For the first time in a calendar year, the Arizona Cardinals are above the .500 mark.
The Cardinals got another dominant performance from their defense in a 22-6 win over the Carolina Panthers at University of Phoenix Stadium Sunday.
Here are six things that stood out to me from Sunday’s Cardinals’ victory.
Welcome back, D-Wash – Last Monday, general manager Steve Keim told Doug and Wolf on Arizona Sports 620 that he was going to greet inside linebacker Daryl Washington at the front door of the team’s Tempe training facility with big hug. Washington had missed the Cardinals’ first four games due to a suspension for a violation of the league’s substance abuse policy. The suspension is now over, and Washington certainly came to play in his 2013 debut with two sacks, nine tackles and an interception. The Cardinals missed Washington’s athleticism in pass coverage in the season’s first four weeks, but he did so much more than that in his return to the lineup.
Who’s it gonna be? – Cards’ cornerback Patrick Peterson was last week’s NFC Defensive Player of Week 4 after a two-interception game against Tampa Bay. There’s a really good chance that particular award stays in Arizona for a second straight week. Washington, Calais Campbell and Karlos Dansby will get consideration for the hardware after solid games. Campbell had two sacks, one of which happened in the end zone for a safety, and he forced a fourth-quarter fumble that led to the Cardinals’ last touchdown. Dansby had, you guessed it, two sacks, an interception and a pass breakup.
More Ellington, please – Rookie sixth-round pick Andre Ellington has proven to be one of the shrewdest late-round picks in the National Football League to this point. Ellington had 52 yards on just seven carries and caught four passes for 31 yards Sunday. His workload grows a little each week, you would think that by the midway point of the season, he’ll be getting more touches on offense than starter Rashard Mendenhall. I’m all for it. Ellington has a rare burst that Cardinals fans haven’t seen from the running back spot since, well, let’s just say it’s been a long time.
Too many picks – It wasn’t all sunshine and candy Sunday for the Cardinals. Thanks to the defensive effort, the team was able to win despite three interceptions from quarterback Carson Palmer. The veteran, who has had a a penchant for turnovers during his career, has been intercepted seven times in the last three games and nine times overall — which projects out to almost 29 picks over the course of a 16-game schedule. The Cardinals will struggle to score in games where they don’t turn the ball over this season — so the picks need to stop.
The kicking game – Man, Dave Zastudil is a good punter. The left-footer from Ohio U. averaged just under 50 yards per punt Sunday, planted half of his kicks inside the Panthers’ 20-yard line and had a ridiculous net average of 48.3 yards. It was his highest net average in a single game since Week 2 of the 2008 season when he was with Cleveland (52.8 yards). And after being in the doghouse for much of the preseason, Jay Feely has acquitted himself rather nicely in the last few games. The veteran was 2-for-2 on field goal attempts Sunday, including a 50-yarder with 3:38 to go that made it a two-possession game. For the season, Feely is 7-for-8 on field goal attempts, so maybe that challenge from Arians in the preseason worked.
It’s not 1985 – The Wave? Seriously? I had to check my calendar to make sure I hadn’t been transported back in time via DeLorean when Cardinals fans started doing the Wave in the second half. Did the people who started Sunday’s version leave the game and then see how many people they could fit into a phone booth? Or did they just retire to the homestead to eat live goldfish? The Wave is obviously outdated, but it’s even worse to do it WHEN YOUR TEAM IS OFFENSE! Fan behavior 101: When your team is on defense, unleash hell. When your team is offense, shut up until something good happens. Capische?