Arizona Cardinals defense shines in win over San Francisco
Oct 7, 2018, 2:57 PM | Updated: 8:58 pm
(AP Photo/Ben Margot)
The San Francisco 49ers moved the ball with ease on their first possession against the Arizona Cardinals on Sunday.
But for the rest of the way, it was all Cardinals defense.
All tolled, the defense recorded five takeaways, including a defensive touchdown, in the team’s 28-18 win over the 49ers.
Following the early 49er score and a deep touchdown pass from rookie quarterback Josh Rosen to wide receiver Christian Kirk to give the team a 7-6 lead, Arizona’s defense stiffened up.
With 8:30 left to play in the first quarter, C.J. Beathard went back to pass, looking for wideout Pierre Garcon on the slant. Garcon couldn’t come down with the bullet pass as he tipped it high into the air, right in the direction of safety Tre Boston.
Boston made a diving play on the ball, catching it right before it hit the turf, giving Rosen and the Cardinals another shot on offense.
The defense continued their ball-hawking ways in the second quarter, courtesy of Chandler Jones and Patrick Peterson.
As Beathard went back to pass, he was met head-on by Jones, who knocked the ball out of the signal caller’s hand as he took him to the ground.
That’s when Peterson stepped in to finish the play.
Peterson scooped up the bouncing ball and found open space down the sideline, taking it 40 yards to the 49ers’ 20-yard line.
Running back David Johnson would do the rest of the work as he found pay dirt on a two-yard run to extend the Cardinals lead.
At the half, the defense had one sack, a fumble recovery and an interception.
But they weren’t done yet.
Early in the third quarter, Jones continued to be an issue for the 49ers as he was able to get to Beathard for the sack, knocking the ball out in the process.
He would cap off the day by forcing an incompletion on a critical two-point conversion try to keep the Cardinals on top 14-12.
We won in the turnover battle,” Jones said after the game. “The coaches are always preaching takeaways, takeaways and that’s what we did.”
For the Cardinals defense, the takeaway flood gates have been close all season to being pushed wide open.
“I joked about it a few weeks ago about being six inches. When I say six inches, I’m talking about literally six inches away from making a play,” defensive coordinator Al Holcomb said of the missed chances his defensive unit has had through four weeks on Thursday. “That’s how close we are from game-changing type plays.”
And that they were as Bynes provided the knockout punch late in the fourth quarter.
Not only did he get to the quarterback and force the ball loose, he was there to pick it up and take it 25 yards for the score.
“We even scored on defense, that was huge,” Jones said of the defensive unit. “Hopefully we can get that snowball rolling and this is just the beginning.”
Bynes was all over the field for Arizona, making 11 tackles, one sack, a pass defensed and forcing and recovering a fumble for a touchdown.
“Guys were just coming to the ball. We were just trying to make plays,” Bynes said postgame. “We emphasized it all week, attacking the ball and I think guys did that this week with trying to reach and knock the ball out.
“You couldn’t ask for a better group of guys to get the turnovers we got today.”
As a unit, the Cardinals netted four sacks, eight passes defensed, a touchdown and five total takeaways.
Entering play on Sunday, the defense had just four total takeaways in 16 quarters.