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Big Red Recap: Cardinals suffer lopsided loss to Eagles

Arizona Cardinals' Carson Palmer reacts during the second half of an NFL football game against the Philadelphia Eagles, Sunday, Oct. 8, 2017, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Michael Perez)

One step forward, two steps back. Such is life for the Arizona Cardinals early in 2017.

A week after climbing back to .500, the Cardinals once again find themselves with a losing record Sunday after dropping a 34-7 decision to the Philadelphia Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field.

It was not pretty.

Playing outdoors for the first time this season, the Cardinals (2-3) spotted the Eagles a 21-point lead.

Philadelphia quarterback Carson Wentz threw three first-quarter touchdowns, two of which were on third down. He added a career-high fourth touchdown toss, again on third down, in the third quarter. The four scores covered 15, 11, 59 and 72 yards.

Wentz finished with 304 passing yards, completing 21-of-30 attempts, and one interception.

The Eagles (4-1), who were 9-of-14 on third down, have won three straight. They out-gained the Cardinals, 419-307, which included 122 rushing yards.

The one and only time the Cardinals put points on the scoreboard came in the second quarter. Arizona quarterback Carson Palmer found receiver John Brown for a 13-yard touchdown to make it a 21-7 ballgame just before halftime.

Palmer was 28-of-44 for 291 yards.

The Cardinals had won two straight against the Eagles, including their last visit to Philadelphia when they clinched the NFC West in 2015. Since that game, however, the Cardinals are 10-14-1.

THE GOOD

In the first quarter, on the Eagles’ opening possession, Cardinals OLB Chandler Jones recorded his fifth sack of the season, dropping Wentz on 2nd-and-4. Those five sacks through the first five games of the season rank as the third-most in franchise history (Curtis Greer 6.5 in 1983, Markus Golden 6.0 in 2016). Jones now has at least one sack in 13 of the 21 games he’s played with the Cardinals.

In the second quarter, Palmer and the offense finally got in sync. A 10-play, 75-yard drive ended with a 13-yard touchdown catch by Brown to pull the Cardinals to within 21-7 at the 11:42 mark of the period. That was the 291st touchdown toss of Palmer’s career, tying him with Hall of Famer Warren Moon for 12th place on the NFL’s all-time list.

With a 15-yard second-quarter catch, Larry Fitzgerald extended his streak with at least one reception to 200 consecutive games, joining Jerry Rice (274) and Tony Gonzalez (211) as the only players in NFL history with such a streak to reach the 200-game mark. Overall, Fitzgerald has at least one catch in 206 of 207 career games played dating back to his rookie season in 2004.

THE BAD

Not bad, but embarrassing. Wentz ended each of the Eagles’ three first-quarter possessions with a touchdown pass, becoming the first Philadelphia quarterback to ever accomplish that feat. And by the way, two of the three tosses came on third down. In fact, the Eagles went 4-of-4 on third down in the period, twice converting on 3rd-and-11.

As if the first quarter wasn’t bad enough, long snapper Aaron Brewer hurt his arm, and Cardinals coach Bruce Arians confirmed it was diagnosed as a broken wrist. Brewer walked back to the locker room with one of the Cardinals trainers. With Brewer out, the long snapping duties were split between right guard Evan Boehm and defensive lineman Josh Mauro. Boehm handled short snaps, such as field goals, while Mauro snapped the football for punts.

Third-down defense continued to be an issue for the Cardinals in the second half, none more glaring than a 3rd-and-19 in the third quarter. Wentz alluded the blitz and threw a 72-yard pass to Nelson Agholor (beating Budda Baker) to extend the home team’s lead to 31-7 at the 6:16 mark of the period. At that point, the Eagles were 8-of-11 on third down.

All streaks end eventually, and for the Cardinals, their run of holding opponents under 100 yards rushing was halted at six consecutive games when, in the third quarter, LeGarrette Blount gained 37 yards on first down. Prior to that play, Blount had totaled 24 yards on seven carries. He had only six yards on two carries in the first half.

STAT OF THE GAME

9-of-14: The Eagles converted 64.3 percent on third down, including three touchdowns. That’s the highest percentage allowed by the Cardinals defense this season.

HE SAID IT

“I told Bettch to blitz him,” head coach Bruce Arians said, referring to defensive coordinator James Bettcher on Wentz’s 72-yard touchdown pass to Agholor on 3rd-and-19 in the third quarter. “That’s on me.”

NOTED

– In the first quarter, defensive lineman Corey Peters hurt his right knee; the good news was he returned in the third.

– In the second quarter, safety Antoine Bethea picked off Wentz for what was his second interception in two games.

– In the third quarter, right tackle Jared Veldheer hurt his knee, which brought rookie Will Holden off the bench to play.

– Also in the third quarter, defensive lineman Olsen Pierre, who earned himself a game ball last week, hurt his ankle.

– For the first time this season, the Cardinals lost the coin toss; the Eagles won and chose to defer to the second half.

– This was the Cardinals’ third 10 a.m. kickoff in five games; they have four total early start times this year.

– Among the Cardinals’ listed inactives were injured offensive linemen Alex Boone (chest) and D.J. Humphries (knee).

UP NEXT

For the second straight season, the Cardinals will play host to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as their Week 6 opponent on Sunday.

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 beat the Buccaneers a year ago, 40-7, and they have won two straight and three of the last five matchups — plus three of the four most recent meetings in Arizona.

Overall, the Cardinals lead 10-9 in a series that dates back to 1977.

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