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Notes from the Nest: Cardinals vs. Saints

GLENDALE, Ariz. — It’s not the final game of the 2016 season, but it is the last one for the Cardinals at University of Phoenix Stadium.

Arizona, which enters the game with a 5-7-1 record, is nearing the completion of one of the more disappointing seasons in recent memory. Where once there were Super Bowl expectations there is now the lamenting of a season that could have been special but instead is what it is.

Almost over.

It will be interesting to see how the Cardinals come out today, with the playoffs not really a goal and a week that was, well, interesting. They maintained they wanted to finish the season strong, and that would start with one final victory at home. Will they get it?

Let’s find out. The Cardinals will get the ball first.


End of game

Brees hit Fleener for a first down and this one is over. Cardinals lose 48-41, and will finish the season with a losing record no matter what happens the rest of the way.

2:00 left in fourth quarter

Saints have run a couple times and gotten six yards. It is now 3rd and 4. Get a stop here, and the Cards still have a chance.

Still 2:19 left in fourth quarter

Catanzaro’s kick took a good bounce, but went out of bounds. Saints will have the ball at their own 48.

2:19 left in fourth quarter

And on the next play, Palmer hit an open John Brown down the sideline for a score. The PAT was good and the Cardinals are within 7 at 48-41. Have to think they’ll go with an onside kick here.

2:25 left in fourth quarter

Cardinals are moving down the field — would have probably already scored if JJ Nelson didn’t drop a beautiful pass from Palmer on a deep ball — and have it first and 10 at the 30. They just used their second timeout.

3:27 left in fourth quarter

Saints got the first and then a play later Tim Hightower ran it in for a score, and this one looks over.

3:38 left in fourth quarter

Saints were moving but on 3rd and 8 Brees was sacked by Kevin Minter, but the Cardinals were flagged for unnecessary roughness on the play. It was a big call, because the sack took the Saints out of field goal range. Also, according to replays, it was a terrible call. Saints get to the Arizona five where a pass gets batted in the air and almost picked, but falls incomplete. Third down, they need two.

5:13 left in fourth quarter

Palmer went deep on the first two plays — both of which were incomplete — and then on third down a short pass to Brittan Golden was fumbled and recovered by the Saints. Play is under review, but they should be taking over at the Arizona 29.

Stiller 5:33 left in fourth quarter

Kick is a touchback. Cardinals take over at their 25 needing a TD and PAT.

Still 5:33 left in fourth quarter

The PAT was good and on it, Justin Bethel was again offsides. Not his best game. Saints are up 41-34.

5:33 left in fourth quarter

A couple plays later, Brees hits Thomas for a four-yard touchdown to put the Saints back on top.

Still 7:36 left in fourth quarter

Ruling on the field stands, and Arians is visibly not pleased. Regardless, next play was a Brees pass to Cooks for a 32 yard gain, and the Saints are once again in business.

7:36 left in fourth quarter

Saints get a first down and then a run goes for a few yards before Brees hits Cooks for an apparent 14-yard gain. However, it was right in front of Bruce Arians, who was quick to get his challenge flag ready before throwing it onto the field. It looks like Cooks only got one foot down, which would mean this should be an incomplete pass.

Still 8:57 left in fourth quarter

Kickoff is a touchback and Arizona’s defense, which hasn’t offered much resistance, is back on the field.

8:57 left in fourth quarter

And then there was David Johnson. He took a carry up the middle, made a couple moves and got to the end zone. He’s now comfortably over 100 total yards, and with the PAT we are tied 34-34.

10:13 left in fourth quarter

Palmer has hit JJ Nelson, Darren Fells and Jermaine Gresham on this drive, but it’s worth noting that David Johnson, with a couple of runs, has surpassed the 100-yard mark for the game. Assuming he doesn’t start going backwards, he has set an NFL record. Also, with a good gain to Nelson again, the Cardinals are at the NO 7.

Still 12:59 left in fourth quarter

Kickoff is a touchback, so Cardinals take over at their 25.

