The Arizona Cardinals defeated the Philadelphia Eagles 40-17 on Sunday Night Football. They led from the opening drive. The win was the team's eighth straight and 12th for the season, setting a franchise record for regular season wins in a season. David Johnson had his coming out party. The Cards are the NFC West champs.
So what did we learn in the win?
Drops were a problem
Carson Palmer was throwing dimes and had great numbers, but he didn't get any help from his receivers. John Brown dropped three passes, including two that would have been touchdowns. The first was the very first play of the game when he had separation down the field and Palmer dropped the ball right between Brown's arms. Then the ball fell to the ground, going right between his arms. Brown dropped a pass in the end zone and yet another one later.
Michael Floyd dropped a pair of passes and J.J. Nelson got his hand on a throw in the end zone he perhaps could have hauled in. The Cardinals still dropped 40 points on the Eagles, but it could have been more if the receivers do their job. Palmer certainly did his.
David Johnson was a star
We saw some flashes early in the season, but with three starts under his belt, the rookie third rounder out of Northern Iowa looks like the real deal. He rushed for 99 and 92 yards in his two previous starts, but dominated the game on Sunday with 187 yards on 29 carries, scoring three times and catching four passes for 42 yards. He had a highlight 47-yard touchdown run that was a thing of beauty.
Cardinals again dominated the turnover battle
Arizona did not turn the ball over again and forced four Philly turnovers. It was the fourth straight game the Cardinals did not have a turnover. They have never done that in team history. Carson Palmer has now thrown 173 passes without an interception -- the longest stretch in his career.
Great on field goals, questionable on extra points
Chandler Catanzaro hit both his field goal attempts, but missed another extra point. He has missed four on the season. He has only missed two field goals all season.
Short kicks don't hurt
Catanzaro was not great on his kickoffs and punter Drew Butler averaged 39 yards on four punts. That's not great. However, as has been the case all year, it did not hurt the team. If the offense and defense continue to play this way, I suppose it won't matter much.
Football is scary when your team is good
The Cardinals got the win, but there were some scary moments in terms of injuries. David Johnson left the game before halftime with a knee injury. At the time, it didn't look good and that he might have to miss the rest of the game. He was able to return after halftime.
Carson Palmer hurt his finger and came out briefly, but considering his importance and seeing how Andy Dalton's season was all but ended recently and with the team losing Palmer last year, there was a little bit of fear.
There is still some nervousness in the Red Sea, as Tyrann Mathieu left the game with a knee injury. The way his teammates reacted as he left and the way Carson Palmer talked after the game, it felt like it was serious. We won't know more until Monday, but there is some optimism.
The Cardinals are champions, at least of the NFC West
They got no help from the Seahawks earlier, so to clinch the division title, it took a Cardinals win. They got it and are the 2015 NFC West champs. They get their shirt and hats.
There is still business to do
Even with the win, Arizona has one last thing left to take care of -- a first round playoff bye. Green Bay beat the Oakland Raiders, so the Cardinals still need one win or one Green Bay loss in the final two weeks to get the bye. With Green Bay coming to town next week, it gives the Cardinals one final thing to do to keep playing for. After that, Week 17 might be meaningless for both Seattle and Arizona.
The Cardinals are great
Everyone else can keep talking about the Seahawks and the Panthers. Arizona is just winning. They are beating playoff teams. They are winning on both sides of the ball. They keep winning. We can definitely say this is the best Cardinals team we have ever seen in Arizona.