We know the Cardinals won the game against the Lions, but how did it happen? Let's find out by taking a look at the stats that mattered.
With the victory the Cardinals move to 9-1 for the season, the best start for the franchise since the '48 defending champion Chicago Cardinals who finished their season at 11-1. With the best record in the NFL and a three game lead in the NFC West the Cardinals also hold a two game advantage over four other NFC contenders for the best conference record (three of which the Cards hold the tie-breaker advantage).
Points Scored 14-6
A low scoring affair and with the Cardinals 14-6 victory the team's average points per game move to 23.7 offensively and 17.6 defensively (ranked 3rd in the league*). The Cardinals points per game differential of +6.1 ranks 7th in the NFL.
Total Yards 352-262
The Cardinals have won three games this season when being out-gained but have now taken the high-road with three consecutive games having the advantage in total net yards. The Cards are actually negative in the differential for this category for the season -- but who cares when you have many ways to win games up your sleeve.
Rushing Yards 46-98
The good, the bad, and the ugly: By allowing 98 yards on the ground the Cardinals have still not allowed a 100-yard rusher this year and have kept the opposing team under the century mark in all but one game (Eagles - 110). The team's 80.5 rushing yards per game stays put at #3 in the league while the Lions retain the #1 ranking at 68.8 ypg.
While the 46 yards rushing is an improvement over last week's grand total of 28 yards, this clearly points to the team's greatest weakness. By falling to 79.8 yards per game, the Cardinals are now in a dead-heat for next-to-last place in the NFL on the ground (only the Raiders have fared worse). The team the Cards find themselves tied with? The Detroit Lions.
It's amazing what the team has accomplished while being so anemic in the running game, but it really would be expecting too much to think the team could accomplish their goal without a noticeable improvement here. More on that in the comment section.
Passing Yards 306-164
After being held to under 300 yards per game for the first six weeks of the season, the Cardinals have now passed for 300+ yards in three out of the last four games to raise their average yards per game to 253.2 (11th ranked). The two 1st-quarter touchdown passes gave the Cards a lead they never relinquished.
The 164 passing yards allowed exactly matches the team's best performance earlier in the year against the Raiders. The great play by the defense in shutting down the Lions air attack had much to do with Sunday's victory.
First Downs 18-11
Quite the defensive battle seeing as the league average for first downs is 20.4 (neither team scored in the 2nd half). Holding the Lions to 11 total first downs is truly outstanding and a sure sign of a defense that dominated their opponent.
It doesn't get much better than this and now the Cardinals at 18-16 are on the plus side of this category for the season (how often have we been able to say that in recent years?). The defensive pressure had very much to do with disrupting a potentially dangerous Lions offense while the Cardinals kept their quarterback sack-free for the third time this season .
Now let's take a look player stats
In the first-ever 300+ yard passing game of his career, Stanton completed 21 of 32 passes (66%) for 306 yards. The two first-quarter touchdown passes were later offset by two interceptions, but the near 10 yards per pass attempt was very good indeed. Quarterback rating: 91.4
Nothing like accounting for all your team's points while outscoring your opponent too. Two pass receptions for 54 yards were very efficiently cashed in for two touchdowns that put the Cardinals ahead to stay.
Rashad Johnson (interception) - Alex Okafor (2 sacks) - Deone Bucannon and Larry Foote (6 tackles / 1 for loss) - John Brown (5 receptions / 69 yards) - Robert Hughes (1 reception / 49 yards).
That's what the numbers told us
And when you add them all up the end result was the big 'W'.
* All team rankings were taken at press-time and are subject to change pending the Steelers/Titans Monday night game.