Ryan Lindley led the Arizona Cardinals to a 38-10 win over the Detroit Lions Sunday.
Take that statement with a grain of salt.
Sure, the rookie quarterback gets credit for the victory — the first of his career — but the word “led” does not exactly apply here.
A sixth-round pick out of San Diego State last April, the quarterback completed 14-of-21 passes for 104 yards and an interception. He averaged just five yards per pass attempt, and finished with a quarterback rating of 58.4.
Arizona’s first two scoring drives went a combined eight yards courtesy of a muffed punt and an interception, and the team’s final score came via a drive that began on the Detroit 29. The Cardinals also returned a pair of picks for scores.
The game reminded us of one played in Glendale not long ago, which also resulted in a Cardinals victory.
On October 10, 2010, the Cardinals hosted the defending Super Bowl champion New Orleans Saints.
“Led” by undrafted rookie Max Hall, who was making his first-career start, the Cardinals upset the Saints in a 30-20 game that featured a trio of Jay Feely field goals supported by touchdowns from Levi Brown, Kerry Rhodes and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie.
Hall, who was named the “Pepsi Rookie of the Week” for his effort, completed just 17-of-27 passes for 168 yards and one interception.
Like this past Sunday, the Cardinals won that day two years ago because the defense stepped up in a big way, making up for an offense that lacked any kind of punch.
Sunday, the Cardinals gained 196 yards of total offense. Two years ago, that total was 194. Sunday, the Cardinals averaged 3.8 yards per play. Two years ago, that number was 3.4.
But that wasn’t important, at least not for the final score.
Because Sunday, the Cardinals picked off Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford three times and returned two of the interceptions for scores. Two years ago, the Cardinals picked off Saints quarterback Drew Brees three times, returning one of the interceptions for a touchdown. They also scooped up a fumble and returned it for a score.
Sunday, just as they did two years ago, the Arizona Cardinals won a game with poor quarterback play from a rookie because the defense not only stopped the opponent, but did some scoring of its own.