The Cardinals, for what seemed like the 3rd week in a row, got off to a hot start.
A defensive play forcing a fumble and a touchdown to go up 7-0 has been the story the past few weeks...and yet Arizona lost all 3 of those games.
What we saw today instead was a team who took advantage of the opportunities their defense gave them and was willing to embrace the offensive philosophy Kliff Kingsbury adapted late in 2019.
Which was just what the doctor ordered.
In that regard, it was a return to basics. Was it free of concerns? No.
The team was able to drive down multiple times but wasn’t able to punch it into the endzone consistently or else it would have been a BLOWOUT.
And despite how good the Giants defense might be, it’s still not what you want to have the ball MULTIPLE times in the redzone and in Giant territory and kicking field goals or not punching it in from the one yard line was brutal and kept the Giants in it despite a subaverage day from their offense.
Kyler went from decisive to trusting his legs and holding onto the ball too long or running backwards on a possession that took the team out of field goal range.
But in a “must win game” the Cardinals played some of their best football of the season. And the fact it was against a bad team shouldn’t detract from that fact.
Ultimately the NFL is about one thing: winning.
Arizona didn’t get 30 points on the ground. They didn’t get 400 total yards of offense.
But they got the job done on the offensive and defensive side and played perhaps their most complete game of the season. They WON.
It’s been 3 weeks without that.
The offense did enough, the defense stuffed the Giants’ run game and explosive plays, and the special teams made kicks and set Arizona up with some solid returns from Christian Kirk.
They didn’t turn the ball over (despite two fumbles from Kenyan Drake) and the Giants gave up 6 sacks on the day and three fumbles, losing one to Arizona.
This team needed a win in the worst way and what was the root cause of it?
- Kliff adjusted his offense to feature more under center and some movement of Hopkins
- Andy Isabella wasn’t there to be seen (take that for what it’s worth) and Dan Arnold stepped up as the second receiver but even more integral to success was the targeting and moving around of Deandre Hopkins. His route tree will look a bit nicer this week, methinks
- The defense held up with solid coverage downfield but that all started with limiting the Giants on the ground and making Daniel Jones a one-dimensional quarterback.
- And while Kirk didn’t do a lot, he did a solid job setting Arizona up for success.
Ultimately this is the stat that matters:
Giants turnovers: 3
Cardinals turnovers: 0
Congrats to Haasan Reddick for taking advantage of the opportunity he was given in moving to edge. He now is the single game sack record holder for the Cardinals with 5 in this game.
REDDICK!!!!! pic.twitter.com/jHnSBR2Alh— Arizona Cardinals (@AZCardinals) December 13, 2020
Amazing game from him.
And now Arizona’s potentially heading into their last 3 games of the season in playoff contention against a rookie quarterback on a baaaad Eagles team.
The playoffs are open.
It’s up to this team for the taking. And Step One of that box was today, wasn’t it?
Consider it checked.