Coming off two very bad losses, the Cardinals desperately needed to win. And thanks to their most recognizable players, they did just that. We take a look at who deserves the game ball in this week's Player of the Game poll.
1) David Johnson
The Cardinals season MVP was at his finest on Sunday. Already, many around the country are touting him as a potential MVP candidate. His own teammates seem to think highly of him. Just look at what Tyrann Mathieu tweeted after the game:
What did DJ do to garner such high praise? Well, to start, he was the leading receiver and rusher for both teams. On the ground, DJ rushed 18 times for 84 yards, including a 1 yard touchdown mid-way through the 1st quarter. And as a receiver, he brought in 9 receptions for 91 yards and another score, this time a 25 yard catch-and-run in the 4th quarter. This also happened to be DJ's 12th game in a row with 100+ scrimmage yards, a feat last accomplished by Edgerrin James in 2005. He's now only four games away from making history as the first NFL player to ever record at least 100 yards from scrimmage in all 16 games in a season.
2) Carson Palmer
Palmer is the second most sacked quarterback this season. The O-line protected him no better than usual against the Redskins, as he was sacked twice, hit countless times, and forced to drop back on what seemed like every other play. So with that in consideration, Palmer's performance seems even more impressive. He completed 30 of 46 passes for 300 yards and three touchdowns (the Michael Floyd and J.J. Nelson touchdowns were beautiful). But more importantly, Palmer didn't have any turnovers. This is the type of play that made him an MVP candidate last season, and this is the type of play that gets a team to the playoffs.
3) Larry Fitzgerald
Fitz continued to solidify his Hall of Fame campaign. Not only did he pass Andre Johnson to enter the Top 10 all-time receiving list, but he also hurdled over Cris Carter and Marvin Harrison into third place on the all-time receptions list. He is now only behind Jerry Rice and Tony Gonzalez (#1 and #2 respectively). Fitz accomplished this by bringing in 10 receptions for 78 yards.
In a season where the receiving corps have largely disappointed, it's nice to have someone like Fitz to depend on. I'm sure Palmer definitely appreciates him.
4) Patrick Peterson
The Cardinals secondary didn't have a stellar game. WR Pierre Garcon was allowed 78 yards, and Kirk Cousins did pass for 271 yards. However, after going back and watching the highlights, I didn't notice any glaring mistakes from Peterson. In fact, none of the big throws completed by Cousins were the fault of Peterson. It was almost always CB Marcus Cooper or S Tyvon Branch who had blown their coverage.
Peterson shut down his receivers all night, but his biggest contribution of the game was at the very end, when he intercepted Cousins at the Cardinals 18 yard line. This sealed the game with 44 seconds left, ensuring the Cardinals live on another week.
5) Calais Campbell
Another Cardinals staple, another great performance. Campbell, who has been quiet for parts of the season, roared to life at just the right time. Along with his three solo tackles, Campbell sacked Cousins in the 3rd quarter, stripping the ball in the process. LB Markus Golden proceeded to pick it up and take it deep into the red zone, and Palmer immediately took advantage of this gift, finding Floyd for 6 points.
Who do you think deserves the Player of the Game title? Vote in the poll below, or leave a comment if you feel someone has been left off the list.