The third preseason game of the year is always the most anticipated preseason game as finally get to see the starters in their first extended action since the season ended. The third preseason game is an opportunity to see how the team is progressing and possibly see a glimpse of things to come.
Hopefully the third preseason game for the Cardinals is only a glimpse of what we can expect from the defense as the first string offense left me feeling nervous.
The game started with a great special teams play by Jaron Brown, pinning the Cincinnati Bengals returner inside the 15. The starting defense smothered the Bengals starting offense, forcing a three-and-out. It was great to see the defense swarming the run and forcing Andy Dalton into rushed throws. The ensuing punt lead to a big hit, helmet-to-helmet (that went uncalled) on Teddy Ginn, who didn’t call for a fair catch.
Good feels created by the defensive stand soon left as the offense came out sluggish. A few short runs by Ellington and several near misses by Carson Palmer was an uninspiring start. Palmer had several opportunities for big plays on his first few drives but missed an open Michael Floyd twice, once for a sure TD and another for a huge gain and the possibility of a TD.
On the second drive of the game, Palmer and Fitzgerald weren't on the same page leading to a Bengals INT TD. It appeared that Fitzgerald kept running on an option route seeing the DB sit while Palmer expected Fitz to cut in front of the DB. The outcome was an easy interception by Terrance Newman and clear field ahead. 7-0 Bengals.
The next drive started with several short runs by Ellington. With a third and long and poor execution so far it looked as if the Cardinals were on their way to a three an out. However a well executed quick slant to Fitzgerald, went 43 yards due to an excellent Floyd bloke. The offense stalled in the red zone and embattled kicker Jay Feely hurt his cause with a missed 48 yard field goal
The second quarter started smoothly with the defense closing out the Bengals to another three-and-out. The offense started off well with good field position given to them by the defense and a big 24 yard Andre Ellington run put the Cardinals offense back again into field goal range. From 24 yards out Feely nailed it to put the game at 10-3.
However with the Cardinals on the board the defense started to bend allowing the Bengals to drive down the field on a few big plays in the air and decent runs from Bengals 2nd round running back Jeremy Hill. 12 plays and 63 yards later the Bengals stretched the lead from 7-3 to 10-3 Bengals.
The rest of the quarter was more inept play from Palmer and the Cardinals offense and the defense giving up another field goal on a long drive. 13-3 Bengals
The third quarter started as Bruce Arians said it would, with the second team unit taking the field under the guidance of Drew Stanton. The first drive sputtered, kept alive with a few long third down completions to John Brown and Brittan Golden but not ending in points.
From there on it started to get better. The second team unit offense started to find their stride with a nice drive leading to a Chandler Catanzaro field goal making the game 13-6 Bengals. The drive must have helped the defense get a breather as they came out and snuffed the Bengals second team offense for -2 yards on three plays.
The offense starting with good field position and only needed two plays the ensuing offensive series to tie the game. A big pass interference call on a Bengals DB gave the Cardinals great field position and John Brown made them pay with a beautiful, diving catch in the end-zone. This pulled the game to 16-16 Cardinals.
Logan Thomas started the fourth quarter for the Cardinals and was mostly ineffective outside of one frozen rope of a pass to Golden. And the defense was slowly chipped away at by the Bengals offense. It appeared to me that the Todd Bowles decided to see how the end of his roster handled man-to-man coverage as the defense seemed to be very simplified and left the Cardinals vulnerable at times.
The Bengals ran the ball down the second unit’s throat and the game ended. Feeling it was all anticlimactic? Well, it was.
The third preseason game is a tease and left me with more questions than answers. Much like teases do, this game will leave you with much to talk about.
Deone Bucannon had a good game. I didn’t see him in coverage much, which may be a good thing, but I did see him in the run game laying some big hits and generally looking like a heat seeking missile. Hopefully this is a thing to come.
Larry Fitzgerald looked his old form tonight. If he would have played all game he would have easily topped 100 yards and maybe much more.
Andre Ellington is still dangerous. With more carries his YPC was lowered to an earth level 5.1. He was ineffective on the interior runs but was solid when the field was stretched, breaking off one typical Ellington like 24 yard scamper.
Darren Fells could be a very good wide receiving TE. He has good hands but concentration problems as shown by his dropped pass. He made up for it with three receptions for 47 yards.
Patrick Peterson was up and down. Green made some nice cuts on two ten yard outs and on a skinny post but was unable to do much more. Peterson struggled with Green’s hard cuts on his out routes but was all over him everywhere else on the field.
The starting run defense looks like it will still be a top unit.
Overall the offense had plenty of opportunity. It would have been a much different ball game had Palmer not had a poor night. While that is troubling, at least we can reconcile ourselves with the fact that pretty much everyone else looked good.