The Cardiac Cards at their finest eh? The Cardinals season opener was an emotional ride, but ultimately the Cardinals were able to pull it out with a late scoring drive, and a heart pounding defensive stop. Let's take a look at the highs and lows from Monday nights game.
Palmer struggled. He overthrew passes, made several wrong decisions that should have been intercepted, but he made the plays when the team needed him. Palmer finished the game with a stat line of 24/37, 2TD, and no interceptions. Add in 30 yards rushing, and Palmer had himself a very productive night.
Wow... That's all you can say about the third round pick out of Pittsburgh State. His stats may not be eye opening, 2 catches for 29 yards, but it's what he did with his second catch that shows why Arians and company love him. Needing a touchdown, Brown took a screen pass, and evaded defenders for 10 yards for the Cardinals game winning touchdown.
Ellington carried the ball 13 times for 53 yards. Nothing spectacular, but his ability to make defenders miss and make it to the second level was spectacular. You could tell his foot was bothering him at times, as he struggled to change directions on a few plays. But he was a big reason the Cardinals scored on two separate drives. He had an 18 yard scamper that would set up the Cardinals first touchdown, and a spectacular one handed grab that would set up the Cardinals game winning touchdown. With time, his foot will get better and we will see those electric cuts once again.
The secondary underperformed, slightly. There were several occasions where they were clearly beat, but with the lack of pressure in Rivers face for much of the night, the receivers managed to get open. In the first half, the secondary allowed only 80 passing yards, but struggled in the third quarter, before finding their footing in the fourth. With more pass rush, and a soon healthy Tyrann Mathieu, the secondary will look much the same.
Do not get me wrong, the Offensive line was not atrocious, but they did struggle. On the stat sheet, they look pretty good. Only two sacks in a huge step up from past season, but what was the problem was the pressure they allowed. On more than one occasion, the Chargers had Palmer in their hands quickly, but he squirmed out of the sack. Veldheer was beat on a handful of plays, and Bobby Massie allowed the strip sack. Three of the five linemen had false starts (Veldheer, Massie, Larsen). The run game looked good. They got good push, but the pass blocking was not up to par.
The team got the pass rush, that was not the problem. The real problem was ZERO sacks on the night. Calais Campbell, and Tommy Kelly stick out, as they were a half second away from a sack. This was the problem early on for Arizona last season, but Bowles was able to scheme up plays that got sacks.
Arizona sustained two big injuries on Monday. John Abraham suffered a concussion in the third quarter, so he will be out for at least a week, and Frostee Rucker went down with injury, but there's no word on what the injury is. Obviously, if Rucker is out for an extended period of time, that will be a big concern with Darnell Dockett already out for the year. Does Arizona re-sign Sopoaga?
Chandler Catanzaro was good. He kicked the ball off four times, and none were returned. He went 2/2 on field goals, converting from 22 and 44 yards out. It was the punt team however, that detracted from Catanzaro's good night. Newly acquired punter Drew Butler had decent hang time on his punts, averaging 32.1 yards per punt. It was however, how long he took to punt the ball. The Chargers were able to block one punt, and nearly got a few more as he took his time booting it. Obviously he's temporary, as the team hopes to get Dave Zastudil back for the Giants game, but Butler did not look too impressive monday night.
So what do you think? Anything or anyone you'd add to the list? Let me know in the comments!