Big Red Recap: Cardinals fall flat in London, lose Palmer in the process
Things change quickly in the National Football League.
Last week, the Arizona Cardinals were the talk of the town. Their season had perhaps been saved with the acquisition of Adrian Peterson, who in his debut rushed for 134 yards and two touchdowns to earn NFC Offensive Player of the Week honors.
This week, the Cardinals (3-4) are once again a sub-.500 team, have people questioning whether Peterson was simply a one-hit wonder and, perhaps worst of all, face the likelihood of the season continuing without their starting quarterback.
For the second time in three weeks the Cardinals were embarrassed on the road.
Their game did not travel to London.
The Los Angeles Rams, they had no issues making the trip across the pond. And they arrived Friday, three days after the Cardinals.
Jared Goff passed and ran for a touchdown, Todd Gurley rushed for a score, while Greg Zuerlein kicked four field goals in a 33-0 Rams victory at Twickenham Stadium.
The Rams (5-2) won their second straight.
After a field goal made it 6-0 four minutes into the second quarter, the Rams scored three more times, twice in the final minute of the period, and took a 23-0 lead at halftime.
Gurley rushed for 106 yards, Peterson finished with 21 on 11 carries.
Carson Palmer (10-of-18 for 122 yards and an interception) was knocked out of the game in the second quarter with a broken left arm and may be lost for the season.
It’s the first time the Cardinals have been shutout under head coach Bruce Arians.
On the game’s fourth play, Larry Fitzgerald caught a 17-yard pass to convert a 3rd-and-9 which extended his streak of at least one reception to 202 consecutive games, the longest active streak and third-longest ever in league history. Fitzgerald also has at least one catch in all 40 venues he has played during his NFL career.
The one bright spot in the first half had to be Chandler Jones. He recorded another sack, dropping Goff on third down later in the second quarter. It was Jones’ NFL-leading eighth sack, more than any player in franchise history through the first seven games of a season. He now has a sack in 15 of 23 games played with the Cardinals.
In his fourth game back, Deone Bucannon had maybe his best performance to date. After a team-high seven tackles in the first half, Bucannon recorded his first interception of the season. He picked off Goff on a pass intended for Gurley inside the red zone in the third quarter. Bucannon finished with a team-best 12 tackles.
For the fifth time in seven games, Phil Dawson missed a field goal attempt. He was wide left on a 32-yard try on the Cardinals’ opening possession. Now to be fair, the snap from Justin Drescher was low but holder Andy Lee did a good job of placing the ball upright. Three of Dawson’s misses have come between 30-39 yards.
Faced with a 3rd-and-11 at the L.A. 35 in the second quarter, Palmer was sacked by Aaron Donald, knocking the Cardinals out of field goal range. Donald beat Alex Boone but it was the pressure provided by Robert Quinn who forced Palmer up in the pocket that keyed the play. Quinn beat D.J. Humphries off the edge on the snap.
In a matter of two plays, the Cardinals lost the football, lost their quarterback and fell deeper in the hole. First, Palmer was picked off by Lamarcus Joyner, hurting his left arm on the play. Then, Gurley rushed 18 yards, breaking a handful of tackles, for a touchdown and 13-0 Rams lead at the 5:25 mark of the second quarter.
Of the Cardinals 10 penalties (for 65 yards), five were encroachment or neutral zone infraction calls. In other words, the defense jumped offsides before the snap of the football. The guilty players included Rodney Gunter, Josh Mauro, Robert Nkemdiche and Xavier Williams. Mauro, by the way, was flagged twice.
On the Rams seventh (on 11 possessions) and final scoring drive of the game, they converted five third downs. They moved the chains on 3rd-and-2, 3rd-and-7, 3rd-and-9, 3rd-and-6 plus 3rd-and-goal; the latter an 18-yard Goff to Cooper Kupp touchdown pass that made the score 33-0 at the 3:46 mark of the fourth quarter.
STAT OF THE GAME
61.7: Over the last three games, the Cardinals have allowed their opponents to convert 61.7 percent (29-of-47) on third down
HE SAID IT
“He’s going to have surgery,” Arians said, referring to Palmer, who is expected to miss at least eight weeks. “Drew (Stanton) is our guy.”
Palmer has now been hurt three different times against the Rams: 2014 (ACL), 2016 (concussion) and 2017 (arm).
Tramon Williams as expected started at the cornerback position opposite Patrick Peterson, replacing Justin Bethel.
Karlos Dansby exited the field and went into the locker room with an apparent finger injury early in the first quarter.
Frostee Rucker exited the field with an apparent right knee injury early in the third quarter; he, like Dansby, returned.
The Cardinals lost the coin toss for just the second time this season yet in every game they have started with the ball.
The 21st NFL game in London also marked the Cardinals’ second-ever regular season game played outside the U.S.
Among the Cardinals’ listed inactives were injured players Andre Ellington (quadriceps) and Olsen Pierre (left ankle).
Some time off.
The Cardinals have reached their bye week, so they are not in action again until Sunday, Nov. 5 when they travel to San Francisco to play the 49ers. Kickoff is scheduled for 2:05 p.m. with pregame coverage beginning four hours earlier on 98.7 FM, Arizona’s Sports Station.
Back in Week 4, the Cardinals beat the 49ers and have now won five straight over their NFC West rivals; that includes a 33-21 victory in the Cardinals’ last visit to Levi’s Stadium last season.
The Cardinals are hoping for the season series sweep for a third straight year.
Overall, the Cardinals trail in the series, 29-23, dating back to 1951.