In the early game the Arizona Cardinals played against a depleted Chicago Bears team in Soldier Stadium. As the Cardinals play their first road game of the season, the game holds importance for the team to show they can win on the road and during the early game. Something that was a big problem for the Cardinals in the past. Also with week two your author gets more into game shape and wrote a smaller article this week. Though not by much as this weeks game was filled with scoring, wacky plays and face-to-palm moments.
The Cardinals offense came out to play against the Bears scoring 28 points with Palmer looking on point all game besides one beautiful play by Jared Allen. Can't really fault Palmer for a play like that. The run game was
mediocre most of the game until the fourth with Chris Johnson getting the bulk of the carries but with David Johnson showing his future potential on a nice TD run.
However there are some concerns with the defense as Cutler was killing the defense without Alshon Jeffery in the lineup. If not for being injured on an interception Cutler had thrown the game likely would have been much closer. With Cutler injured late in the second Clausen stepped in and did basically nothing.
The Cardinals pretty much dominated the game outside of a fumbled punt and the aforementioned Jared Allen interception. The defense held with Clausen at the reigns and the Cardinals quickly turned the game into a rout the second half.
The game couldn't have started better for the Arizona Cardinals. On the opening kickoff the rookie phenom David Johnson took the opening kickoff 108 yards for a B-E-A-utiful return touch down! For those not keeping track at home, that's 3 touches and 2 touchdowns this season for DJ. I hope this trend continues!
With the Cardinals scoring on their opening possession the Bears started the game fast, rushing to the line and hitting Zach Miller for 8 years. The catch was Zach's first since coming back from injuries two years ago. The Bears followed up with an easy first down run to Matt Forte. The defense stepped up quickly but we're taken advantage of when the Bears spread the field five wide and got Marcellus Bennett matched up against Kevin Minter who was in good position but didn't make the adjustment on Jay Culter's pass and was called for PI.
The defense responded with fire and quickly snuffed out the Bears defense the next three plays, one of them a screen pass that Calais Campbell and Tony Jefferson were all over.
The Cardinals started with the ball on their 20 yard line and began their drive with a handoff to Chris Johnson who took it for a nice gain and looked good on his first run. David Johnson got his carry and didn't score a TD or even gain a yard, guess he is human. Carson Palmer started off looking sharp with connections to Jaron Brown and Jermain Gresham but the drive stalled and a 3rd and fifth inside handoff to Kerwynn Williams wasn't enough forcing the Cardinals to punt.
On the Bears second drive they slowed down their pace, taking every second on the clock they could. The strategy appeared to be to help Cutler see who was were for the Cardinals in hopes to get the best matchups. On third and short Jay Cutler squirted out of the pocket and the safety covering Forte bailed to stop him, Cutler than threw to a wide open Forte who took it 27 yards. Come on guys!
The next play stung as the coverage broke down and two guys went to cover the flat leaving Joshua Bellamy wide open for an easy 48 yard TD. Breakdowns like last week and this week make you wonder if it's defensive coordinator Bettcher or if the guys are just playing too aggressive. After the last few years I feel Bettcher is experiencing some growing pains and the defense isn't communicating like it did last year.
With the offense coming back out after a short kick the Cardinals started with good field position. The Cardinals run game started to stall but a contested third down pass to John Brown got the drive going again. Originally the call was Brown was out-of-bounds but Bruce Arians challenged the call and was rewarded with an overturned call and a first down. The momentum from Brown continued as Brown broke loose deep down the right side, Palmer took the shot and the CB Kyle Fuller couldn't do anything but interfere with the catch giving the Cardinals the ball deep in the Bears territory.
After a five yard run by Chris Johnson the Cardinals ran a beautiful play that had the commentators drooling. Jaron Brown faked a run block and slipped inside. Jerad Veldheer slipped his guy, blocking an LB and creating an inside screen to Brown who took it the last five yards for a diving TD. Play calls like show the brilliance of Bruce Arians and make football the game it is.
All of this in just one quarter. What a game so far.
Arizona 14 Bears 7
To start the second quarter the Cardinals defense seemed to have forgotten how to play. The Bears turned to Jay Cutler's legs to get the ball moving with a read-option to end the quarter and a eight yard scramble to start the second quarter. The defense continued looking bad giving up decent runs and passes to the Bears allowing them to churn yards right into the Cardinals territory without Forte on the field most of the drive.
With the pass rush failing Jay Culter was able to hit Bennett for a big 21 yard gain putting the ball on the Cardinals 1 yard line. Jeremy Langford was able to easily punch the ball in for the one yard TD run. Where is the Cardinals defense we are used to?! With no Alshon Jeffery or Forte (for that drive) the Cardinals defense looked like something fans haven't seen in several years.
The Cardinals offense came out continuing to look sharp getting an easy first down. An OPI by Michael Floyd almost ended the drive up Palmer saved it by shrugging off a would be sacker and making a sweet throw to John Brown for a big first down and continuing the drive. And then John Brown continued to dominate the Bear's secondary blowing by the Bears CB and again forcing a DEEP pass interference, setting up the Cardinals on the Bears 16 yard line.
The Cardinals offense could not be stopped as a few runs later Palmer hit Larry Fitzgerald for his first TD of the season on a eight yard slant! Larry, you my boy blue!
With the defense back on the field, they need to step up and remind the Bears why the Cardinals are a Super Bowl contender. And as your author was writing that statement Tony Jefferson just caught a bad pass off Bennett's hands for a 26 yard TD! AND not only did Jefferson return it, he laid a NASTY stiff arm on Cutler on his way to the end zone which sent Cutler to the locker room.
