It was ugly, but a win is a win. The Arizona Cardinals defeated the Detroit Lions Sunday in exciting fashion, 25-21. Clutch defense and the running game came through late for the Cardinals (1-1), who have now beaten the Lions (1-1) five consecutive times.
Here are some of the Cards' ProFootballFocus grades that stick out.
RB Andre Ellington (+2.6)
The top-rated offensive player, rookie running back Andre Ellington scored his first NFL touchdown on a wheel route, which you can see here. He finished the Lions game No. 1 in both the passing (+1.3) and running (+1.2) game, according to PFF.
He caught two passes for a team-high 42 yards (21.0 YPC) and the score, and he rushed four times for 20 yards (5.0 YPC).
Ellington did what he did on only 21 snaps. He is a part-time player, and he may not be anything more than anytime soon. But if he keeps having games like this, head coach Bruce Arians will have to find more snaps for him.
LT Levi Brown (+1.1)
Week 1 for Levi Brown was one to forget. St. Louis Rams defensive end Robert Quinn battered the seven-year veteran, and he ended up being the worst-rated offensive player for the game because of it.
A week later, and he's No. 3 -- right behind Ellington and wideout Larry Fitzgerald (+1.5).
Brown faced rookie DE Ziggy Ansah Sunday, and aside from allowing a sack that was nullified due to a defensive penalty, he performed admirably enough. His pass-blocking (0.0) was average, but where he shined -- where he's always shined -- was in run-blocking (+0.6).
TE Jim Dray (-4.0)
It's a perfect time for Rob Housler to return to practice, because Jim Dray had a difficult time acting as an athletic tight end. He led the team with five receptions against the Lions, but he gained only 31 yards (6.2 YPC) with a long of 14.
Dray is said to be a blocking tight end, but he struggled Sunday, earning a -1.1 pass-blocking grade and a -2.4 run-blocking grade. He was called for holding at one point but, to his credit, it was not holding. The referees blew a call (imagine that).
Other notable grades
RB Rashard Mendenhall (+0.7), WR Jaron Brown (+0.7), LG Daryn Colledge (-1.3), WR Michael Floyd (-1.3), QB Carson Palmer (-1.7), RG Paul Fanaika (-3.3)
CB Jerraud Powers (+1.7)
These are the types of games we need to see from Jerraud Powers this season. He was targeted three times and allowed only a four-yard reception to wideout Nate Burleson.
He was on lockdown mode the rest of the time. Not flashy, but in the NFL, if you're a cornerback and you're not being targeted, you're doing something right.
CB Tyrann Mathieu (+1.5)
Multiple plays from rookie Tyrann Mathieu Sunday stand out. There was the batted pass of Matthew Stafford, but the play everyone was talking about after the game was his game-saving fourth-down stop of Burleson.
It should have been included as one of the plays of the game -- that's my fault for overlooking it.
He allowed four receptions on four targets for 30 yards (7.5 YPC) to Burleson, but only one of them resulted in any noteworthy yards after the catch -- a play he had no chance of stopping at the time of the reception, GIF here.
He earned a start Sunday because of a different defensive look from coordinator Todd Bowles. He should be in the starting lineup every week from here on out after the two-week stretch we've seen from him.
OLB John Abraham (-2.5)
Veteran John Abraham has yet to show the pass-rushing dominance he spent the past decade-plus displaying while with the New York Jets and Atlanta Falcons. As a pass-rushing specialist, he is expected to get to the quarterback. He has generated five quarterback hurries in two games, but the absence of sacks is troubling.
Granted, he is not a full-time player (just 56 snaps of a possible 131 through two games). Hopefully for the defense, he gets it going soon.
Other notable grades
ILB Jasper Brinkley (+1.0), FS Tony Jefferson (+0.7), CB Patrick Peterson (-1.3), FS Rashad Johnson (-1.9)