In West Virginia, Lions aftermath

Posted by Darren Urban on October 11, 2015 – 9:16 pm

You know how it is when you’re packing for a trip. There are just times when you forget to stuff something in the suitcase. That’s what happened to Carson Palmer on the way out to Detroit – forgot to put his knee brace in his bag. So for the first time since he hurt his knee last year, Palmer played without it Sunday in the easy win.

What’s the best way to make that work? Run the ball. And that’s exactly what the Cardinals did: 187 yards on the ground. I mean, there were only 25 rushing attempts, and three of those were Drew Stanton kneeldowns to end the game, but the Cardinals only went back to pass 20 times total anyway.

(That’s what happens when the offense is efficient and the defense gets turnovers for short fields; 45 offensive plays, compared to 89 for the Lions. Detroit threw 70 passes, for goodness sake.)

Palmer was efficient, knee brace or no. He was 11-for-14 for three touchdown passes. But that run game … the Cardinals were fairly sure Chris Johnson had something left but like this? He has 405 yards in five games, and that’s after barely playing the opener. Toss in Andre Ellington – who showed what he can do with his 63-yard touchdown romp – and the Cards are in better shape running the ball than … well, a long time. I’ve been covering this team since 2000, and it’s easily the best running game the Cardinals have had since then.

— The Cardinals have to hope the calf injury of Alex Okafor isn’t serious. They need him as a pass rusher. It’s eerie – when Okafor suffered a serious biceps injury in 2013 against the Saints, it was in the game that was the front end of the Cards’ week away from Arizona. Let’s hope it’s not a repeat. Sean Weatherspoon doesn’t play that spot, although Weatherspoon will need to play given Kenny Demens’ knee injury. Weatherspoon hasn’t played special teams. Does that change now, with Demens – who was very good on special teams – down?

— Fitz had his quietest day of the year, but he had five catches for 58 yards and his sixth touchdown. And the 26-yard catch he had to set up his own TD? What hands, what concentration.

— Tight end Darren Fells scored the first touchdown of the game for the Cardinals on a nice catch of his own. It has to be an emotional time for Fells, whose brother Daniel, a New York Giants tight end, is battling a bad staph infection in his foot. Fells said he’d rather not talk about the situation.

— Arians said defensive line coach Brentson Buckner recognized the Lions’ formation and was able to predict the screen pass that was intercepted – oh so nimbly – by defensive end Cory Redding. Arians later said it was really a lucky guess, when he was asked if the Lions’ plays were telegraphed.

— The gutsy bomb from the Cardinals’ own end zone from Palmer to Smokey Brown, which went for 49 yards, was pure Bruce Arians. Sometimes I think Arians loves taking deep shots from deep in his own end more than anything.

— Patrick Peterson, who is one of the guys who runs the players-only defensive meeting Fridays, said if he would have realized Redding had been drafted by the Lions and played his first six years in Detroit, he would have had Redding speak. “It was a big game for him,” Peterson said, and Redding punctuated it with his pick.

— It’s late here in West Virginia. The Cardinals, for the first time on these East Coast-stay-back-a-week trips, have won the first leg (Lost in Washington in 2008, lost in New Orleans in 2013.) There’s work ahead at The Greenbrier, and the Cardinals will try for the sweep in Pittsburgh.

In the meantime, stay tuned to We’re here all week, chronicling the stay.


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Posted in Blog | 29 Comments »

29 Responses to “In West Virginia, Lions aftermath”

  1. By AzCard1898 on Oct 11, 2015 | Reply

    Nice way to start a road trip.

    GO CARDS!!!

  2. By AzDesertRat1953 on Oct 11, 2015 | Reply

    So Far so Good.

    Darren will Carson get his knee brace by next Sunday, I hope

  3. By georgiebird on Oct 11, 2015 | Reply

    Congats to the Cards. The Detroit game was a trap game prior to going to Pittsburgh. Lions played well last week on the road (sloppy Seahawks had something to do with it) but Cards came back after spotting them seven.
    Chris Johnson is the team’s MVP to this point with CP a close 2nd.

  4. By Dr. G. on Oct 11, 2015 | Reply

    Darren… You are some serious trooper keeping everyone in the loop. Much grass….

  5. By MostlyRight on Oct 11, 2015 | Reply

    Casual fans back here in AZ starting to buzz. A sense something big is possible with this team, like we’ve had with a few Suns and DBacks teams. More than a Cardiac Cards or Cinderella team like the Plummer and Warner years. I hope they’re smelling it in VA too and getting hungrier and hungrier.

