The Arizona Cardinals entered Sunday’s game against the Atlanta Falcons hoping to avoid a three-game losing streak and keep pace in the muddled NFC Wild Card picture.
The Cardinals rushed for a season-high 201 yards thanks to Andre Ellington’s career day in his first start, the defense forced four turnovers and Arizona thoroughly dominated the Falcons in a 27-13 win at University of Phoenix Stadium.
Ellington finally got the playing time that fans had been clamoring for, and he may have exceeded their lofty expectations. The rookie out of Clemson gained 154 yards on 15 carries, including an 80-yard touchdown run in the first half. He also caught two passes for eight yards.
But Ellington wasn’t the only impressive member of the Cardinals’ offense in its most impressive performance of the season.
Though his number weren’t eye-popping, Palmer played his best game in a Cardinals uniform despite an early interception. He threw for 172 yards and two scores on 13-of-18 passing
The Cardinals receivers also delivered throughout the day — including Teddy Williams, who caught a pass for 51 yards in his first action with the Cardinals — and Larry Fitzgerald became the youngest player in NFL history to reach 800 career catches.
The Arizona defense also returned to its dominant ways, forcing four turnovers — all interceptions — and limiting the Falcons to 292 yards and just one touchdown. Safety Rashad Johnson had a pair of interceptions while the Cardinals sacked Matt Ryan four times.
Palmer threw his 14th interception of the season on Arizona’s second possession, but again showed the ability to bounce back from an egregious mistake.
Atlanta was able to recover an onside kick after its first touchdown with 4:30 to play and the Cardinals leading 27-13, but the Falcons were unable to muster anything offensively.
Ellington’s 80-yard touchdown run was the third-longest in Cardinals history, and his 124 first-half rushing yards were the most by any NFL player in the first half this season.
Kicker Jay Feely has made 13 consecutive field goal attempts since missing a 50-yarder in the season opener in Saint Louis, and he’s 13-of-14 on the season.
The Cardinals have a bye next week before hosting the Houston Texans on Nov. 10