The Arizona Cardinals continued their roll on offense on Sunday afternoon, but it was the defense that got the ball rolling. After a pair of interceptions returned for touchdowns by the Cardinals defense, the Cardinals rolled to a 47-7 win over the NFC West rival San Francisco 49ers.
So what did we learn in the win?
The defense was ready for the San Francsico passing game
Obviously, with four interceptions, this is an understatement. They held the Niners to a total of 53 passing yards (once sack yards were deducted). Colin Kaepernick was only 9/19 for 69 yards and four picks. Two of those picks were returned for touchdowns.
Apparently, it didn't take a lot of preparation to stop the passing attack. Tyrann Mathieu said "their passing game has simplified so much, it was easy for us to anticipate routes." Patrick Peterson also mentioned the Niners only run about five plays. Clearly, the San Francisco passing game is not all that complex.
This offense is electric
For the first time since 1969, the Cardinals scored at least 40 points in two consecutive games. Of course, the offense was helped again by the defense, who scored two touchdowns and a safety, but the offense score another four touchdowns. That is 13 in three games. Carson Palmer had over 300 passing yards. Larry Fitzgerald had 134 receiving yards and two touchdowns. Chris Johnson rushed for 110 yards and two scores. The team amassed 456 total yards of offense. They rushed for 139 yards.
The crazy thing is they don't even believe they have played well yet. "I don't think we've played our best football yet this season," said Larry Fitzgerald after the game. "We're winning, we're putting a lot of points up and it looks good on paper if you haven't been watching the games, but we're not clicking on all cylinders yet and that's scary to think about -- that we can can much better."
Is there a secret? Chris Johnson says "BA (Bruce Arians) has the secret."
Chris Johnson still has something to offer
He rushed 22 times for 110 yards and two touchdowns, and he was a guy without a team in training camp. How does that happen? Who knows?
Bruce Arians said Johnson "is getting into good football shape" three games into the season. The quickness is back, the explosiveness. Johnson likes being on a teams with so many weapons. As for supposed declining play, he cited he played all 2013 with a torn meniscus and last year he just didn't get the playing time.
In addition to the rushing yards, he also had a reception for 40 yards. He almost broke that one for a touchdown.
Call it a frenzy
Patrick Peterson described the many interceptions as a "frenzy." He said he has been part of a few -- twice against Matt Ryan and the Falcons and once against Matthew Stafford and the Lions a few years back. The sad part for him is that only one of those three games has he gotten a pick.
In this game, it is understandable. "After the first two interceptions, (the Niners) weren't going to try (throwing the ball towards Patrick Peterson," Arians said.
Two streaks end
Arizona did not have a third straight game without giving up a sack. Carson Palmer was sacked once and would have been sacked again had he not crossed the line of scrimmage. Three games in a row with no sacks allowed would have been a franchise first.
The team's red zone streak also ended. The had scored touchdowns in each of their first nine trips to the red zone this year. They had to settle on a field goal on the next one. Arians wants to start another streak. They got one started late in the game.
They could run the ball when the opponent knew they were going to
This is new. Late in the game, the Cardinals were trying to eat up clock and run the ball. They were successful at it. On their final scoring drive, they lined up with three tight ends and ran the ball 11 straight times. Once near the goalline, the Niners loaded up in the box and basically forced the Cardinals to throw the ball. It took two passes -- one incomplete pass and then a screen play to Larry Fitzgerald to get into the end zone.
David Johnson isn't magic
He didn't score a touchdown. Maybe he should be cut. However, he did show the ability to run the ball inside. He carried the ball seven times for 26 yards and also caught three passes for 16 yards. But he didn't score.
The Cardinals are really good...or are they?
Actually, we didn't really learn this. The team looked dominant again, but perhaps have dominated three bad football teams to jump out to a 3-0 start. Nonetheless, the way they have played makes you think they might be really good. So maybe it is both -- they are really good and the teams they have played are bad.