For three quarters, there was a lot to like about the new Arizona Cardinals. But in the end, improved quarterback play, a balanced running attack and big takeaways weren’t enough to keep the Bruce Arians era from getting off to an inauspicious start.
Up 24-13 going into the fourth quarter, the Cardinals managed to cough up the lead and the game, as Jeff Fisher’s squad came back to snatch a 27-24 victory in the final moments.
While Arizona dropped a winnable game against a divisional opponent on the road, it’s not all doom and gloom heading into next Sunday’s home opener against Detroit.
Here is a breakdown of Week 1 — good and bad — by the numbers.
Todd Bowles’ system was supposed to allow Darnell Dockett and Calais Campbell more opportunities to reach the quarterback in passing situations. Neither Dockett nor Campbell nor any defensive player managed to get to Sam Bradford Sunday. Despite 38 dropbacks, the Cardinals recorded zero sacks.
Larry Fitzgerald had just four touchdown catches in 2012. So far in 2013, he already has half that number. Carson Palmer targeted Fitzgerald 14 times, including on two terrifically thrown balls from four and 24 yards out respectively. Fitzgerald’s last multi-touchdown game came in Nov. 2011.
Levi Brown missed Robert Quinn’s defensive display (six tackles and three sacks) in last season’s Week 5 matchup back on Oct. 4, 2012. Sunday, he was front and center for the third-year pro’s monster performance. Quinn manhandled the Cardinals left tackle and had three sacks and two forced fumbles — the second of which completely changed the complexion of the game in the fourth quarter.
The Cardinals completed seven of their 14 chances on third down, however in a scoreless fourth quarter, they converted on just 1-of-4 attempts.
According to ESPN Stats and Info, Cardinals quarterbacks failed to complete a single one of their nine passes thrown to Larry Fitzgerald in the end zone last season. Already this season, Carson Palmer is 2-of-3.
Dating back to last season, the Cardinals have lost six straight against division opponents. Their last win came against the Seattle Seahawks Sept. 9, 2012 or a full 16 games ago.
Jay Feely missed only three kicks all of 2012. He’s already one-third of the way there in 2013. Feely, 37, struggled a bit during the preseason with his accuracy — a trend that continued in Sunday’s loss. Although not an easy kick, the 13-year veteran’s miss wide right from 50 yards to end the first half proved to be big, as the Cardinals fell by only three points.
Pro Bowl linebacker Daryl Washington sat out the first of four games due to suspension, and his absence was noticeable. Although Karlos Dansby tied a team-high with eight tackles, most of the contest the 31-year-old was no match for tight end Jared Cook. Cook finished with seven receptions for 141 yards and two touchdowns — a total that would have been higher if not for the hustle of rookie Tyrann Mathieu.
Andre Roberts matched Fitzgerald with eight catches on the afternoon, four of which came on third down. The fourth-year pro out of the Citadel was held out of the end zone, but he did lead the team with 97 receiving yards.
Despite missing the playoffs each of the last three seasons, the Cardinals could at least hang their hat on winning season openers. Sunday’s Week 1 loss in St. Louis was their first since Sept. 2009.