TEMPE, Ariz. – A lot went wrong for the Arizona Cardinals in their 37-34 win over the Tennessee Titans Sunday, especially on the defensive side of the ball.
One of the best units in the league, the Cardinals were shredded for 460 yards of offense by the Titans, with quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick completing 36-of-58 passes for 402 yards and four touchdowns.
Two of those touchdowns — along with a field goal — came during the final 6:50 of the game as the Cardinals lost a 34-17 lead.
Much of the struggles can be attributed to Fitzpatrick and the Titans simply making plays, as he used his feet and his arm to repeatedly burn what has been a pretty stout secondary.
However, some of the Cardinals’ misfortune was of the self-inflicted variety, mostly via penalties and all in the second half.
In fact, after the Cardinals took a 13-10 lead early in the third quarter, the Titans mounted a 15-play, 74-yard touchdown drive. Arizona was flagged for four separate penalties on the drive. Each flag granted the Titans a first down, and two of them came after the defense appeared to get a third down stop.
Some were questionable, to say the least, and it seems as though the Cardinals have become a bit of a penalty magnet. In all, they were flagged nine times for 69 yards against the Titans.
“I don’t get concerned with penalties,” coach Bruce Arians said. “They’re out of my hands.”
It’s a much different perspective than the one Arians brought to the table just two weeks ago, when he voiced displeasure over the officials who handled the team’s game against the Philadelphia Eagles.
Afterward, Arians said he sent upwards of 15 plays that he thought were called incorrectly to the league. A guest of Arizona Sports’ Bickley with Marotta, he said about that many were delivered after Sunday’s win in Tennessee.
The biggest difference, really, is that unlike two weks ago in Philadelphia, this time the Cardinals were able to overcome any perceived bad calls to pull out a much-needed win.
“There were some weird things that happened, some weird things that weren’t called in this game,” quarterback Carson Palmer offered up when asked about the defense’s off game. “I don’t know what the penalty was as far as who had more penalties — I’m pretty sure we had more penalties than they did.
“It was just a weird game, kind of an eerie game like that. I just knew that our defense would come through when they had to, and they did.”
Indeed, the defense survived the officials and itself to make enough plays and put the Cardinals in position to win the game. Had they not, the officiating would likely be a subplot in the story of the team’s epic collapse in Tennessee.
But as Arians noted, the penalties are not of much concern to him. Now, is that because he didn’t think they were penalties or is it just that he appreciates his team’s aggressive nature?
“I’m going to pass on that one,” he said with a smile. “I’m tired of talking about officials.”
Fair enough, but the coach was then asked if it is easier to have that mindset after a win.
“Yes, it is.”