All week the Cardinals have been faced with uncertainty, who’s going to play QB? Is the defense going to be able to hold up? Is Ted Ginn Jr. going to return a punt this game?
Well much of that uncertainty was ended when Adam Schefter released via Twitter that Carson Palmer would be starting for the Cardinals. It would be reported by Bruce Arians that Palmer is 90% and good to play. Exhale fans.
With the first series of the game Palmer connected on a pass to TE John Carlson and moved the ball. The drive ultimately ended in a punt but it was good to see Palmer throwing. Punting to the Redskins, the second biggest question facing the Cardinals is how will the defense respond? Despite much worry the defense held on and got the Redskins off the field. The defense wasn’t as stifling as we’ve come to expect but young players made plays and made a potent Redskins offense fight for every yard.
On the Cardinals third possession of the game the Cardinals were helped by the defense with good field position and capitalized. On a great balance of Ellington runs and Palmer connections, the Cardinals worked their way into scoring position and Palmer reminded us what a starting QB looks like with a beautiful TD pass to Michael Floyd.
It wasn’t all roses for the Cardinals. Starting the second quarter Patrick Peterson gave up inside leverage to DeSean Jackson and paid for his mistake giving up a 50 yard TD and putting the struggling Redskins back into the game. The offense went three and out the ensuing play putting the defense right back out there.
The offense struggled in the second quarter and the Cardinals defense continued to be stout against the run but weak against DeSean Jackson. On a well-executed screen play, Jackson tripping was the only reason the Redskins didn’t score another TD and had to settle for a FG.
If there was one thing to be positive about on defense was that it was only two big plays that hurt the defense and not Washington running and passing all over the Cardinals defense.
As the quarter progressed the Cardinals offense continued to stall and didn’t show any life until two minutes left in the game. The Cardinals began to march down the field with a huge assist from a Washington PI on John Brown. That put the Cardinals in striking range of a field goal. Palmer kept looking to RBs and kept missing but finally decided to throw to WR’s getting the ball down to the Redskins 24 yard line and setting up a 24 yard TD throw to Larry Fitzgerald, his first of the season.
On a six yard slant Fitz caught the ball, broke a tackle and drug another defender into the end zone giving the Cardinals a 14-10 lead with 31 seconds left in the half.
But the Redskins, armed with two time-outs, were not scared of taking a shot downfield. The Cardinals gave up another big play, this time a screen to Roy Helu that put the Skins in range. A few plays later the Skins were in field goal range and knocked in a 45 field goal putting them down only one point going into the half.
The third quarter held lots of punts, penalties and one field goal by the Arizona Cardinals. Overall the quarter was a win for the Cardinals as the offense was excellent at controlling the clock and running down the clock. Palmer was efficient, hitting many short throws with the running game doing just enough to move the chains.
Washington only saw the ball twice in the quarter and both possessions ending in punts.
The fourth quarter started well for the Cardinals as they were able to drive down into field goal range. A great play by Ryan Kerrigan stopped the Cardinals on 3rd and 1 and led to another Cardinals field goal, putting the Cardinals up 20-13.
On the ensuing drive Cardinals former wide receiver Andre Roberts was stripped of the ball (on somewhat of a controversial call), giving the Cardinals the ball within striking distance. However the offense stalled, failing to move forward and instead losing yards, setting up Chandler Catanazaro another field goal opportunity. Catman is now 14-14 on the year and has been the biggest surprise of the off season.
But the Redskins weren’t giving up, with 4 minutes left in the game they marched down in four plays are scored a TD to put the game within three. On the ensuing possession the Cardinals offense stalled again and gave the Redskins the ball with 29 seconds left.
I felt my heart already getting ready to be crushed when Rashad Johnson has the play of the game picking off Kirk Cousins for an INT TD to seal the game.
With the Seahawks losing and the Cardinals moving to 4-1, the Cardinals are in the lead for the NFC West and in the driver’s seat.