TEMPE, Ariz. — It doesn’t look like much in the box score, but it may have been the most important play in the Arizona Cardinals’ 27-14 win over the Jacksonville Jaguars Sunday.
Timeout #1 by ARZ at 04:46
The Cardinals, up 24-14 and facing a 2nd and 10 from their own 10, ran a play that resulted in Carson Palmer throwing an interception. It was a bad throw on a bad read, and it gave the home team new life.
Except it didn’t count, as Cardinals coach Bruce Arians had asked for a timeout before the play because, as he said Monday, he did not like what he had called for.
“When I called the play, I second-guessed myself,” Arians said Monday. “I don’t normally do that.”
It’s a good thing he did, given that Jaguars linebacker Russell Allen had stepped in front of Larry Fitzgerald to intercept the pass deep in Cardinals territory.
The Cardinals ended up punting three plays later, but the Jaguars having the ball at their own 42 is a much better spot than Arizona’s red zone.
Arians said he was “tired of being stuck down there” and was looking to get the ball away from his own end zone. Though they were not winning the game, the Jaguars were winning the field position battle, and the Cards’ coach wanted to flip the things around.
However, the coach said that was not the right time to run such a play, given the situation and the personnel he had on the field.
“It wasn’t the right guys for that play, it wasn’t the right time — second and long — for that play,” he said. “It was more of a first down call.
“And seeing a little bit, it looked like they were going to be in a two-deep zone, and that’s not what we wanted.”
The coach’s decision helped preserve Palmer’s sterling performance, as the QB completed 30-of-42 passes for 419 yards and two touchdowns. He did not throw an interception (that counted) for the first time as a Cardinal.
And while it may have looked like Arians and the Cardinals caught a break, the coach made sure to point out the team wasn’t nearly as close to disaster as it may have seemed.
“Referee did a good job,” Arians said. “He couldn’t find his whistle but he did run in and stop the play, because I had called timeout a little bit quicker than what it looked like.
“And they let the play continue — and it was one of those gut feelings it was going to be the wrong thing happen at that time, and fortunate for me we got it stopped.”