Lingering among the top Arizona Cardinals storylines this season is a unit that shouldn't be getting much attention when it's performing well --- the offensive line.
Along with Carson Palmer's interception woes, the trade of offensive tackle Levi Brown, the team's defensive successes and Larry Fitzgerald's down year, the sustained struggles of the offensive line have made headlines throughout the year.
But Sunday versus the Atlanta Falcons, the Cardinals' offensive front seems to have dodged another round of Monday morning criticism. Though allowing three sacks, a closer look reveals that the line protected its quarterback extremely well, as Palmer was hurried just twice and .
In effect, the assumption was that the team's opponent was the biggest factor in the anomalous showing Sunday. The Falcons brought one of the NFC's worst defenses to University of Phoenix Stadium, according to points per game and sacks metrics. Headed into the contest, they had recorded just 14 sacks through their first seven games.
But head coach Bruce Arians believes it was the line's performance, not the Falcons' lack thereof, that deserves the credit for the improvement.
"I think it was a lot of growth," Arians explained Monday while a guest with The Dan Bickley Show with Vince Marotta.
The coach went on to point out that, while the Falcons' defense as a whole has struggled throughout the season -- suffering injuries along the way, that their defensive linemen and linebackers haven't been among the troubled.
"That's a solid front," Arians said of Atlanta's defensive front.
"You know, that team was picked to win the Super Bowl by a lot of people. They have had some injuries, but they weren't to their linemen. So they're a good front, and they were missing just one linebacker, but I thought it was the best we played up front as a group and the tight ends especially played better."