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Week 11 Positives and Game Balls for Cardinals

The Cardinals turned in a number of impressive performances versus the Texans, cast your votes for Week 11 game balls

NFL: Arizona Cardinals at Houston Texans Thomas Shea-USA TODAY Sports

While it was a frustrating 21-16 loss for the Cardinals versus the Texans, the team manifested a number of impressive plays and performances. Let’s revel in a few of them today.

Plays:

Love the way the left side of the Cardinals’ offensive line caved in the left edge to create a crystal clear passing lane for Kyler Murray, who threw an absolute dime to Trey McBride right off of his break.

Kudos to PJJ for his consistent pass pro versus Will Anderson.

Kyler Murray was absolutely sensational on both of the Cardinals’ TDs. His “inside-out” deke that enables him to beat defenders to the pylon is about as good as it gets. And as I mentioned on Red Rain, this 9-route gem from Kyler to Rondale Moore is just like the one he threw to Christian Kirk in Jacksonville in 2021 —- a perfect “drop in the bucket,” as they say.

While this was Greg Dortch’s scintillating punt return in Week 10, it’s worthy of another look from the sky cam! Dortch finally got his chance in Week 11 to play an extended number of snaps on offense and brought home these team leading receiving numbers:

6 receptions for 76 yards, for a 12.7 ypc average and a long of 31.

PFF Grade: 77.1 (highest Week 11 grade on the offense)

More of the same type of 9-10 yard runs this week from James Conner:

14 carries, 62 yards, 4.4 ypc.

Twin set of Jalen Thompson 2nd half tone setters —- arguably the two most significant defensive plays and momentum changers in the game.

Look what JT started! Interception #2 on the day, this one with the help of a deflected pass (created by Marco Wilson’s tight coverage on the dig route) into the arms of ILB Krys Barnes who takes off like a runaway freight train.

Interception #3 Antonio Hamilton Jr. who, at this point in the game, is, like the Cardinals’ 2nd half defense, en fuego!

Sad to see Ham pop a groin on his interception and to hear that Leki Fotu, who was having perhaps the best game of his 4 year career, as a result of plays like this sack, broke a bone in his hand (which, with a cast, may not prevent him from playing this week).

One of the more unheralded of the Cardinals’ assistant coaches this season has to be defensive line coach Derrick LeBlanc (pictured here):

Performances:

Look at what Derrick LeBlanc was able to inspire from his makeshift defensive line versus the Texans:

  • Roy Lopez: 5 tackles, 3 solo, 1 QB hit, PFF game grade: 80.1
  • Leki Fotu: 4 tackles, 4 solo, 1 sack, 2 TFLs, 1 QB hit, PFF game grade: 80.8
  • Dante Sills: 4 tackles, 2 solo, 1 sack, 1 TFL, 1 QB hit, PFF game grade: 71.3
  • Phil Hoskins (elevated from PS): 4 tackles, 2 solo, PFF game grade: 74.0
  • Keving Strong: 2 tackles, PFF game grade 37.1.

Top 5 Pass Coverage Grades for Cardinals’ Secondary:

  • 77.0 —- Antonio Hamilton Jr.
  • 75.6 —- Jalen Thompson
  • 69.1 —- Starling Thomas V
  • 65.5 —- Garrett Williams
  • 60.5 —- Budda Baker

Top 5 PFF Game Grades:

Offense:

  • 77.1 —- WR Greg Dortch
  • 67.2 —- RB Tony Jones, Jr.
  • 66.0 —- RB James Conner
  • 64.9 —- TE Trey McBride
  • 64.4 —- WR Rondale Moore

Defense:

  • 88.4 —- ILB Krys Barnes
  • 80.8 —- DT Leki Fotu
  • 80.1 —- DT Roy Lopez
  • 75.9 —- OLB Dennis Gardeck
  • 74.0 —- DT Phil Hoskins

Special Teams:

  • 74.7 —- Dennis Gardeck
  • 68.9 —-- Owen Pappoe
  • 61.8 —- Elijah Higgins
  • 61.6—- Victor Dimukeje
  • 60.9 —- Cameron Thomas

Specialists:

  • K Matt Prater: 1/1 FGs, 1 (long of 57), 1/1 XPT
  • P Blake Gillikin: 2 punts for 107 yds., 53.5 ave,

Week 11 Game Balls:

Poll

What special teams’ player deserves the Week 11 game ball?

This poll is closed

  • 55%
    Dennis Gardeck
    (58 votes)
  • 7%
    Blake Gillikin
    (8 votes)
  • 5%
    Owen Pappoe
    (6 votes)
  • 31%
    Matt Prater
    (33 votes)
105 votes total Vote Now

Poll

What offensive player deserves the Week 11 game ball?

This poll is closed

  • 14%
    James Conner
    (19 votes)
  • 70%
    Greg Dortch
    (89 votes)
  • 7%
    Trey McBride
    (9 votes)
  • 1%
    Rondale Moore
    (2 votes)
  • 6%
    Kyler Murray
    (8 votes)
127 votes total Vote Now

Poll

What defensive player deserves the Week 11 game ball?

This poll is closed

  • 15%
    Krys Barnes
    (19 votes)
  • 2%
    Roy Lopez
    (3 votes)
  • 14%
    Leki Fotu
    (18 votes)
  • 3%
    Dennis Gardeck
    (4 votes)
  • 63%
    Jalen Thompson
    (77 votes)
121 votes total Vote Now

Special thanks to Nate Tice, Mac, PHNX Cardinals, NFL, Arizona Cardinals, Cardenales de Arizona, Paul Calvisi, Pro Football Focus, ESPN for your excellent coverage of the Cardinals.

ROTB question: which of the positives listed above impressed you the most? Were there other positives worth mentioning?