Nearing the end of the first half Thursday night, you just got the feeling somebody in an Arizona Cardinals uniform needed to make a play to shift momentum in another uninspiring performance, and possibly the season.
The Cardinals got two such plays over the next few minutes of game play — and they came from two of the biggest players on the team.
Calais Campbell and Ifeanyi Momah made two of those game-changing, momentum-shifting plays that helped the Cardinals to a 33-21 win over the San Francisco 49ers at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara.
San Francisco led 7-0 in the waning moments of the first half. Facing a 3rd-and-10 from their own 24-yard line, the 49ers opted to throw the football. Chandler Jones deflected the Blaine Gabbert pass and 6-foot-8 defensive end Calais Campbell came down with the interception that gave the Cardinals the ball and new life at the San Francisco 21-yard line.
On the very next play, quarterback Drew Stanton found a wide-open Larry Fitzgerald, who separated from 49ers corner Tramaine Brock and waltzed into the end zone to tie the game.
On the opening kickoff of the second half, the 6-foot-7 Momah hustled downfield to jar the ball out of the arms of San Francisco returner Chris Davis. In the same motion, Momah jumped on the football at the San Francisco 14-yard line.
The Cardinals later scored on a David Johnson 4-yard touchdown run to grab their first lead at 14-7.
They wouldn’t look back.
Campbell commented on his third career interception and first since 2014. “It put us in good position to score a touchdown. The defense made an awesome play,” he said. “Stanton came through and made some big time plays for us. That was a heck of a play.”
Momah’s huge special teams play — for a unit that has been maligned so far this season — continued the momentum for the Cardinals.
“Oh, that set the whole tempo. We talked about it at halftime,” Arians said. “The defense doesn’t start the second half, it’s the kickoff team. And we were going to kick it deep to make them return it. And Mo, I gave the whole kickoff/cover team a game ball for that. That turned the whole game around I thought.”
With the victory, the Cardinals improve their record to 2-3 and return home to host the New York Jets on Monday Night Football on Oct. 17.
- Former Cardinals assistant Brentson Buckner hooks on with Buccaneers
- SI’s King could see free agent QB A.J. McCarron landing with Cardinals
- Al Roker missed Larry Fitzgerald’s non-retirement news
- Cardinals’ 2017 rookie class deemed ‘underwhelming’ by one NFL expert
- Thoughts from Newsmakers Week, Days 4 and 5: Keim, McDonough visit