The Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs. The Arizona Cardinals
The new look Cardinals took on another NFC opponent looking to figure out in what direction they’re headed, in the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday from University of Phoenix Stadium. The Cardinals came out on top, 38-33, putting on display their new big acquisition via trade, running back Adrian Peterson.
Peterson immediately gave the Arizona offense a shot in the arm from the running game, looking like he’d drank from the fountain of youth. The win brought the Cards back to an even 3-3 record while dropping the Bucs to 2-3. The Cardinals also showed what their offense can look like when they have healthy linemen, as they got D.J. Humphries and Alex Boone back on the field.
The Beating… That Wasn’t
Carson Palmer was leading the league in hits taken at quarterback, coming into the week, but today was a different story. The return of Humphries and Boone to the offensive line kept not only Palmer upright, but opened up the necessary holes for Peterson to make an impact in the running game. Palmer in the end was only hit four times, two of those for a sack. The Cardinals will take those numbers every week.
The New Kid On The Block
Cardinals management addressed the need for an impactful running game and traded for future hall of famer, Adrian Peterson from the Saints for a conditional draft pick. Peterson had gotten off to a slow start in New Orleans trying to get adjusted to that offense and finding his place in their crowded backfield which made him available for trade. The Cardinals were happy to pay the price to see if he could add the dynamic playmaking ability and add he did. AP ran for 134 yards on 26 carries along with two touchdowns on way to the victory. The Cardinals had been averaging 51.8 yards rushing a game and ended up surpassing that total on the first drive of the game, running for 54 yards. Peterson ran with an energy, toughness and presence Arizona hadn’t seen this year. AP’s presence not only gave them a running game but opened up the passing game, especially with play action. This was a Cardinals offense running on all cylinders.
Today showed exactly what this offense can look like when things are running properly. It’s a team who can keep defenses on their heels and heads on a swivel with all the weapons and options they present. Carson Palmer completed his first 14 pass attempts on his way to a 18 for 22 performance, good for 283 yards and three touchdowns and one interception. Palmer finally looked comfortable in the pocket, setting his feet on throws and keeping his eye level up towards his progressions instead of being concerned about defenders closing in on him. A comfortable Carson Palmer is an elite level quarterback.
Larry Fitzgerald must have shared a dip into the fountain of youth with Adrian Peterson this week as he too benefitted from AP’s presence. “Larry Legend” brought in 10 receptions for 138 yards and a touchdown in a classic Fitzgerald performance. John Brown added 3 grabs for 63 yards and a touchdown of his own.
This was a tale of two quarterbacks and a display of the benefits to having Patrick Peterson. The Cardinals held Bucs starting quarterback Jameis Winston to just 61 yards through the air before getting knocked out of the game right before half time. The defense was in total control… and then Ryan Fitzpatrick stepped in for Winston at quarterback and the headaches began. In a little over two quarters, Fitzpatrick put up a 22 for 32 performance for 290 yards and three touchdowns to go with two picks. A game that felt locked up turned into one an onside kick away from giving Tampa Bay a chance to drive for the win. Patrick Peterson left the game in the fourth quarter with a quadriceps injury which allowed Mike Evans to finally get involved in the Tampa offense, adding three grabs for 95 yards and a touchdown.
Arizona did shutdown a quality running attack from the Buccaneers, limiting them to 68 yards total, 53 of them from running back Doug Martin on 14 carries. The Cardinals will need to tighten things up if they hope to contain the hot start Rams in London next week.
Cornerback Patrick Peterson left the game with a quadriceps injury but should be good to go from London. Defensive lineman Xavier Williams suffered a knee injury and has time period is unknown.
The Cardinals fly to cheery ol’ London to take on the Los Angeles Rams on Sunday at 10am PST.[NFL-Cardinals-footer]