12:59 left in fourth quarter

Next play is a Tim Hightower TD run, and with the PAT the Saints are up 34-27. Terrible penalty from Bethel adds four points to the deficit.

13:04 left in fourth quarter

Cardinals forced a field goal attempt — which was good — but Justin Bethel was offsides and now the Saints have a fresh set of downs at the Arizona 4. That penalty is a killer. Wow. Can’t have that.

End of third quarter

The Saints get another nice pass — short stuff has turned into drives — and have a fresh set of downs at the Cardinals 15 as we head into the fourth.

1:58 left in third quarter

Saints took over at their 25 but a couple passes in and they are at the Arizona 41. That’s how this game has gone.

Still 3:19 left in third quarter

The PAT was good, and we’re all tied up. High drama in the desert.

3:23 left in third quarter

A 25-yard pass to David Johnson got things going, and a pass interference on a pass to Hakeem Valles put the Cardinals at the two. David Johnson ran it in from there, and this game will be tied up, you know, if Catanzaro can make the PAT.

5:58 left in third quarter

Third down pass fell incomplete, and Lutz came on and made a field goal to make the score 27-20. Return is brought to the Arizona 38, which is where the offense will go to work.

Still 6:15 left in third quarter

Call stands, so it’s third down.

6:15 left in third quarter

Brees fired a pass to Snead in the end zone and it looked like, at least for a moment, he caught the ball for a TD, but the pass was ruled incomplete and it did sort of look like the ball squirted out. Saints coach Sean Payton challenged the call, though, so now the refs will take a look. If overturned, it’s a touchdown. If not, it will be 3rd and 5 from the 21.

7:55 left in third quarter

The Saints have moved the ball well with short passes, and on one of them Cardinals CB Marcus Cooper suffered a back injury and left the game. A Brees pass to Brandin Cooks on third down gives NO a fresh set of downs at the Arizona 26.

12:03 left in third quarter

The Cardinals forced a punt and got good field position, but didn’t do much with it and ended up punting themselves. Wile’s kick is a 32-yard boot that is fair caught at the 11.

15:00 left in third quarter

Kickoff sails out of the end zone and the Saints will begin at their 25. Arizona’s defense was getting beat up pretty good toward the end of the first half, interested to see what kind of adjustments have been made.

Halftime

Looking for a Hail Mary, Drew Brees scrambles before being sacked by Calais Campbell. It is Campbell’s second sack of the game, and it sends this game to halftime with a 24-20 score.

:40 left in second quarter

Johnson went out wide and Palmer threw a beautiful pass to JJ Nelson in the corner of the end zone. The touchdown was followed by a successful PAT, and the Cards get back on the board to make the score 24-20. Nice drive from Arizona.

:45 left in second quarter

A third-down catch by John Brown and now an eight-yard completion to Larry Fitzgerald puts the ball at the New Orleans 10. Cardinals need two yards for a first, and with one timeout left may consider a run.

1:16 left in second quarter

The Cardinals started their next drive at the 20, and followed a 23-yard pass to Jermaine Gresham with a 12-yard toss to Jon Brown. Arizona is at the New Orleans 44.

1:51 left in second quarter

Brees his Cooks, who was running across the middle having beat Tyrann Mathieu on the play. The receiver took it in for a touchdown — his second of the day — and the Saints are up 24-13.

2:00 left in second quarter

A Tim Hightower run goes for six yards and the Saints have a 3rd and 4 at the Arizona 45. With the score 17-13 and New Orleans getting the ball to start the second half, them coming up with points on this drive would certainly be beneficial.

Drew Brees has been solid, showing why he is still one of the best QBs in the game. However, the Saint’s success on the ground has been surprising.

3:32 left in second quarter

Cardinals got the first down but not much more, and Matt Wile, who replaced Drew Butler at punter, was brought in. A 36-yard punt later, the Saints take over at their own 38.

