‘There’s no way to win.’
That’s the response Arizona Cardinals head coach Bruce Arians gave in his post-game interview Sunday when asked what he would have said if someone had told him that his quarterback would throw four interceptions and his team lose the turnover battle by a wide margin on the road against the best squad in the conference.
Yet despite all the odds stacked against them — both internally because of mistakes and externally given the elements and notoriously loud home crowd — the Cardinals found a way to win Sunday by a final of 17-10.
It wasn’t always pretty, in fact for large stretches it was nothing but a battle for field position, but Arians and Co. kept their playoff hopes alive thanks to a 60-minute from the defense and a timely touchdown pass from Carson Palmer.
“[This win was about] the resiliency of our football team,” Arians said. “We started off getting big plays, and then gave it away. Our defense played well the whole game.
“They had been playing super and then they gave up a touchdown. It looked like, ‘Hey, here we go.’ And then the offense rebounds, goes and gets the score. The two-point play was huge to get the lead to seven. And then the turnover. It’s over when we put Stepfan [Taylor] and he busts the run. Game, set and match.”
In the come-from-behind road victory, Arizona allowed 192 total yards and limited Russell Wilson to career lows in multiple categories including passing yards and completion percentage.
“They were dominating,” Arians said of the defense. “It was fun to watch. And the next man steps up every week. Tony Jefferson [in place of Rashad Johnson] lit up and played great like I knew he would. Each man that plays, plays fast, hard and physical. That’s how we want to play.”
It’s a mindset that has allowed the Cardinals to beat up on several playoff-bound teams like the Carolina Panthers, Indianapolis Colts and Seahawks.
Asked what this latest statement win should signal to the rest of the league, Arians didn’t hesitate.
“They just better hope they don’t let us in the dance.”
Even though the Cardinals have clinched their first 10-win season since 2009 with Sunday’s win, reaching the dance won’t be entirely up to them.
Arizona can reach the playoffs with a win next Sunday and a San Francisco 49ers’ loss on Monday or a win next Sunday and a New Orleans Saints’ loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Still, becoming the first team since Dec. 24, 2011 to win at CenturyLink Field was pretty gratifying for the first-year head coach to say the least.
“This goes up there pretty high,” said Arians on where the win ranks in his career. “I wish it was a playoff game. You wish you were going home for the second round of the playoffs having beaten a team like this on the road.
“This is a huge win, and I’ve been lucky to be a part of a bunch of them.”