The Arizona Cardinals clinched the NFC West but the sense of accomplishment came with concerning injury news.
Safety Tyrann Mathieu left for the locker room with a knee injury with less than three minutes to play in the 40-17 win against the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday.
Mathieu exited the field walking under his own power following a fourth quarter interception, when it appeared the star defensive back went down on a non-contact play after picking off Sam Bradford’s pass with 2:37 left in the game.
Coach Bruce Arians told the media after the game he did not yet know the status of Mathieu’s injury, but teammates are hoping for the best after seeing the Mathieu following the game. While the team did not provide an update on the safety’s status, a few social media posts by the Honey Badger himself would indicate the news isn’t bad.
After the game, Mathieu tweeted a picture of a notepad message that said, simply: “Dear God, I’m a huge fan of your work. Thank you.”
He followed that by adding, “NFC WEST CHAMPS! #ForGlory”
— Craig Grialou (@CraigAZSports) December 21, 2015
— Arizona Cardinals (@AZCardinals) December 21, 2015
Monday, as a guest of Doug and Wolf on Arizona Sports 98.7 FM, Cardinals GM Steve Keim said Mathieu was set to undergo an MRI Monday morning.
“That always reveals whether there’s any damage or not to the knee, so we’ll keep our fingers crossed,” he said. “He’s such a valuable piece to this defense, to this organization, and he has been a special guy — to me — just in terms of what he brings to the locker room, how he’s changed his life and all the great things he’s done for this organization.”
Mathieu’s pick was one of four turnovers forced by the Arizona defense. Linebacker Deone Bucannon recorded a pick-six to start the fourth quarter, after the Cardinals forced two fumbles on consecutive possessions as they took control in the third.
Before Mathieu’s injury, quarterback Carson Palmer left the game after suffering an injury, and a close-up of his right index finger provided by NBC’s broadcast may have added worry. If what transpired afterward is any indication, Palmer won’t face a setback to his stellar season.
Palmer would lead Arizona on a five-play, 50-yard drive after Arizona recovered its second fumble in a row. Palmer found John Brown along the sideline for a 16-yard score that gave the Cardinals a 30-10 lead in the third quarter of their 40-17 win.
“I’ll be fine, I’ll be fine,” Palmer told Arizona Sports 98.7 FM’s Paul Calvisi.
Palmer let loose on a passing attempt during the third quarter but on his follow-through slammed his right index finger into the hands and helmet for a Philadelphia pass rusher.
The quarterback left for a third down and winced as backup Drew Stanton threw a deep incompletion. After trainers put a few layers of tape on Palmer’s finger, the starter returned on the Cardinals’ next possession.
Palmer finished 20-of-32 for 174 yards and a touchdown without an interception.