Coming off of their first loss of the season after a series of unexpected injuries, the Cardinals squared up to face Kirk Cousins and the Washington Redskins. Carson Palmer got the start for the first time since week one against the New York Giants. It looked as though Arians had made the correct decision as Palmer had a great game. Cousins struggled early and could not seem to really kick his offense into gear. Defense may win Championships, but you still need an offense to win a game (2006 Chicago Bears). They finished with the defense rush as Rashad Johnson intercepted Kirk Cousins for a 26-yard pick-six - capping off a Cardinals 30-20 victory in University of Phoenix Stadium.
What went right: The question lingered all week about the starting quarterback, but Palmer did not disappoint Arians. He went 28/44 with 250 yards and two touchdowns. Palmer got his team started fast and gave the defense the cushion they needed. With Palmer going right - so did his receiving core, specifically Fitz (98 yayds) and Floyd (47 yards) as they scored both Cardinal touchdowns. After the game against Denver where it seemed the Larry Fitz era was on the decline - he said "Not just yet." Our run defense held Alfred Morris to 47 yards on 13 attempts, which forced Cousins to put the ball in the air much more than he would have liked - which bring us to the next thing that went right - interceptions, 3 to be exact. Turnovers helped the Cards score lots of field goals by Chandler Catanzaro, staying on his perfect streak at 14 in a row. Andre Ellington also had a nice game with 67 yards from scrimmage.
What went wrong: Penalties. 14 penalties for 108 yards held the Cardinals back. Arians later said in an interview that he saw 40 mental mistakes split evenly between the offense and defense. Sloppy ball rarely wins games. Cousins connected with DeSean Jackson on a blown coverage by the safety for a monster 64-yard touchdown pass that got into the heads of the defense. If they were playing a team that was just a little better, this one could have turned out a lot differently. The Redskins had a total of 407 offensive yards because of broken tackles, which just goes back to sloppy ball for the Cards. The last thing that went wrong that seemed to happen in every game of the season: defending the tight end. Jordan Reed finished with 8 receptions for 82 yards.
What we learned: Mental errors and penalties can make even the worst teams come out victorious. Tyrann Mathieu had a terrific game and showed despite his knee problems, he still had it in him as he made 4 tackles, deflected a pass, put pressure on Cousins, and recovered a fumble. We also learned that stopping the run early helps us gain momentum and corners the opposing offense and despite missing Calais Campbell in this game, the Cards still came up huge on the ground leading to a defensive performance through the air. Lastly, and sadly, Carson Palmer looked to be just what the doctor ordered. Even a little rusty like he was in this game, he was good enough to make good decisions and make good throws and emerge victorious.