While I loved the play, I hope that Cutler wasn't seriously injured as no true fan ever wants guys to get hurt. Even Seahawk players.
With that said, paging Jimmy Clausen.
With Clausen at the helm the Cardinals defensed keyed up and outside of one first down run the defense swarmed the Bears now basically inept offense. Forcing the punt it appeared the Cardinals would have a chance to score again... until rookie J.J. Nelson fumbled the return giving the Bears the ball on the Cardinals 22 yard line.
The defense said "no worries bruh, we got you" with back-to-back pass blocks by the Cardinals defensive line. Clausen's third pass actually passed the line of scrimmage only to be very inaccurate and force the Bears into an easy FG chip shot.
Cardinals got the ball with 55 seconds left in the half. But they gave it right back after a beautiful interception by Jared Allen who tipped the pass AND caught it. Palmer's first INT of the season on an incredible effort by Allen. Hard to be pissed but still it's frustrating.
With ball deep in Cardinals territory the defense continued to be frustrating. The defense would make plays but mess it all up with a penalty. After two good stops on third, the defense jumped offside to give the Bears a third and inches on the Cardinals three yard line. But despite the penalties the defense stepped up again with another great play by Tony Jefferson tackling Forte in the backfield and holding the Bears to a chip shot field goal.
Cardinals 24 Bears 20
Second Half Stats
Carson Palmer: 9/12 78 yards 2 TD, 1 INT
Chris Johnson: 7 carries, 25 yards
John Brown: 3 receptions, 35 yards and two BIG forced penalties
Jaron Brown: 2 receptions, 20 yards 1 TD
Larry Fitzgerald: 2 receptions, 15 yards 1 TD
While the run defense hasn't been fantastic it has allowed 81 yards on 21 carries for a meagre 3.86 YPC.
So far the defense has zero sacks, 3 TFLs and 3 PDs and one INT TD!
Starting the third quarter the fans can only hope that the defense can stifle a Clausen led offense. And thankfully the defense responded with Josh Mauro forcing the first sack of the entire game. The following play Patrick Peterson picked off Clausen for his first INT of the season, setting up the Cardinals in GREAT field position!
And it only took one play for the Cardinals the capitalize on the Bears mistake. Arians called a flea-flicker to Fitzgerald who made a beautiful over the shoulder catch while being heavily interfered with. A penalty on the play made me cringe as a Bears player took a low shot on Palmer's knee. Palmer hopped up no problem and everyone was happy.
What a wacky day.
With the defense back on the field they quickly dismissed the Bears offense into a three and out. After Nelson's fumbled punt, Peterson was sent back to return and had a decent return to put the Cardinals into strong field position.
From there it became the Fitzgerald and Johnson show, with Larry catching two big passes and the moving the Cardinals deep into the Bear territory and Chris Johnson picking up 11 yards on three carries to edge them closer to the end zone. David Johnson then cleaned it up with a pitch to the left, a stiff arm and an easy rumble into the end zone to all but end the game.
With game seeming out of reach the Cardinals defense seemed to soften up allowing Clausen to complete a first down pass and then letting Forte out for a big run of 27 yards giving him 60 yards on the day on 14 carries. Frostee Rucker decided enough was enough and blasted into the backfield for a strip sack on a potential run play. Clausen was trying to hand off the ball but Rucker was back there so fast he stripped Clausen before it happened. Too bad it wasn't picked up by a Cardinal. Thankfully that play pushed the Bears back as their offense was started to look good with several big runs that got the Bears into Robbie Gould field goal range as he hit a 51 yarder.
The defense continued to own the now completely inept Bears offense. The only strange thing is that Palmer was still in to start the fourth. Arians mostly turned to the run game which started to pick up efficiency. David Johnson's 14 yard run in the fourth brought the teams total to over 100. With the Bears defense on the ropes, the Cardinals just him them with a heavy dose of Johnson and Johnson. The Bears were able to stop the Cardinals after some pressure forced Palmer into a bad throw and a short pass to John Brown wasn't enough to get a first.
While I was editing this article to publish Arians decided to continue hammering the Bears by keeping the first team offense on the field. They methodically ran and passed the ball down the Bear's throats, even going for it on fourth down to Fitzgerald. I think Arians must have started Larry Fitzgerald today on his fantasy team as he called number 11 again as he dialed up a play in which Larry was able to rumble his way nine yards for his THIRD TD of the game.
Remember when everyone though Larry was done? Nope.
Crazy stat of the day? Palmer completed 17 of his 24 passes of only 185 yards. It looked like he passed for 300 but the two PIs caused by John Brown gave the Cardinals a lot of yards.
Cardinals 48 Bears 23
Palmer 17/24, 185 yards 4 TDs and 1 INT
C. Johnson 20 carries, 72 yards
D. Johnson 5 carries, 42 yards 1 TD
Fitzgerald 8 receptions, 112 yards 3 TDs
John Brown 5 receptions, 45 yards
Jaron Brown 2 receptions, 20 yards 1 TD
The defense ended with 2 sacks, one by Josh Mauro and the other by the Markus Golden. Tony Jefferson had an INT for a TD and Peterson also had an INT. The rush defense wasn't spectacular but did well enough against a formidable running back in Matt Forte giving up a total of 109 yards on 28 carries, a 3.9 YPC.
The DMVP has to be Tony Jefferson with nine solo tackles, 1 TFL, 1 PD and 1 INT TD. That's one hell of a day.,
The OMVP is David Johnson, while Larry had an amazing day the rookie returned a kick and ran in a TD. Seven touches and two TDs.
What a day!