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Corey Peters: Cardinals defense can’t close in ‘inconsistent’ loss to Lions

Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford (9) is sacked by Arizona Cardinals outside linebacker Devon Kennard (42) and defensive tackle Corey Peters (98) during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Sept. 27, 2020, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

Neither the Arizona Cardinals offense nor their defense have put together a start-to-finish clean football game through three weeks.

It finally caught up to Arizona in a 26-23 loss to the Lions on Sunday, which gave Detroit its first win in 12 tries dating back to last season.

Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray turned it over three times, and the offense struggled to find a rhythm, much as it did in the opener at San Francisco and even last week in putting up 30 points on Washington. Arizona’s defense, though, couldn’t stop shooting itself in the foot against Detroit.

It came to a head in the final five minutes, when Lions quarterback Matt Stafford orchestrated a 70-yard drive that ate clock and ended the game on the foot of kicker Matt Prater.

To veteran defensive tackle Corey Peters, who had a sack on Sunday, the mistakes that have been apparent this entire season so far finally caught up to Arizona.

“I just wasn’t really happy with the way we started the game and it just kind of carried throughout,” he said of the team’s defensive effort. “I think the previous two weeks, we’ve been inconsistent at times but we found a way to win. Sometimes winning can be a band-aid over things we do wrong. I feel like in this league, you get what you earn, and today we earned a loss. So hopefully guys will take that to heart.”

Arizona’s defense certainly took a possession to find itself.

Stafford found receiver Danny Amendola for an 18-yard gain on the first play from scrimmage at State Farm Stadium, and veteran back Adrian Peterson ripped off a 27-yard run to follow. Stafford threw a pick to Cardinals safety Chris Banjo during the drive, but it was negated because Cardinals nickel Byron Murphy was called for defensive holding.

The Lions kept it moving on their first drive before Arizona got a save when tackle Jordan Phillips blew up the pocket and sacked Stafford on 3rd-and-6 at the Cardinals’ 9-yard line.

Inopportune mistakes cropped up other times for Arizona’s defense.

Detroit used 1:22 to put together a 75-yard drive in the two-minute drill just before halftime, taking a 17-13 lead.

In the third quarter, the Cardinals defense gave up two second-half field goals after being put in bad positions by the offense. One included a 12 men on the field penalty deep in Arizona territory that the Lions couldn’t take advantage of. The six points allowed by the Cardinals in the third quarter were a positive considering how poorly the offense was playing.

Poor complementary football or not, the defensive unit didn’t come through when it counted most.

The Lions’ 10-play drive to win the game on a 39-yard Prater field goal included a 52-yard catch by Marvin Hall at Arizona’s 1-yard line that was, fortunately for the Cardinals, called back on a Lions hold. But Murphy was called for pass interference on the very next play, giving Detroit 13 yards to get to the 50-yard line.

An 11-yard completion to receiver Kenny Golladay with Murphy in coverage and a 20-yard reception by Marvin Jones made up most of the ground to set up Detroit’s game-winning kick.

The Arizona defense held Stafford to 270 passing yards — the same as Kyler Murray’s total — and limited the Lions to 3.3 yards per carry. The three big receivers in Golladay, Jones and tight end T.J. Hockenson each caught more than 50 yards but no more than 57 as the Cardinals pass-rush was relatively effective with four sacks.

But in the start and the finish, the Cardinals felt like it could have gone a lot better.

“We got to do a better job of finishing,” Peters said.

“I think we were inconsistent throughout the entire game. I think we were actually lucky to be in a position to try to get off the field and get a stop and get a chance to win that game in the fourth quarter, but when you play poor and inconsistent … you’re going to struggle to win games. With a tie game, they’re starting on their 9(-yard line), we got to find a way to get off the field there and get the ball back to our offense.”

Phillips Law Group

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