  6. By Steve on Oct 11, 2015 | Reply

    Great win!! Glad to see that we finally have the makings of a good running game with 3 good RB’s and a good offensive line that can run block. Darren, with Okafor out who

  7. By Steve on Oct 11, 2015 | Reply

    Sorry Darren…..with Okafor out, who steps in to take his starting spot and do you see both Riddick and Weatherspoon getting some playing time with Demens out?

  8. By Darren Urban on Oct 12, 2015 | Reply

    Steve —

    RE: LBs

    We will have to see. I’d think Golden gets to play more. Weatherspoon would figure to be active now, but again, because he hasn’t played special teams, what changes?

  9. By Red Dead Redemption on Oct 12, 2015 | Reply

    Not sure what to make of the Weatherspoon situation. On the one hand the guys in front of him are playing at a insane level. The Cardinals have been disappointed in Minter it felt like the last few years. No way they could have known he would be playing this great.

    On the other hand the Cardinals could be disappointed in Weatherspoon and the coaches may not think highly of him. My gut tells me BA is not really happy with him right now. He not be a fit for this organization. Just in the interview about playing time there was a hint of resentment when his name was brought up – ever so slight.

    Regardless I think Sean is the type of man to take this personally and use that energy to play well on the field. Playing for a contract next year as well (for another team). Wanting to prove yourself and making sure you get a nice paycheck next is a great motivation.

    Can’t wait for Sunday when the Cardinals beat the *illegal block in the back on the Harrison Super Bowl run * Steelers. 27-13

  10. By Jon Elder on Oct 12, 2015 | Reply

    I love the fact that Carson forgot the knee brace. His preparation is meticulous, if he’s not even worried about his knee enough to throw his brace in his bag that is a great sign of things to come! Go Cards!!!!

  11. By rod on Oct 12, 2015 | Reply

    Some people don’t like BAs play calling, I love it. Even when it doesn’t work, he’s going for it baby!~! I like it.

    Nice “blow-out” win 🙂

  12. By dan on Oct 12, 2015 | Reply

    Now the Steelers travel to San Diego for Monday Night and they have to fly back to Pittsburgh for a short week of practice……..GO CARDS!

  13. By Dr H on Oct 12, 2015 | Reply

    Whaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaat! Mail Carson his brace!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  14. By LadyBird04 on Oct 12, 2015 | Reply

    Prayers go to Darren Fells’ brother Daniel. It’s a nasty infection – hope they can get it under control and get him back on his “feet” quickly. Get well soon!

  15. By joe Holst on Oct 12, 2015 | Reply

    Is it beneficial for them to stay there? I think they should have flown home and been and been in there own homes. Also I think they should change/remove the stat of allowing the QB kneeling to effect the AVG rushing yards per carry for the team. It should have a separate category. Agree anyone?

  16. By jeffcardinalfan on Oct 12, 2015 | Reply

    its always great to win on the road….I wud imagine the missing knee brace prompted ba to pull carson…

    running game…the long runs r great but we r not a power running team…historically in the nfl teams with a power back who cud always get 4 yards have fared better than teams with cj/ellington types.

    offensive line was spotty at best…gave up sacks and too many negative, 0 or 1 yd runs and this against lions back ups at 2 dl spots…I am concerned

    defense…6 turnovers is fantastic…I like the way d is causing fumbles better than the gift pics…we r playing physical…golden seems to b gradually improving as a pass rusher

    biggest thing bout this win is that it restored confidence in the locker room…who cares what the talking heads say anyway?

  17. By CardsFaninWV on Oct 12, 2015 | Reply

    Hey Darren I’ve been a Cards fan since 2003. I actually live in the next town over from The Greenbrier. Imagine that. Are the Cards doing anything fan related this week?

  18. By Darren Urban on Oct 12, 2015 | Reply

    CardsFan —

    RE: Practice

    Unfortunately, practice is closed.

  19. By Steve W. on Oct 12, 2015 | Reply

    What a great game to watch (after that slow first quarter start anyway!) Darren, I had been wondering why BA put Drew in there in the fourth quarter – it just seems to go against his beliefs, but I think I see the reason why in Palmer’s lapse of packing organization. Good Lord Carson, next time promise your fans the only thing you’ll forget to pack next time is your toothbrush! You’ll just have to stand a couple paces further back from the reporters if you do…

    Seriously though, that game was a lot of fun for us fans to watch. No dramatic last minute drive for the win at the end of the game, just a good old-fashioned throttling with a lot of great defense and a solid run game that bodes very well for the Cards’ future if our tandem (trio) of Johnson(s)/Elington stay healthy along with our QB.

    Hope that Okafor and the others injured in that game make a quick recovery. In the meantime, Go Cards! Let’s beat those Steelers next week!

