The Arizona Cardinals earned their first win of the season yesterday, in a 25-21 win at home over the Detroit Lions.
Larry Fitzgerald hardly played, while Calvin Johnson had 116 receiving yards and two touchdowns against the Cardinals defense, Carson Palmer threw a pick-six, and the Cardinals still managed to win the game. Here are the five guys who made the difference in yesterday's game:
- 5.) Levi Brown
We know, you probably almost puked at the suggestion that Cardinals left tackle Levi Brown did something good. But we rate Brown's performance by the number of times we screamed, "OH JESUS LEVI BROWN, WHAT THE HELL MAN?" For the first time in recent memory, that was only uttered once during yesterday's game, in which Carson Palmer fumbled while getting sacked by Brown's assignment, and the Lions recovered -- BUT WAIT! -- an "illegal use of hands" call reversed that, so it never happened . . . right? Palmer only got sacked once this game, and Brown was responsible for three sacks in week one. Since everyone has been bashing Brown since long before this season, he deserves a pat on the back (we're gagging) for yesterday's game.
- 4.) Quarterback Patrick Peterson and wide receiver Patrick Peterson
Cornerback Patrick Peterson didn't exactly shut down Megatron, who caught six balls in eight targets, for 116 yards and two TDs. But remember all that stuff about Bruce Arians thinking Peterson can actually play offense? That's real. Peterson took a hand-off from Palmer in the third quarter, and headed left, but he switched directions deep in the backfield. Instead of looking like a jackass who just lost 20 yards on a simple hand-off, Peterson looked up -- it was a designed throw, and Kerry Taylor(!) was wide open for the catch. Peterson also had a 17-yard reception from Palmer.
- 3.) Kerry Taylor
Kerry Taylor, the former Arizona State University wide receiver, hadn't played in a regular-season game since going undrafted in 2011, until yesterday. Taylor was just promoted from the practice squad to the active roster for this week, after Larry Fitzgerald got injured, and he took advantage of it, with three good catches for 40 yards, including that pass from Peterson.
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- 2.) Justin Bethel
Bethel almost crapped the bed on this one. Well, he did. Early in the game, Bethel ran into David Akers while trying to block his 52-yard field goal attempt, which Akers missed. Bethel was off the hook, because Akers missed his 47-yard attempt too. Aside from a tackle he had on punt coverage just before the half, Bethel needed just one play to mark his performance. With the Cardinals down by two in the fourth quarter, Akers attempted a 47-yard kick, and Bethel blocked that one cleanly. Sure, the Cardinals ended up winning by four points, but that doesn't mean Bethel's play wasn't worth it.
- 1.) Tyrann Mathieu
The Honey Badger just kicks ass. He had six solo tackles -- one for loss. He batted down a pass, and pretty much smothered wide receivers. For his signature play this week, he ended the Lions' hopes of a comeback. Detroit was about seven yards short of midfield on a fourth down, and Matt Stafford threw a short pass to Nate Burleson, who caught the ball about a yard short of a first down. Burleson probably didn't get another inch on the play, because Mathieu stuck him right there, making the tackle to end the game.
The Cardinals play the Saints in New Orleans next Sunday, at 10 a.m. local time.