Cardinals win over Colts buys time to fix widespread issues

Sep 17, 2017, 3:14 PM | Updated: 6:21 pm
Indianapolis Colts' Malik Hooker (29) makes an interception on a pass intended for Arizona Cardinal...
Indianapolis Colts' Malik Hooker (29) makes an interception on a pass intended for Arizona Cardinals' J.J. Nelson, center, during the first half of an NFL football game Sunday, Sept. 17, 2017, in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)
(AP Photo/Michael Conroy)

Don’t go mistaking what you watched on Sunday for salvation. The Arizona Cardinals raised far too many concerns in a 16-13 overtime victory over the Colts in Indianapolis to feel good about the team’s direction.

All this win did was buy the Cardinals more time to fix what is ailing them. A lot is ailing them.

“Sometimes, you’ve got to weather the storm,” safety Tyrann Mathieu told Arizona Sports’ Paul Calvisi after his interception in overtime set up Phil Dawson’s game-winning, 30-yard field goal. “I don’t think any of us played well for the first three quarters.”

He’s right.

Phil Dawson missed his second field goal attempt in six official tries this season, and his miss at the end of regulation could have cost the Cardinals this game and put their season on thin ice.

The banged up offensive line had protection issues and blocking issues again, albeit without starting left tackle D.J. Humphries and starting left guard Mike Iupati.

The running game produced just 83 yards without running back David Johnson and the passing game was missing in action for three quarters without John Brown and Jermaine Gresham.

That matters, but it should not have mattered so much against a team that lost 46-9 to the lowly Los Angeles Rams last week. It should not have required last-second heroics against quarterback Jacoby Brissett, who has been with the Colts for two weeks after Indy acquired him from the Patriots for wide receiver Phillip Dorsett.

At halftime, Calvisi asked Cardinals coach Bruce Arians why the offense wasn’t clicking.

Arians offered a one-word answer: “quarterback.”

It wasn’t entirely fair given the struggles of the protection in front of him, but Carson Palmer led the Cardinals to just three points through three quarters, he threw his fourth interception of the season (and nearly threw two more) at the Indianapolis 3-yard line, and he did not find the end zone until 7:38 remained in the fourth quarter against a pass defense that Jared Goff shredded last week for 306 yards and seven plays of 20-plus yards.

Palmer completed 19 of 36 passes.

“We just shot ourselves in the foot offensively,” Arians said.

The offense “is really not a concern,” Palmer said afterward. “We just are going to get back to work. Obviously we’d like more production, more touchdowns. But I’m not down or concerned.”

It’s hard to judge a defensive effort when the opponent features an inexperienced quarterback, but at least the defense gave the Cardinals a chance to win on the road by holding the Colts offense in check for most of the game. They’ll get a much stiffer test on Monday Night Football against the Dallas Cowboys on Sept. 25 at University of Phoenix Stadium.

“We’ve just got to continue to fight, continue to weather the storm and continue to build on all the plays that we do make during games,” Mathieu said.

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