For the first time since 2015, the Arizona Cardinals have won three consecutive games. This time, however, they are during the majority of their damage on the road.
Following their 27-21 victory over the hapless New York Giants, the Kingsbury led Cardinals are an impressive 2-1 on the east coast in 2019.
The suddenly vaunted Arizona Cardinal offense was semi compromised in the air thanks to some shoddy weather conditions but the unit more than made up for it on the ground.
Second year running back Chase Edmonds, handling the workload with David Johnson nursing a sore ankle, tallied 126 yards on 27 carries to lead the team. Add in 24 yards receiving, and the rising star player totaled 150 yards as well as three touchdowns.
All three scores were of 20+ yards (20, 20, 22).
The Cardinals jumped out to an early 17-0 nothing lead on the Giants but quickly saw their hard work erased to begin the second quarter. Giants quarterback Daniel Jones, following a first quarter INT to LB Jordan Hicks, responded with a 79 yard drive that cumulated with a 28 yards TD pass to Rhett Ellison.
Following a three-an-out by Arizona, Andy Lee would see his end zone punt blocked and recovered by the G-Men.
Suddenly it was a three-point game.
Both teams would continue trading scores until late in the fourth quarter, when the returning Patrick Peterson forced a fumble on Daniel Jones with LB Haason Reddick recovering. A field goal would make it 27-21 with roughly two minutes remaining.
There would be no Daniel Jones heroics this time, as the rookie was sacked twice on his team’s final possession, which ended on his own four-yard line.
The Cardinals move to 3-3-1 following their 0-3-1 start.
Game Ball: Chase Edmonds
David Johnson’s availability for this week’s contest was quickly put to bed last night when ESPN’s Adam Schefter tweeted that Johnson would be active for Sunday’s contest against the Giants.
Following a first possession carry for a mere two yards, however, it was the Chase Edmonds show on Sunday.
The former fourth rounder put on a clinic of lateral quickness and downfield running as his explosion has been superior of that of Johnson’s all season. In fact, Edmonds had as many 20+ yard rush TDs Sunday (3) then David Johnson has for his CAREER.
The question will now turn to who will take the majority of carriers moving forward once Johnson is ready to return (he was reportedly only active in case of emergency).
My guess is Kingsbury will continue implementing plenty of two-back sets to keep both men happy with Edmonds taking the majority of outside RPOs moving forward.
Johnson remains invaluable in the passing game thanks to his elite level receiving skills.
Game Ball: Chandler Jones
The Cardinal defense, as a whole, played their most complete game of the season Sunday but it was spearheaded by the ever-underrated Jones. His four sacks tallied were the most by the former Syracuse Orange since 2015 with the New England Patriots.
Chandler Jones harassed Daniel Jones for four quarters, never allowing the rookie to completely settle in without the fear of edge pressure.
These are the kinds of efforts needed from Jones if the Cardinals are going to hang defensively for the remainder of the season.
Game Ball: Corey Peters
The big man got after it Sunday against the Giants underrated interior offensive line. Netting four tackles, which included a (sexy) sack, the Cardinal defensive line dictated the majority of the game’s tempo. Franchise rusher, Saquon Barkley (returning from injury), was held to a mediocre 72 yards on 18 carries thanks to Peterson’s ability to penetrate at the point of attack.
His play also allowed for both Hicks and Haason Reddick to fill, as both ILBs rebounded from poor showings a week ago.
Game Ball: Arizona Offensive Line
Another week, another significant development from the Cardinal offensive line, this time in the running game. Sure, they gave up two sacks (one of which was on Murray) but you can handle some pressure if you’re generating huge holes for the Cardinals suddenly top 10 rushing attack.
Justin Pugh and JR Sweezy played perhaps their best games of the season, consistently pushing around the likes of Dexter Lawrence and Dalvin Tomlinson to make room for the shifty Edmonds.
Pugh’s increased level of play in recent weeks is obviously welcomed considering his $7.35 million dollar cap hit.
Needs Work: Cardinal Special Teams
What has happened to this unit? Following an early start to the season in which the Arizona Cardinal’s special teams looked like an absolute strength, you could make an argument that they have consistently gotten worse over the course of the last month.
In fact, if not for the play of Edmonds and the defense, this unit could have cost the Cardinals the game on Sunday.
It wasn’t just the egregious blocked punt to give New York renewed hope, but prior to, return man Pharoh Cooper mishandled a punt return that backed the Cardinals up.
Sure, Zane Gonzalez was a perfect 2-2 on field goals for the afternoon but outside of the local product, every other unit was a liability on Sunday.
- For the first time all season, Kyler Murray was held under 200 yards passing (104). In fact, Murray’s attempts (21) were by far his lowest on the season but much of that was due to a noticeable amount of rain pouring down on both teams. It was obvious Kingsbury would rather ride his productive grown game rather than risk a potential turnover thanks to inclement weather. Thankfully for him, his conservative approach (especially in the second half) paid off with a win.
- This was also the first game of the season in which Murray did not produce an offensive touchdown (rushing or receiving).
- The Cardinal defense allowed a mere 14 points, while forcing three fumbles and an INT.
- In fact, Jordan Hick’s first quarter interception was Arizona’s first of 2019.
- Arizona is an astounding 3-0 without Christian Kirk this season; 1-0 without David Johnson. Remarkable.
- Left tackle D.J. Humphries suffered two more holding penalties on Sunday (one of which was questionable), both coming in the run game.
- Budda Baker was noticeably in position to make a play on Daniel Jones’ touchdown pass to Rhett Ellison but failed to do so. The former second rounder once again looked rough as the team’s “centerfield” safety, playing much more confident toward the LOS. It’s safe to say a rangy, ball hawking safety will be high on the team’s list of priorities come this off season.
- Say what you want about Steve Keim, but his fourth round selection of Chase Emonds in the 2018 NFL Draft looks like an absolute steal. He and Kirk (2nd round) could save that once dismal class.
- Former Arizona Cardinals Markus Golden (5 tackles, 1TFL), Olsen Pierre (sack) and Elijhaa Penny (blocked punt TD) all had big days against their former team.
- Sunday marked the third consecutive game in which Kyler Murray and the Arizona Cardinals did not turned the ball over. They are, of course, 3-0 during that span.
- Rookie receiver Andy Isabella finally hauled in his first (and second) receptions of the season Sunday, tallying eight yards in the process.
- At the posting of this article, the Arizona Cardinals own the 17th pick in next April’s NFL Draft.