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Cardinals vs. Eagles review: Patrick Peterson, Tyrann Mathieu highlight loss according to PFF

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Looking at how Pro Football Focus graded the Cardinals in their loss in Philly.

Howard Smith-USA TODAY Sports

In the end, the Arizona Cardinals did not do enough to get a win. The Philadelphia Eagles took advantage of early turnovers to build a lead they would not surrender, and with the 24-21 loss, Arizona's playoff chances took a big hit.

Pass protection faltered, as Carson Palmer was sacked five times and pressured 19 total times on 46 drop-backs (41.3%). That's far too often to have any respectable passing attack. He managed three touchdowns in bringing the team to the brink of a comeback, but his three turnovers were the difference.

Pro Football Focus says the left side of the line was the main culprit. Here's how they graded the Cardinals in their Week 13 loss.


RB Rashard Mendenhall (+2.6)

In Andre Ellington's absence, Rashard Mendenhall was given more touches than usual, and he impressed. He carried 18 times for 76 yards (4.2 YPC) and had a season-high eight go for at least five yards. His carries, yards and yards-per-carry average were also season highs.

It appears Mendenhall has gotten on the right track after a terribly slow start to the season. Add a healthy Ellington, and the running game could be something to watch the remainder of the season.

C Lyle Sendlein (+1.3)

The veteran center struggled in pass protection, but Lyle Sendlein was a great run-blocker against the Eagles. He earned the only above-average run-blocking grade on Sunday, at +1.4. Left tackle Bradley Sowell was closest to him, at +0.1.

Sendlein allowed only one quarterback hurry officially, but he spent a lot of the game being driven back. He also had a holding call declined because Palmer was sacked anyway.

LG Daryn Colledge and LT Bradley Sowell (-8.3)

It's worth putting these scores together not only because they were so poor, but because these two make up Palmer's blind side and were the two worst-ranked players on the entire team for Sunday.

Of the 19 pressures the line allowed, Sowell and Daryn Colledge accounted for 10 of them. It's Colledge's worst grade since Week 14 of last season (in Seattle). And it's Sowell's worst grade since Week 7 (at home against Seattle).


CB Patrick Peterson (+3.8)

Patrick Peterson's matchup with DeSean Jackson was my matchup to watch. The All-Pro cornerback won the battle, surrendering only one reception for 25 yards on three targets to Jackson. His +3.8 overall grade was good for No. 2 among corners for Week 13.

For his efforts against Jackson, PFF gave Peterson a +3.3 coverage grade, propelling him past Darrelle Revis and giving him the NFL's top grade in coverage, at +10.6. He also moved up from No. 8 to No. 4 overall for the 2013 season.

CB Tyrann Mathieu (+1.1)

Sure, he allowed two of the three touchdowns Nick Foles threw on Sunday. But Tyrann Mathieu was solid everywhere else against the Eagles. His strong point was pass rushing, where he earned a +0.8 while notching one QB hurry.

He was in the backfield on three of Arizona's five sacks of Foles, including the one below. The power he shows against tight end Brent Celek is outstanding.

Celek is not the first tight end he's bulldozed, however. He took out Seattle Seahawks TE Zach Miller in near identical fashion earlier this season.

Mathieu is now the No. 2 rated cornerback in the NFL (+14.3) and is right on the heels of Revis (+15.4). Who saw that coming?

OLB Matt Shaughnessy (-1.0)

Matt Shaughnessy is not the pass-rushing type, but he did sack Foles and record three total pressures in Philly. His overall grade would have been much better if not for a costly -- and beyond questionable -- holding penalty at the end of the game.

His grade in defending the run kept the overall number just below average, however. The +1.7 mark indeed propelled him into No. 2 against the run among 3-4 OLBs, as I predicted would happen after the game. He was great in helping slow LeSean McCoy.