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Takeaways equal points for the Arizona Cardinals

Arizona Cardinals cornerback Jerraud Powers (25) celebrates his interception against the San Francisco 49ers during the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Sept. 27, 2015, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)

TEMPE, Ariz. – Of the seven Arizona Cardinals’ takeaways this season, all have been interceptions, including four last week against San Francisco.

The debate inside the locker room on Thursday was which INT has been the best.

Safety Tyrann Mathieu has two, one of which he returned for a touchdown. Cornerback Justin Bethel and safety Tony Jefferson each have pick-sixes, while safety Rashad Johnson and corners Patrick Peterson and Jerraud Powers account for one interception apiece.

The seven interceptions are the most in the NFL.

“I had to lay out for mine,” Powers said, smiling.  “Ty got a couple ones that kind of just fell into his lap.  J.B. made a break where it was like a pitch-and-catch type deal.  Rashad, for a guy that’s got nine fingers, the tip ball that’s low to the ground, that was impressive.  I gave him his props.  (His interception) came off of my deflection, by the way.  And Pat used his body.  He used his body.  He didn’t use his hands to catch his, he used his body.  I used my hands.  I got a picture to prove it, so I still think I got the best hands.  (And) I got two jammed fingers right now, but I don’t want to mention that.”

All kidding aside, the Cardinals’ takeaways haven’t just stopped opposing offenses, but set up their own offense.

The Cardinals have scored at least three points off all seven: five touchdowns and two field goals for a total of 41 points, tops in the NFL.

“It’s just a total team effort,” Mathieu said.  “You talk about what our offense has been able to do.  Those guys continue to score 30 points really puts us in a position as a defense to really make those big-time plays because most teams are going to have to try to throw the ball to catch up to us.  We really got a good group of guys.”

Under head coach Bruce Arians, the defense has always been strong, and this season is no exception even with a first-year defensive coordinator in James Bettcher.

“We believe that we can (be ranked) No. 1 in interceptions and No. 1 in turnovers in the NFL this season.  That’s the kind of guys we have in the secondary and on defense that we feel like we can get it down,” Johnson said.  “A lot of that came from training camp, as well, because we’re going against a great offense each and every day.  And being able to hold them some days, on some days they’re making big plays on us, and it only just combined to make us even better once the season started to be able to put up points on both sides of the ball the way that we’re doing.”

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