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After extension, Johnson takes blame in Cardinals’ loss to Redskins

Arizona Cardinals running back David Johnson (31) is hit by Washington Redskins linebacker Mason Foster (54) during the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Sept. 9, 2018, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)

GLENDALE, Ariz. — Eight-figures in the bank, David Johnson looked willing to carry his money’s worth of the responsibilities early in the season opener Sunday.

Without much help from his Arizona Cardinals teammates, his effort against the Washington Redskins didn’t matter.

Johnson finished with just 67 all-purpose yards and a touchdown by the end of a 24-6 loss for Arizona at State Farm Stadium.

And with that money in the bank, he did what a well-paid leader of an NFL team would. He took the blame himself.

“I’m not even thinking about the contract. I’m thinking about the loss, what I did wrong, mental errors, dropped catches and how bad I played,” Johnson said.

Including 10- and 11-yard first down runs, Johnson carried four times for 24 yards and caught a pass for four yards on Arizona’s first drive of the game. The success would be short-lived as Washington did the logical thing: devote all efforts to shutting down the Cardinals’ back, who signed a three-year contract extension worth $30 million guaranteed on Saturday.

Successful it was.

“I don’t think anything happened,” Johnson said of what went wrong after flashes of success in the first drive. “I missed a couple holes, I didn’t help out … Sam with the blocking. I didn’t play my best game.

“I felt as if me and what I had done hurt the defense ’cause they were on the field longer — like I said, couldn’t convert on third down,” Johnson added. “I’m part to blame. I felt like they were on the field too long not just because of them, but because of us as an offense, because of me not doing my job.”

Washington finished the game with 30 first downs to Arizona’s 14, winning the time of possession 38 minutes to 22 minutes. The Cardinals’ offense sputtered after a few signs of life on their first drive, snapping the ball just 13 times in the first half. By the end of the second quarter, they trailed 21-0.

Not counting Johnson’s 28 yards on the first drive, Arizona only tallied eight more yards, for 36 total, by the end of the first half. The team’s one big offseason concern — finding additional weapons alongside Johnson — looked valid as ever.

He and Larry Fitzgerald accounted for 143 of 213 net yards for the Cardinals by the end of the afternoon.

After the running back, what else can the Cardinals bank on in 2018?

It wasn’t offense. The Cardinals recorded no more first downs in the first half after those two double-digit-yard Johnson runs. Quarterback Sam Bradford threw for just 27 total yards by halftime and finished with 153 passing yards, completing 20-of-34 passes for no scores and an interception.

“When you run 13 plays in the first half, though, it’s tough, but there’s no doubt we have to be better,” Bradford said.

Arizona couldn’t count on the defense, either.

Washington began gashing the Cardinals, if not for explosive plays then at least for big chunks on a series of methodical drives.

Their second possession, which put them ahead 7-0, went 80 yards in just less than six minutes. On their next possession, 15 plays burned more than nine minutes off the clock as former Cardinals running back Adrian Peterson wrapped the drive with a goalline touchdown jaunt.

To cook all but eight seconds off the rest of the first-half clock, the Redskins then went 92 yards in 3:11, attacking seams in the Cardinals’ defense with their backs and piling up yardage by keeping receivers underneath the Arizona secondary to keep the chains moving. Washington quarterback Alex Smith completed 21-of-30 passes for 255 yards, two touchdowns and no picks.

The Redskins rushed for 182 yards, averaging 4.3 per carry.

“It wasn’t good enough,” Arizona head coach Steve Wilks said of the performance by his front seven. “It wasn’t good enough at all. You talk about almost 200 yards rushing (182), unacceptable.”

The defense tightened the screws in the second half, and the offensive picked up a tad of momentum with backup running back and rookie Chase Edmonds sparking a 13-play, 75-yard drive in the fourth that was finished off by Johnson’s two-yard touchdown run, pulling the Cardinals to within 24-6 after a failed two-point conversion.

Avoiding the shutout meant little for a team that also was penalized nine times — seven of those gave Washington a first down.

“Obviously we’re all disappointed in our performance tonight,” Bradford said. “You can’t hang your head. You have to understand that this season is 16 games.”

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