Rapid Reaction: By beating Titans, Cardinals show fight
No touchdowns, no problem. The Arizona Cardinals used four second-half field goals from Phil Dawson and productive defensive efforts throughout the roster to drop the Tennessee Titans, 12-7, on Sunday at University of Phoenix Stadium.
Here’s some quick reaction to the game from the staff of 98.7 FM Arizona’s Sports Station and ArizonaSports.com.
Of course, you can get more reaction Monday starting at 6 a.m. with Doug & Wolf and continuing with The Blitz with Bertrand Berry & Mike Jurecki and Bickley & Marotta — who will both broadcast from the Cardinals practice facility in Tempe. Then, Burns & Gambo will wrap up the day’s analysis on your drive home from 2-6 p.m.
John Gambadoro, Co-host of Burns & Gambo
Without Carson Palmer. Without David Johnson. And with a makeshift offensive line that couldn’t protect Blaine Gabbert all game, the Cardinals won a game the way they need to win games right now. With defense.
Arizona turned in a stellar defensive performance in a come-from-behind 12-7 win over Tennessee. I will stay away from calling it winning ugly and a boring game. To me, that was a good, hard-fought victory and I see nothing wrong with it. Phil Dawson missed a 40-yard field goal but came back and redeemed himself by hitting from 32 and 35 after the miss — he ended up with four field goals.
Big defensive plays in the second half fueled this victory. A three-and-out on the Titans’ opening possession that was aided by a huge special teams stop on a fake punt on 4th-and-1, a timely interception by Tramon Williams on the Titans’ third possession, a tackle two yards shy of the first down marker on a 3rd-and-4 by Tyrann Mathieu on the third possession, an INT by Josh Bynes on the fourth possession and big sack by Haason Reddick on the fifth possession.
No need to apologize for this one. The offense had its struggles, but in a game in which the Cardinals needed field goals — and not touchdowns — because of their defense, they got just enough offense to make it count. A Chad Williams sighting was a sight for sore eyes — a blazing 33 yard run on a reverse to set up a field goal that put Arizona up for the first time, 9-7.
Running back Kerwynn Williams continues to impress with some big runs, including an 18-yard burst in the second half that set up a field goal — he finished with 73 yards. Bruce Arians has his team playing hard, not packing it in.
Vince Marotta, Co-host of Bickley & Marotta
It’s not very often that the Cardinals win football games without scoring a touchdown.
In fact, Sunday’s 12-7 triumph over the Tennessee Titans was only the fifth time the Cardinals have won a game without visiting the end zone, and the first time since a 2014 win over the Rams in St. Louis.
Yes, Phil Dawson kicked four field goals to supply the offense, but this win had defense written all over it.
Arizona held Tennessee to just 204 total yards, and only 65 on the ground — the team’s second-lowest single-game output of the season.
Bruce Arians talked about how his team is hard to run on at University of Phoenix Stadium and teams that want to do it will ultimately have to rely on their quarterback to leave town with a win. Marcus Mariota was leaned on by the Titans, but he couldn’t muster much of anything in this game. Mariota completed 16-of-31 passes for 159 yards and two interceptions. He was also sacked three times in the contest.
The Cardinals are starting to take the form of a horror movie villain — you know, you think he’s dead, but he lets out a giant gasp of air only to terrorize more kids at a summer camp. At 6-7, they do have a little air left in their lungs, especially if you consider the quality and physical condition of the teams left on their schedule.
Dave Burns, Co-host of Burns & Gambo
The Cardinals are 3-1 vs. the AFC South this year with wins over the Colts, the Jags and now the Titans. Does that make them the division champs? Maybe in some bizarro parallel universe, but not here. For the second time this year, the Cards have posted a win against a quality squad. Say what you want about the Titans but at the start of this day that was a playoff team.
The Cards’ defense was the star, limiting the Titans’ offense to 65 yards rushing. Bruce Arians pointed out after the game that on days like this they want to make the other team’s QB beat them. Marcus Mariota could not, as evidenced by his two second half picks. Two Keim-time specials, cornerback Tramon Williams and linebacker Josh Bynes, were responsible for the picks. Bynes in particular has been a real find this season.
Offensively, it was a struggle to keep Blaine Gabbert upright. And when he was upright it was a struggle for him to complete throws he should have made like a missed touchdown to Fitz. But he didn’t turn the ball over so it wasn’t a complete loss. In a vacuum, Phil Dawson’s eighth missed field goal of the year would be something to get upset about. He made his other four attempts and was responsible for all the Cards’ points Sunday, so it’s quickly forgotten.
Craig Grialou, reporter
If only the Cardinals could play in the AFC South, at least for this season. The Cardinals own that division. They’ve now beaten Tennessee, Jacksonville and Indianapolis with their lone loss to Tom Savage and the Houston Texans.
So, what do we make of Sunday’s performance? For starters, it’s a win. And it’s hard to win in the NFL.
Other than that, with the playoffs likely out of reach, you can’t say enough about the Cardinals’ rushing offense and rushing defense.
Once again, Kerwynn Williams, cracked ribs and all, stepped in for an injured Adrian Peterson and proved he belongs in the league. His 73 rushing yards (and the team’s 136 rushing yards overall) came against the NFL’s third-best run defense. Speaking of defense, the Cardinals held the Titans to 65 yards on the ground, just 10 yards in the second half.
It’s efforts like these that, while good to see and read about, can be frustrating because it’s fair to ask, “Where has this been all season?”
Despite all of the above, the Cardinals are still a sub-.500 team that still has not won back-to-back games this season. They’ll get another opportunity to change that next week.