The Arizona Cardinals planned on including rookie receiver John Brown more in their Week 3 game against the San Francisco 49ers.
It turned out to be a good idea.
Brown caught four passes for 52 yards, but scored Arizona's two touchdowns, giving him three scores on the season.
"Coming out of the whole practice week, the gameplan was around me to try and ge the ball in my hands more, because a lot of people are looking at Larry (Fitzgerald) and Michael (Floyd)," Brown told the media after the game. "It just opened up big time, so I was just prepared for it."
It didn't hurt that Floyd had a big game, catching five passes for 114 yards.
Head coach Bruce Arians said "we felt like we could match (Brown) up on their safeties some, and he alluded them." That's exactly what happened.
The guy delivering those passes were backup quarterback Drew Stanton. Stanton "was on fire again," according to head coach Bruce Arians.
Stanton was 18/33 for 244 yards and two touchdowns. He did not turn the ball over for the second game in a row.
He looked different on the field on Sunday than he did the previous week against the Giants. Arians agreed.
"Last week, I though the was in management mode -- don't lose it," he explained. "This one, I though he went to win. He took his shots down the field."
Stanton was asked about the comment from his head coach.
"I think it's a matter of feeling comfortable, too," he responded. "
He mentioned how the Giants' style of defense made it "hard to get chunks (of yards) against them." San Francisco played a style that Arizona likes facing more.
Of course, he made sure to add the time he hadn't played, as has been the narrative. "Everybody had well documented the fact that it had been 1100 days since I had been out there," he said. "You've got to shake off a little rust."
But it wasn't the play alone of Brown and Stanton. The team had to make adjustments and execute.
Offensively, they were doing fine in the first half. But they added the big play in the second half.
Defensively, it was a struggle in the first half.
Colin Kaepernick was killing them. He was 14/18 for 114 yards in the first half. He also scrambled for 45 yards on nine carries. The defense had no answer for him.
They made adjustments. He would gain only nine more yards rushing in the second half. They held San Francisco to 1/6 on third down, after allowing them to convert on 5/7 attempts in the first half.
What were those adjustments?
"Well the big thing defensively was to pick up the tempo as far as what they were doing to us.," he said. "Seeing all those four and five wides, no huddle, getting somebody assigned to Colin on the scrambles and going after him -- go after him, but go after him smart -- get up a little further on their receivers and go to the heavy package of bringing those linemen that were going to be able to stop the run effectively."
The Niners "hadn't shown that before" on offense with the spread formations and no huddle, according to Colin Kaepernick.
Defensive coordinator Todd Bowles downplayed the adjustments. He called them "minor adjustments."
"We just made more plays than they did," he said. "In the first half they made more plays than we did."
Arizona outscored the Niners 17-0 in the second half. On the season, Arizona has had to come back from a deficit to win. They have not allowed a point in the fourth quarter yet this season.
Now they enter the bye 3-0. They faced adversity and overcame it. They made plays on offense. They turned things around on defense. They made plays on special teams, blocking a field goal.
It was, as Arians said, "an amazing team victory."
- Cornerback Antonio Cromartie injured his left knee during the game. Arians said it was a previously surgically repaired knee. They don't know what they are looking at yet. Cromartie tweeted after the game he is fine and will be ready to go for the game in Denver.
- Tyrann Mathieu saw more playing time against San Fran. There were a couple of plays where he was a seventh DB like last week. However, in other snaps, he came in replacing Tony Jefferson at safety. Arians though Mathieu was "apprehensive" in his play. He ended up with six tackles.
- Andre Ellington carried the ball a career-high 18 times. When he carries the ball at least 10 times, the Cardinals are now 8-1.
- Dan Williams played a lot more, getting many looks in nickel and dime formations. He has only really ever played in base packages.
- There were probably a half dozen plays where Colin Kaepernick could have been sacked but got away. The only sack by the Cardinals was by Tony Jefferson. Of the three sacks the Cardinals have on the season, two come from safeties. Rashad Johnson had a sack against the Giants.
- Rookie kicker Chandler Catanzaro connected on three field goals without a miss, including a 51-yarder. He is perfect on the season, going 9/9 so far.