Originally written September 22, 2013 on isportsweb.com:
Coming into Sunday’s matchup at the Superdome, the Saints were heavily favored, and they played like it, defeating the Arizona ,Cardinals 31-7 in domination fashion. Drew Brees threw for 342 yards, three touchdowns and an interception, Jimmy Graham caught nine passes for 134 yards and two touchdowns, and the Saints picked off Carson Palmer twice en route to win to go to 3-0 on the season. The Cardinals, on the other hand, fall to 1-2 on the season. Bruce Arians will have plenty to talk about in the film study, as the Cardinals failed to get anything going after the opening touchdown-scoring drive. After that, the Saints scored 31 unanswered points, and dominated the Cards on almost every facet of the game. After a reassuring performance against Detroit last week, Arizona’s offensive line played poorly to say the least, giving up four sacks and nine quarterback hits on Carson Palmer, whose statline suffered due to the fact: 18 for 35 with 187 yards and 2 interceptions. One storyline I believe deserves special mention: Cardinals starting defensive tackle Dan Williams did not play today, as his father died in a car crash on his way to watch his son play. It’s truly a tragedy that demands some perspective, and I implore that thoughts and prayers are with Dan and his family. Here’s a look at some of the winners and losers for Arizona. Winners Running Game I know that it feels like I say this week after week, but I am really pleased with how Arians and Keim have turned this league-worst running game around. Collectively, the unit ran for 86 yards on 16 carries (a 5.4 average) and scored the lone touchdown on an Alfonso Smith stretch. On that opening drive, Bruce Arians even sent out backup tackle Nate Potter out as a tight end for some extra beef, and it paid off well. The Cardinals were facing a deficit for the rest of the afternoon was used sparingly, but this unit responded when called upon, with three runs of 10 or more yards. Out of sixteen carries, that’s a sizable proportion. Darnell Dockett Last season, Darnell Dockett played 15 games and notched 1.5 sacks for the season. Sunday against the Saints, Dockett doubled that, reaching Drew Brees three times. With Calais Campbell opposite of him, a 3-4 defense is crazy scary with two defensive ends that can consistently reach the quarterback. Ay, there’s the rub… consistency. Either way, Darnell Dockett did his part, and will look to duplicate the effort next week against Tampa Bay. Tyrann Mathieu Tyrann Mathieu responded to his homecoming exceptionally well, picking off Drew Brees and amassing 10 tackles on the day. The interception was a thing of beauty, as Mathieu’s ball skills were on full display as he contorted for the overthrown ball. It’s a small consolation prize for an otherwise ugly loss, but Mathieu gave his hometown fans something to cheer about. Plus, another play to add to his highlight reel is always nice. For blame that isn’t his own, however, Mathieu was met with too many occasions where he covered Jimmy Graham. I like the Honey Badger a lot, but I don’t like putting him in situations like that, and it seems like it happened far too much. He responded fearlessly, as usual, but I hope it doesn’t become a recurring issue.   Losers Carson Palmer The statline I threw out above tells the story, and tells it well. Carson Palmer was under fire all game and didn’t play as well as he should have to keep the Cardinals in the game. I know it’s not all on him, but his two interceptions were very carelessly thrown, and could just as easily have thrown a third when he and Housler miscommunicated early in the second half. For the first half, Andre Ellington was the leading receiver for the Cardinals, better illustrating just how unable he was at getting the ball to Floyd, Roberts and Fitzgerald. Sam Acho’s injury After notching Arizona’s second sack of the game, starting outside linebacker Sam Acho was carted off the field, and wouldn’t return to the field. After the game, @TheSamAcho tweeted a picture of his left foot in a boot, captioned: “God has a plan. And His plan is the best plan. If it could be done any better, He would do it. #LFG #TrustGod” Hopefully Acho won’t miss too much playing time, but foot injuries are always tricky to deal with. Stay tuned for next week, as the Cardinals take on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Raymond James Stadium! Kickoff is Sep 29 at 1:00PM ET.
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