Arnold: Budda Baker speech had Cardinals poised for big game vs. Giants

Dec 13, 2020, 6:31 PM | Updated: Dec 14, 2020, 7:25 am
(Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)...
(Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
(Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

Arizona Cardinals safety Budda Baker was second on the team in tackles in Sunday’s 26-7 victory over the New York Giants.

But it was his motivating speech the week leading up to the matchup that paid major dividends in the Week 14 win.

Needing a win to keep their playoff hopes alive, the safety’s words hit home on both sides of the football.

“We had a really good week of practice and you could just tell with the defense that there was some renewed energy and they were like, ‘Let’s go after it,'” tight end Dan Arnold said after the game. “Budda kinda addressed the team last week and really got everybody, not just the defense, really in on this thing.

“It’s a last-ditch effort, we’ve got to give it our all. Just this whole week, seeing the defense with that energy was awesome to see, and more importantly, for it to translate on the field is absolutely incredible.”

The Cardinals defense was the catalyst to the team’s success at MetLife Stadium from the get-go.

Linebacker Markus Golden kicked things off with a strip-sack on the opening Giants possession and from there, the domination ensued.

The Giants could do little against a Cardinals defense that finished with 8.0 sacks and five forced fumbles. Much of that came from linebacker Haason Reddick, who led the way with 5.0 sacks and three forced fumbles in the victory. Reddick is the first player since Vonnie Holliday in 2002 to register at least five sacks and three forced fumbles in a game. Dennis Gardeck added two sacks to go along with the one from Golden.

With the effort, the Cardinals became the first team to record at least 8.0 sacks and five forced fumbles in a game since the 1998 Tampa Bay Buccaneers recorded 8.0 sacks and eight forced fumbles in a win over the Green Bay Packers.

“Budda’s one of those guys that when he’s kind of addressing everybody you tend to really dial in and listen because he has something really important to say and something that will be meaningful for everybody,” Arnold said. “He’s going to be able to reach out to everybody in the locker room and be able to pull the best out of everybody. When you have one of those leaders in the locker room, it’s one of those pieces of the puzzle that you definitely need for a championship team.

“He’s always bringing his A-game, he’s always bringing it each and every day during practice and he’s never letting up. It’s something you admire from afar and you try to emulate it as best you can.”

It was clear Baker’s words hit home to Arnold and the offense.

The tight end scored one of the two Cardinals touchdowns of the game with a leaping grab in the end zone, marking his third in the past two games.

It appears quarterback Kyler Murray took notice of Baker’s sentiment from earlier in the week as well.

While the numbers don’t necessarily jump off the page, the signal caller finished with 244 yards and a touchdown on 24-of-35 passing and did not turn the ball over. He was also more aggressive than he has been in recent games as a runner, posting 47 yards on 13 carries.

“It was more of a ‘look in the mirror’ type of deal. We know what we can be, but talk is talk,” Murray said of Baker’s talk with the team. “At this point, we’ve got to go out there and execute because every game for the rest of the season matters for us.

“We know what we’re striving for, but it’s week to week, day by day and we’ve just got to keep grinding, work hard, practice hard, translate it and move that to the game.”

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Arnold: Budda Baker speech had Cardinals poised for big game vs. Giants