Big Red Recap: Despite Fitzgerald’s big night, Cardinals can’t fend off Cowboys
GLENDALE, Ariz. — As great as Larry Fitzgerald is, he can’t do it by himself.
Fitzgerald shined under the national spotlight, but as a team, the Arizona Cardinals looked dull. They lost, 28-17, to the Dallas Cowboys in front of a sold-out University of Phoenix Stadium on Monday Night Football.
Fitzgerald tied a career-high with 13 catches for 149 yards and a touchdown. His third-quarter score tied the game at 14, but the Cardinals (1-2) were outscored 14-3 in the fourth quarter and dropped their home opener.
Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott led back-to-back scoring drives, including a go-ahead 37-yard touchdown to Brice Butler.
Prescott accounted for three touchdowns, two passing and one rushing, while the Cowboys (2-1) defense harassed Carson Palmer all night.
Palmer went 29-of-48 for 325 yards and two touchdowns, but he was sacked six times and hit 11 more times.
The Cardinals had won four straight over the Cowboys.
Perhaps Palmer should lose the weekly quarterback challenge more often. Forced to wear a unicorn around his waist pregame, Palmer completed his first 11 passes for 130 yards, including a 25-yard touchdown to Jaron Brown on the opening possession of the game. On the drive, Palmer was 5-of-5 for 82 yards with three completions of 20+ yards. Plus, he threw to five different receivers. Palmer finished the first quarter 12-of-13 for 135 yards.
Three games into the season and Chandler Jones has four sacks. He recorded his fourth in the second quarter with the Cowboys faced with a 3rd-and-12. The four-sack total matches Curtis Greer (4.0 in both 1983 and 1985) for the most in franchise history through the first three games of a season. Chandler also now has at least one sack in five straight games dating back to last season; that’s the second-longest streak in franchise history.
When in doubt, just throw the ball to Fitzgerald. The Cardinals did twice on their third-quarter game-tying scoring drive, 14-14 at the 3:13 mark. First, Fitzgerald caught a 37-yard deep ball and then two plays later, it was 15 yards for a touchdown, the 105th of his career. Only seven players in NFL history have more. With the yardage on the catch, Fitzgerald passed Marvin Harrison (14,580) to move into eighth place on the all-time receiving yardage list.
For the third time in as many games, Phil Dawson missed a field goal. He pushed a 36-yard attempt wide right in the second quarter. The three misses, one in each game, matches Dawson’s total from all of last season. He also missed three in 2015. Overall, the Cardinals have failed on 10 field goal attempts in the past two years, tying them with Washington for the most in the NFL according to ESPN Stats & Info.
Statistically, the Cardinals dominated the first half. They outgained the Cowboys 152-57. Yet, the score was tied at the break, 7-7. Handed excellent starting field position at the Arizona 33 and aided by a pair of defensive penalties (Marcus Golden offsides and Patrick Peterson holding), the Cowboys needed only three plays to score: Prescott a 10-yard run for a touchdown at the 1:11 mark of the second quarter.
Through the first half, Dez Bryant had one catch for minus-three yards. Yet, it was Bryant on the receiving end of a 15-yard touchdown pass from Prescott to put the Cowboys in front, 14-7, at the 8:31 mark of the third quarter. Bryant broke a pair of tackles and then carried a handful of defenders into the end zone for the go-ahead score. Earlier on the drive, Elliott had a 20-yard run, his second-best run of the game.
A week after a career-low eight rushing yards, Elliott exploded for 80. He had a touchdown as well, an eight-yard run to cap a four-play, 75-yard drive that took 1:38 off the clock and put the Cowboys ahead by double digits, 28-17, at the 4:57 mark of the fourth quarter. By the way, Elliott’s best run of the game was a 30-yard gain in the second quarter to convert a 3rd-and-1 for Dallas’ first first down of the game.
STAT OF THE GAME
6: Palmer was sacked a season-high six times, including three times by DeMarcus Lawrence, who now has seven on the season
HE SAID IT
“It was a great effort, we just got to play a lot smarter,” head coach Bruce Arians said, adding about the loss, “I’m not looking to make excuses.”
– Fitzgerald extended his streak with at least one reception to 198 consecutive games with a first-quarter catch.
– Fitzgerald had a career-high six first-quarter catches, while his eight first-half catches matched a career high.
– Palmer became the fourth quarterback in NFL history to pass for at least 100+ touchdowns for multiple teams.
– Among the Cardinals inactives included dollar linebacker Deone Bucannon and offensive lineman Mike Iupati.
– Grammy nominated recording artist and Arizona native Jordin Sparks sang the national anthem prior to kickoff.
– 90s hip hop artists Young MC and Montell Jordan performed along with the Cardinals Cheerleaders at halftime.
Division play begins.
The Cardinals get their first look at the NFC West with a home game against the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday, Oct. 1. Kickoff is scheduled for 1:05 p.m. with pregame coverage beginning four hours earlier on 98.7 FM Arizona’s Sports Station.
The Cardinals have won five of the past six matchups, including season sweeps in each of the past two years. They also own a three-game home winning streak against the 49ers, a team that went 2-14 a year ago and made a coaching change, hiring Kyle Shanahan, formerly the Atlanta Falcons offensive coordinator.
Overall, the Cardinals trail 22-29 in a series that dates back to 1951.