When the Arizona Cardinals centered the ball for a game-winning field goal attempt rather than take a shot at the end zone on third-and-goal from the 7-yard line with 1:33 remaining in a 10-10 game, it seemed logical to draw one conclusion:
Cardinals head coach Bruce Arians doesn’t trust the offense, and he doesn’t trust Carson Palmer.
Despite the Cardinals’ woeful offensive performance, there were a number of factors that went into the decision to play for the field goal, Arians told The Dan Bickley Show with Vince Marotta Monday:
“The second-down play was really the bad play, when (running back) Rashard (Mendenhall) tried to bolt out and score,” Arians said.
“At that point, you’re going to put the win in harm’s way by throwing it into the end zone. But more than anything, defense was playing lights out. I had no doubt we’d get a good kickoff and they’d start on the 20, and we’d hold them with no timeouts. The big thing was to burn all three timeouts.”
The Arizona defense had dominated Tampa Bay up to that point, holding running back Doug Martin to 45 yards on 27 carries and limiting rookie quarterback Mike Glennon to 22-of-40 passing for 172 yards, a touchdown and an interception.
The Cardinals’ offense had also proven itself capable of making a major mistake after turning the ball over three times — Mendenhall also fumbled the ball on the previous play, but Arizona maintained possession — and going just 1-of-9 on third down to that point.
Arians’ decision proved correct, as kicker Jay Feely drilled a 27-yard field goal before sending the kickoff into the end zone for a touchback, and the Tampa Bay offense advanced to its own 42-yard line before Patrick Peterson intercepted his second pass of the day to secure the Cardinals’ 13-10 win.