Rapid Reactions: Cardinals snap 6-game losing streak against Browns

Dec 15, 2019, 6:34 PM | Updated: Dec 16, 2019, 7:27 am

The Arizona Cardinals powered through to pick up their fourth win of the season over the Cleveland Browns 38-24.

QB Kyler Murray completed 19 of 25 passes for 219 yards, including one touchdown. Around the offense, Kenyan Drake had four touchdowns on the day. He also had 22 carries for 137 yards.

The wide receivers saw their fair share of action with Damiere Byrd tallying 86 yards on 6 catches and Larry Fitzgerald muscling 42 yards on 3 catches.

The Cardinals’ defense caused issues for Browns QB Baker Mayfield and Co. all day. LB Chandler Jones notched his 15th sack of the season while Patrick Peterson picked up his second interception of the season.

Here are the reactions from the 98.7 FM Arizona’s Sports Station staff:

Dave Burns, co-host of Burns & Gambo

The standout performances were obvious:

Kyler Murray. The last two weeks gave off the appearance of a rookie who had the wall. Sunday vs. the Browns he broke through that wall.

Patrick Peterson. It’s been a trying time for the Cardinals star cornerback but his performance today had a little extra juice to it. During the CBS broadcast, his former teammate Jay Feely referenced Peterson’s motivation– silence his critics and re-establish himself as a cornerstone of the franchise. I don’t know if you can do that in one December Sunday against the Browns, but this version of Peterson is what we’ve come to expect.

And of course, Kenyan Drake. He had the NFL’s leading rusher on the other side of the field but Drake is the running back that was the talk of this game. The desire to see more of David Johnson was a big talking point this week. His big day made left David Johnson a forgotten man. Again.

But two other key moments helped swing this game and they shouldn’t be neglected. Kliff Kingsbury’s challenge of the non-pass interference call in the end zone was a huge swing point in this game. Challenging those non-calls are risky business but Kingsbury took a chance and ended up with a first and goal from the one. Drake’s third touchdown pushed the lead to 28-17.

I also thought Jalen Thompson had one of the plays of the game on his early fourth quarter tackle of Landry Jones. By breaking through the blocking scheme and stopping Jones short on third down he stalled a Browns’ drive that ended with a missed field goal. The Cardinals scored on Drake’s fourth touchdown on the ensuing drive and that was that.

Nice to see them pour it on with the points and the win propels (not sure that’s quite the word) this teams win total past last years. The harm it might have done to the draft positioning is of little concern to me. Wins to build confidence in a quarterback and a coach are more important.

Tyler Drake, Web Content Editor

Kenyan Drake now has his signature performance for the Cardinals in just six games. Arizona clearly had a plan against Steve Wilks — who was known last year for getting gashed on the ground — and the Browns’ defense. It paid off to the tune of 137 yards (6.2 a carry) and four scores for Drake. Call me the squeaky wheel of the bunch but that only solidifies that the RB’s the right fit for the Cardinals moving forward. Remember, Drake came over in a trade under Kingsbury. He wasn’t inherited when the new regime took over in the offseason.

It was a ho-hum day for Larry Fitzgerald, in what could be his final game in the Valley. He ended the game with three catches for 42 yards. But if it really is his last game as a Cardinal, Larry at least gets to go out with a victory one last time in Arizona.

The Cardinals needed this one. A loss to Freddie Kitchens and the Browns would have further snuffed out any of the positives from the 2019 campaign. There’s still a long road to go but it’s looking up for The Cardinals.

Vince Marotta, co-host of Bickley & Marotta

The last time the Arizona Cardinals found it necessary to make sweeping changes in both the front office and the coaching staff was 2012.

That Ken Whisenhunt-coached team finished the year on a dubious nine-game losing streak that included a 58-0 embarrassment at the hands of the Seattle Seahawks. Whisenhunt and general manager Rod Graves were shown the door.

That made Steve Keim’s ascension to the general manager’s office possible. Seven years later, many were wondering if this year’s Cardinals would lose their last nine games of the season and spark more widespread operational changes.

That won’t happen.

The Cardinals rode running back Kenyan Drake, who became the first Arizona player to score four touchdowns in a single-game since 1993, to a 38-24 win over the Cleveland Browns at State Farm Stadium.

If anything, the Browns — who let it be known that embattled head coach Freddie Kitchens would be back for another season before the game — might be reconsidering, because this game wasn’t even as close as the scoreboard would indicate.

The Cardinals broke out of their offensive struggles with 445 total yards, including 226 on the ground. Their 38 points were a season-high.

Their defense certainly didn’t shut the Browns (393 total yards) down, but it played well enough to win.

Patrick Peterson, who had an interception in the end zone in the first quarter, played what was easily the best game of his truncated season. Peterson shadowed Odell Beckham Jr. all over the field and held him to just 66 yards on eight catches (he was targeted 13 times). Five of those catches came on Cleveland’s last possession when the Cardinals led by 21 points.

Also happy to see Drake finally get a win. The mid-season acquisition hadn’t experienced being on a winning team since Week 14 of last season when the Dolphins shocked the New England Patriots with the “Miami Miracle” — a personal span of 14 straight losses.

Drake’s performance and versatility make the question of whether or not he’ll return in 2020 an interesting one. It’s becoming more and more clear that he, and not David Johnson, could be the feature back on this team next season if he’s affordable to bring back in free agency.


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