Defense was the word in Tampa and although the Buccaneers started a rookie quarterback Todd Bowles' unit did what they should have done to an offense that had been struggling: dominate. The Bucs scored 10 points, turned it over 3 times, and RB Doug Martin averaged 1.7 yards/carry. Defense is why the Cards were able to win on the road but their offense was clutch…late.
The Cardinals put together the worst offensive performance of the season on Sunday but made enough plays in the fourth-quarter to win the game. Arizona had 17 first downs, were 1-10 on third down, had three giveaways, averaged 2.8 yards/carry, possessed the ball for only 26 minutes and only scored 13 points.
But all of those points occurred in the fourth-quarter. And when you talk about winning football games in the NFL, fourth-quarter points are a measuring stick.
The game was very similar to the Lions game, where they were 1-11 on third down and scored 9 fourth-quarter points (failed two-point conversion) to come from behind and win the game late.
Was it an impressive victory? No. Was it a victory that instills confidence in the fan base? No. Was it a victory that makes their color-analyst think they're a playoff team? No. Do the guys in the locker room think they're great because they dominated the Buccaneers in the fourth-quarter? No.
But the fact remains: Arizona is 2-2, have played 1 home game in four games, have Daryl Washington coming back from his suspension, and play Carolina at home this Sunday.
Carson Palmer has not played well in his last two games. But he rallied himself Sunday and saved his best for when the Cards needed it the most. In the fourth-quarter, he was 7-12 for 86-yards and a TD. Minus the kneel down possession to win the game, the Cards had four, fourth-quarter possessions and three of them resulted in points.
Does it dismiss the 2-interceptions he threw in the game? No. But as a former player, I respect a guy playing well in crunch-time, especially after he may have struggled previously. It's difficult to right the ship once it's capsized...and that's what Palmer did.
But don't tell me the Cards were lucky to win the game. They were lucky to be IN the game (based on how their offense played for three quarters), but they weren't lucky to WIN the game -- not when they made the plays they did in the fourth quarter.
Patrick Peterson's pick was not lucky, setting up the Cards one and only TD. They may have been lucky that Greg Sciano decided to throw the ball on a 2nd & 6 from inside his own ten-yard line with a rookie QB making his first start, but there was NO luck involved on the play Patrick Peterson made.
There was no luck involved on Carson Palmers TD to Larry Fitzgerald to tie the score at 10 with just over 3:00 to play. That was a great read and a great throw and an even better route by Fitz.
Jay Feely made two clutch kicks and although they were modest in nature he still made them -- and Big Red needed every one of those points.
And Lucky would not describe Peterson's second interception of the quarter, giving the Cardinals a much needed win.
The Cards made plays down the stretch to pull a loss out of the fire and turn it into an unexpected W. Survive and advance…and although it doesn't fill one with confidence, it sure beats the alternative. After all, power polls don't get a team to the next level, wins do.
Ron Wolfley, Co-host of Doug & Wolf
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