Offseason pickups Bynes, Williams play big roles for Cardinals vs. Titans

Dec 10, 2017, 8:48 PM | Updated: 8:59 pm
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Among the many Arizona Cardinals stepping up in a gutty 12-7 win over the Tennessee Titans on Sunday, two stood out not only because of the timeliness but because of the road they took to become key pieces to the defense.

They were each offseason acquisitions by general manager Steve Keim who made Arizona’s red zone deficiencies on offense a concern for another day.

Backup linebacker Josh Bynes and No. 2 cornerback Tramon Williams were signed when injuries ate into the Cardinals’ depth.

Bynes joined Arizona when linebacker Gabe Martin went down with an Achilles injury in August, while Williams was added in late July when Ronald Zamort, then fighting for the No. 2 cornerback job opposite Patrick Peterson, went down for the year with a torn ACL. Williams has since fought his way into the starting cornerback role, while Bynes has remained in the rotation despite the linebacker group deep with healthy, productive bodies.

“He was in a backup role today, but when he was in there, he was making plays,” head coach Bruce Arians said of Bynes. “He probably leads the team, by far, in film study. He is always prepared.”

Arizona needed every one of his plays on Sunday.

After getting on the board with a field goal in the second half to trail 7-3, the Titans were at their own 35-yard line when they faked a punt on 4th-and-1. Bynes and running back Elijhaa Penny, as part of their special teams duties, stuffed an Eric Weems run up the middle for a play that, after review, led to a turnover on downs.

A Cardinals field goal later, Tennessee was threatening and at Arizona’s 27-yard line when Williams made a diving grab at the 4-yard line and returned it 12 yards.

Arizona led 9-7 with six minutes remaining in the game when Bynes picked off the first Marcus Mariota pass on the next Titans possession.

He returned it 25 yards before a late hit out of bounds moved the ball all the way to the Tennessee 15, and Arizona would tack on its fourth Dawson field goal.

“Honestly I kind of bit up on the play-action a little bit and just started melting back and trying to figure out exactly where to melt because I saw the tight end go out,” Bynes said. “There I was for the pick.”

Pro Football Focus rated Williams as the best performer of the day, as he gave up three receptions for 23 yards and added a pass defensed, not to mention a key hit that led to a Delanie Walker dropped third-down catch on the Titans’ final drive.

“I can’t say enough about the defense,” Arians said. “Offensively, we left a lot of plays out there on the field today, but we made enough to win the game. It was one of those things; it was a true team effort. I couldn’t be prouder of the guys.

“(Defensive coordinator James Bettcher) put them in good positions, and we’ve got good one-on-one guys,” the head coach said of the secondary on the final drive. “You put our guys in those situations, they’re going to win most of the time, especially with the pass rush that we have.”

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Offseason pickups Bynes, Williams play big roles for Cardinals vs. Titans