NFL: Arizona Cardinals Defense
We all know that the Arizona Cardinals have a difficult schedule for the 2013 season. Most football predictions had them winning 4 to 5 games this year, but their defeat of the Carolina Panthers (22-6) last Sunday has them currently at 3-2.
The defense, which was considered their strong point, certainly showed up against Cam Newton this past Sunday as they sacked him seven times and intercepted him three times. In fact, the Arizona defense was in control throughout the entire game. The game also marked the return of Daryl Washington and he showed his presence all over the football field. He had two of the Cardinal’s seven sacks and picked off a Cam Newton pass; returning it forty-one yards. He also set up fellow linebacker Karlos Dansby for two more sacks with his pressure up the middle on Newton.
Everyone knew that Washington’s return would be big for the Cardinals team. There were questions though; would those four weeks away leave him out of game shape and wavering or would he play as if he never had been away? I don’t think anyone expected him to have the impact that he did though.
The Panthers, who had a 6-3 lead at halftime, were then shut out as the Cardinals offense scored 19 points in the final half. The Cardinals took the lead in the third quarter, going 85 yards on 10 plays to take a 10-6 lead. After that, Calais Campbell sacked Cam Newton in the end zone for a safety, pushing the lead to 12-6.
Patrick Peterson had an interception in Sunday’s game. He now has 3 interceptions in two games and is on pace to surpass his seven interceptions from a season ago.
The Arizona defense only gave up 95 yards rushing to keep their league average at 3.3 yards per carry (YPC). That is impressive and ranks among the league’s best. They still have not allowed a rushing touchdown to a running back. They did allow a rushing touchdown this year, but that came from Saints QB Drew Brees in a Week 3 loss in New Orleans.
Much of the credit for this defense has to go to Defensive Coordinator Todd Bowles. In his first year as the Cardinals Defensive Coordinator, he had to prove to the players that his defensive set-ups would work with this group of players. He called a great game this past Sunday, changing up schemes to keep Newton guessing.
With the way Bowles’ has his defense playing on a weekly basis and if they can continue to keep the Cardinals in the game; and if Arians ever gets his offense to play even average football, the Cardinals might surprise more teams and have a better than a 4 to 5 win season.
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