The Arizona Cardinals came away from Week 2 with a come from behind 25-21 win over the Detroit Lion, doing so without star receiver Larry Fitzgerald at the end of the game.
Head coach Bruce Arians summed it up nicely. "Last week we didn't finish," he told the media in his postgame press conference. "This week we did."
Finish is what they did. After Detroit took a 14-10 lead into halftime, the team had to make some adjustments.
"It was a team win," said Arians. "Our defense was lights out in the second half. I thought (defensive coordinator) Todd (Bowles) did a great job of adjusting at halftime...I thought overall defensively we did a great job continually to get after the quarterback and pressure him and play good pass defense."
The defense did not allow a point in the second half. Detroit only converted one third down in the second half. The gave the offense a chance to win.
What were the adjustments?
"A lot of them were squeezing coverage," he explained. "We were playing too far off in third and five or less."
The result in the passing game?
Matthew Stafford was 16/20 for 210 yards and two scores in the first half. In the second, he was 8/16 for 68 yards. The big plays after the catch went away.
Arizona also took the ball away on a fumbled handoff and blocked a field goal.
The special teams unit was also fantastic. They blocked one field goal, affected David Akers into missing another and did great in punt coverage. "The punt coverage team did a great job," said Arians. "Jay (Feely) did a good job kicking off." All seven of Feely's kickoffs went into the endzone and six were touchbacks. Detroit "had a long field" most of the game.
Arians said the special teams play was "huge." He explained that, in addition to the field goal that Justin Bethel blocked in the second half, Bethel almost got to one in the first half, the play in which Bethel was called for running into David Akers. Akers had a second chance for the kick, from 47 yards and missed it. "I think (the near block by Bethel) affected the second one," said Arians.
The team also got key contributions from young players. Tyrann Mathieu made the fourth down tackle to end Detroit's final drive and he also deflected a pass early in the game. Safety Tony Jefferson had significant playing time when the defense was using a dime or big nickel packages. Andre Ellington scored a touchdown and had two of the biggest offensive plays of the game. Kerry Taylor, who got playing time in place of Larry Fitzgerald, hauled in four receptions. As evidenced by their playing time, Arians empasized that he has "no problem playing those young kids.'
While the offense struggled to convert in key moments (they were 1/11 on third down for the game), they came up big in the last four minutes when it mattered most.
Now, that's not to say that Arians was not frustrated, because he was. "I'm always frustrated," he explained about his demeanor during games. "I'm pissed off the whole game, nothing satisfies me. You can ask the coaches. Anytime you feel like you have a really good third down plan and one thing and another, and you're one for 11, I believe, it's not good because we had good drives going. We weren't getting three and out, thee and out. It was first down, first down, chunk play and you get to very manageable third and fives, third and sixes where we liked our matchups, and we just didn't convert."
They did make the plays late, which is something that Arians preaches. "That's all we talk about -- finishing games; two minutes," he said. "Eighty-something percent of the game are decided in the two minutes at the end of the half and end of the game. We practice two minute a ton and we talk about two minute a ton. Last week we didn't finish. This week we did."
Arizona will take to the road for the next two weeks to play the New Orleans Saints and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Having one win under their belt will only be a positive thing, especially seeing how they had to rally back and adjust to get the victory on Sunday.