GIF below was his best play, a 3-yard loss for running back Chris Johnson. You can see him catch the speedy Johnson from behind, which is impressive considering he's 300 pounds and 33 years old.

He doesn't have it every week as he did last week, but recently it's been more frequent. That could be a testament to the scheme, or to the man himself for his continuous work to get better. Or, it could be a combination of both.

DE Calais Campbell (+4.1)

Calais Campbell set a career high for quarterback pressures in a season two weeks ago, and with every pressure, he adds to it. After a seven-pressure performance against the Titans, he now has 60 in 576 pass-rushing snaps on the year. Generating pressure 10.4 percent of the time he rushes the passer is another career high for Campbell. For comparison, Watt has gotten pressure on 15.7 percent of his rushes (74-472), which is crazy.

Campbell had the initial hit of Fitzpatrick on Marcus Benard's sack strip in the first quarter that nearly led to a turnover. He also spent his afternoon beating the left side of the line on both run and pass plays, which is nothing new for the 6'8" Campbell.

CB Patrick Peterson (-4.2)

It's possible this was the worst game of Patrick Peterson's young career. In three seasons, he had never allowed nine receptions in a game. Nate Washington, Mike Preston and Kendall Wright combined for nine receptions on 10 targets for 146 yards and a touchdown with Peterson in coverage. Fitzpatrick had a 152.1 passer rating when targeting the Cardinals' star cornerback.

Wright did most of the damage against Peterson, racking up six receptions on seven targets for 96 yards. Hopefully this was just "one of those games" for Peterson and there isn't something wrong with him not being disclosed (worst-case scenario warning).