It’s about time!
I couldn’t envision the Cardinals losing ten straight games, let alone twelve straight to end the season.
Thankfully, you can throw both of them out the window after Arizona’s 38-10 win over the Detroit Lions on Sunday in Glendale, Ariz.
The offense, “powered” by Beanie Wells’ three touchdowns, performed at their usual level – gaining just 196 yards total – but it was the defense that stole the show in this contest.
The Lions came into the game with the league’s No. 2 ranked offense and No. 1 ranked passing attack.
That didn’t matter to the Cardinals defense. They went out and tamed Detroit’s offense, holding them to 312 total yards, which is over 100 yards less than their season average per game (413.8).
Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford was harassed and pressured all day, and it showed in his numbers.
Stafford was 24-of-50 for 246 yards, zero touchdowns and three INTs, two of which were returned for touchdowns.
Stafford’s 37.6-passer rating was the third-lowest of his career and lowest for him in three years.
“They played well, played our scheme well, our d-line I thought played very well,” head coach Ken Whisenhunt said. “We’ve done a good job this year in general with being able to bring pressure, but when you do that, you’ve got to be able to hold up outside and our guys competed hard yesterday.”
The third interception Stafford threw was to cornerback Patrick Peterson. With the steal, Peterson now has seven INTs on the season. That ties him with Giants S Stevie Brown for the second-most interceptions in the league this season.
Peterson’s on a “pick hot streak” right now. He’s now recorded an interception in four straight games.
Earlier in the week Peterson told the Lions media that he’s the “best cornerback in the league.” It’s hard to dispute that if he keeps playing defense and putting up numbers like that.
“He backed it up,” Whisenhunt said. “We’ve talked about that at different times over the last two years, about his commitment to wanting to be great and how he works on the practice field, how he works in the classroom.”
“He has no ego,” Whisenhunt added. “He has confidence in himself, but he works very hard. That exudes leadership from young players.”
Whisenhunt said becoming a leader on a football team at the tender age of 22 – like Peterson is – doesn’t happen immediately. He says it’s a process that Peterson, Calais Campbell and Daryl Washington have all been through to get to where they are right now.
“You don’t just wake up in the morning and you’re that guy,” Whisenhunt said. “I think you have to establish credibility first that you can play at that level.”
“Then it’s also about your work ethic, your interaction with your team, and what you’re all about, that’s what you try to create,” Whisenhunt said.
Speaking of creating…
It looks like the Cardinals offensive line is starting to create the wall they’ve always envisioned.
Rookie tackles Nate Potter and Bobby Massie are getting stronger at their respective positions, and despite the fact that guard Adam Snyder made his first ever start at center on Sunday, and Pat McQuistan was starting at Snyder’s regular right guard spot, they only gave up one sack against one of the fiercest defensive lines in the game.
Whisenhunt was pleased with the performance of his lineman, but he saw some things that need some tweaking during practice this week.
“We had some snaps on the ground that didn’t look good,” Whisenhunt said. “We had some mistakes, but overall with the week of practicing with those guys and two new guys in new positions, and with those young tackles, they did a nice job.”
Strong safety Adrian Wilson made history on Sunday, becoming just the sixth player in NFL history to have at least 25 sacks and 25 interceptions in his career.
Wilson was very emotional after the game, and with good reason. He’s worked very hard over his dozen years in Arizona and he deserves the recognition.
“I couldn’t see it happening to a better guy,” Whisenhunt said. “That’s a significant achievement in a career that Adrian’s had, and the recognition that comes with that as far as how he’s viewed in the eyes of history going forward, I think it’s outstanding.”
Now that the losing streak is over, the Cardinals can turn their attention towards the Chicago Bears, who come to town on Sunday. The Bears are in a free-fall right now and are in desperate need of a win.
Whisenhunt knows it’s been hard on the fans with the losing streak and all, but he wants them to stick with them, especially in their home finale against Chicago.
“I know it’s tough, and all of us feel badly that we haven’t done a better job of getting more wins, but we appreciate the support and we really believe that we’re going to get better as it goes forward.”