  20. By cards62 on Oct 12, 2015 | Reply

    Greenbrier that is sweet. Darren I hope you and the players and coaches get a chance to have a little fun and of course bring us home a victory on Sunday. There are areas of West Virginia that are so beautiful, almost heaven, sorry could not resist. Still remember some white water rafting trips there from years ago.
    Looking forward to your updates especially health of Okafor.

    Go Cards I will be rooting for a Pittsburgh win tonight and of course a Pittsburgh loss on Sunday.

  21. By Kevin S Mesa on Oct 12, 2015 | Reply

    The Cardinals continue to do exactly what they should do — blow out bad teams, instead of barely squeaking by. This game was over at halftime. So cool to dominate a team, on the road, that Seattle needed a gift non-call from an official to beat at home just a week ago.

    I also kinda like that the stats in this game (in terms of passing yards by our team, as well as allowed) are not that good, because we were so far ahead we didn’t need to throw the ball (and, conversely, Detroit had no other choice). Let all the fans of opposing teams look at our total yardage and think we’re not that good.

    The one stat no one could have predicted — 3rd in the NFL in rushing, with 134.8 YPG? Wow.

    Well, I guess no one would have predicted we’d be scoring 38 PPG either.

    Keep stockpiling wins in games we should win. There will almost certainly be a hiccup or two in the last half of our schedule, so we need these wins now.

    The only disappointing thing about this year is thinking how close we are to 5-0 and how close Seattle is to 1-4… if either we don’t get hosed on a “forward progress” call negating a fumble, or perhaps run the ball when we needed 2 yards… if a referee calls the illegal bat… Oh well.

  22. By Patrick Hoog aka Don't Take Losses on Oct 12, 2015 | Reply

    Please update on knee brace travel logistics. ETA for this week. Lol. What an anecdote.

  23. By Richard L on Oct 12, 2015 | Reply

    Anyone see Michael irvin pick the Cards on his top 5 teams in the NFL. Said Cards are the only one loss team on his list because they are playing great!

  24. By clssylssy on Oct 12, 2015 | Reply

    I believe Howie Long did too (and his kid plays for the Rams)!
    Good team win that we so desperately needed for mental health reasons, hope we have learned our lesson about the nasty taste humble pie leaves! We have a lot of things to clean up, but any team who can put up that many points in such a short time if just plain insanely exciting to watch. I’m glad we won’t have to battle jet lag and time differences in this game with the Steelers, as I selfishly want this one most of all. Even without Ben they have some amazing players and a great staff of coaches so hopefully, we’ll come out a little stronger and set the pace early.
    Officiating continues to be horrendous and I’m hoping the Owners will be addressing this at their meeting. If the officials don’t know the rules, how can the players be expected to and with so many things “unchallengable”, even if the coaches know the rule, it seems to be a no-win situation! What happened to “the integrity of the game”…there should be no such think as “descretionary”. The call that BA challenged was stated to be “to close to call”, so why was it…perhaps a crumb for screwing up against the Hawks?

  25. By Kevin S Mesa on Oct 12, 2015 | Reply

    Richard L — amazingly, there is actually only one other one-loss NFL team in all of football. There are the six unbeatens — GB, Carolina and Atlanta in the NFC and NE, Cincy and Denver in the AFC — and then there’s the Cards and NY Jets with one loss.

    I didn’t see Irvin’s list but yeah, I’d say we’re probably playing better than at least two of the teams on that unbeaten list. Carolina’s almost certain to have 2, if not 3, losses a month from now. Denver’s won 5 games by a total margin of less than our margin in the SF game.

  26. By JohnnyBluenose on Oct 12, 2015 | Reply

    Joe Holst….agree with you on the stats recording. It probably evens out, except for the teams that lose most of the time, but kneel downs and spiked passes should not be included in rating a team’s effectiveness. If stats are supposed to be meaningful then such plays should be excluded in the calculation.

  27. By sbrown on Oct 12, 2015 | Reply

    great game yesterday, way to go Cards. One thing, while watching the game on FOX, what a terrible pair of TV announcers ! it was like I was listening to the Detroit feed… I know that Detroit is not going to get the “B” or “C” announcing team,. but yesterday I think FOX gave us the “F” team. Yesterday one time to turn the sound down and listed to the game on the radio !

  28. By dkerry5242 on Oct 12, 2015 | Reply

    With Okafor and Demens probably out, I think it’s time to play Weatherspoon and Riddick. Steelers will be a tough match up for the Cards run defense and their wideouts are not too shabby either. Their defense puts a lot of pressure on the QB and Palmer will have to read and react quick.
    The Cards have always done pretty well against Vick; but the Steelers will be a real test for them.

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