5:48 left in second quarter

Because of a penalty on what was already not a great return, the Cardinals took over at their own 8. A pass to Jermaine Gresham gave them some breathing room and set up a nice 2nd and 1 situation.

6:11 left in second quarter

After a quick pass moved the ball a little, Brees hit a wide open Brandin Cooks for a 65-yard touchdown. DJ Swearinger was the closest Cardinal, though unsure if he was responsible for the speedy receiver. The PAT was good, and now the score is 17-13, Saints.

7:08 left in second quarter

The Saints went play action and got the first down, but then a couple plays later Markus Golden hits Drew Brees, forcing a fumble. The ball was scooped up by Calais Campbell, who ran 53 yards for the score. Poetic.

Chandler Catanzaro’s PAT was no good, however, and the score is 13-10 Cardinals.

8:20 left in second quarter

Saints are in Arizona territory but it’s 4th and 1 after a run went for a yard when the Saints needed two. If not for a good tackle by Sio Moore, this situation probably never arises, as his shoestring stop of Ingram prevented a first a couple plays earlier. The Saints lined up ready to go for it, but called a timeout. Reconsidering?

11:26 left in second quarter

A sack of Palmer set the Cardinals back, and after David Johnson had a good gain Palmer just missed a wide open John Brown for what would have been a touchdown. Have to figure the connection between the QB and WR isn’t quite where it normally is given how much time Brown has missed with his illness, but still, that’s the type of play they need to make.

Catanzaro’s long field goal attempt is no good, and the Saints will get the ball at their own 45.

End of first quarter

The first frame ends with a 14-yard pass from Palmer to David Johnson on a wheel route. It was a nice throw, floated perfectly. The Cardinals are at their 46.

:11 left in first quarter

Kerwynn Williams got another handoff — this one for a couple yards — and it’s interesting that the Cardinals are using him a lot in the backfield with David Johnson as a receiver.

1:26 left in first quarter

Return gets the Cardinals to the 25, which is where the offense will take over once again.

1:33 left in first quarter

The Cardinals seemed ready to hold the Saints to another field goal, but a facemask on Markus Golden negated a third-down stop, and then a few plays later Brees found Travaris Cadet for a 10-yard touchdown and with the PAT, New Orleans is up 10-7.

4:32 left in first quarter

A decent David Johnson run was followed by a short pass to Larry Fitzgerald who, while fighting for extra yards, fumbled. The Saints recovered at the Arizona 30.

5:18 left in first quarter

The kick return goes for 26 yards and the Cardinals take over at their 26. The offense had a good first drive, though it was interesting.

5:27 left in first quarter

A Calais Campbell sack sent the Saints back, and they were unable to recover from there. This may be Campbell’s last home game as a Cardinal, and he said he wanted to come out and have a good performance. The Saints got conservative after that, and ended up netting a 37-yard field goal from Wil Lutz to get on the board.

The score is now Cardinals 7, Saints 3.

7:44 left in first quarter

The Brees stuff is almost irrelevant, as the Saints are just killing the Cardinals on the ground. Another nice run from Ingram, an 11-yarder,  gets them a first deeper into Arizona territory.

8:58 left in first quarter

The Saints are having success against Arizona’s defense, and now — after a false start – have a second and six from the Arizona 33. So far, no pass rush against Brees.

12:09 left in first quarter

Kevin Minter broke up a pass on first down but on second down an Ingram run went through a big hole for 14 yards to get to the New Orleans 40. Tony Jefferson was injured on the play but jogged off the field under his own power.

12:27 left in first quarter

A short pass to Larry Fitzgerald got the Cardinals another first down, and then Arizona put Williams in at QB to run the Wildcat. He faked a handoff to Johnson and then sprinted around the edge for a 49-yard touchdown. The PAT was good and the Cardinals are now up 7-0.

13:35 left in first quarter

The first carry of the game went to Kerwynn Williams and the first completion went to Andre Ellington. OK. After getting a first down, the handoff to David Johnson went for four yards and put the Cardinals on their own 40.

 

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