Cardinals lose preseason opener, but Palmer shows no rust in return to action: By the Numbers
It’s not the same as regular season football, but it was an adequate substitute after a near seven and a half month hiatus from the last time the Arizona Cardinals faced an opponent that wasn’t themselves. Though they’d fall to the Kansas City Chiefs 34-19 Saturday night at University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, there’s plenty to digest before looking ahead to the Cardinals’ next preseason contest versus the San Diego Chargers on Aug. 22.
At quarterback, Carson Palmer exhibited the skills of a player in midseason form, leading Arizona on a seven-play, 80-yard touchdown drive on his first and only series of the ball game to give the Cardinals an early 7-0 lead.
Arizona kicker Chandler Catanzaro would add three more points to that total on the Cardinals’ next offensive possession with his 33-yard field goal, but that would be all the scoring Cardinals would do until the fourth quarter, as the Chiefs rattled off 31 unanswered points to wrestle away control of the game.
Below, we take a look at the Cardinals’ loss, by the numbers.
The buzz surrounding the reported stellar play of Palmer in training camp revealed itself Saturday, as the 12-year pro appeared sharp and confident delivering the football from the pocket. Completing each of his four pass attempts for 77 yards, Palmer played only one series in the preseason opener, but it was more than enough to assuage any fears surrounding the health of his surgically repaired knee.
Though he only gained three yards on three carries versus the Chiefs, running back Andre Ellington was certainly effective in the passing game, catching two passes for 59 yards. His 57-yard catch and run in the first quarter was the play of the game for the Cardinals on offense. Ellington would cap off the opening drive with a one-yard touchdown run.
Not counting Logan Thomas’ 18 yards rushing on four carries, the 57 yards gained on the ground on 23 attempts by Cardinals running backs did little to inspire confidence in arguably the most questionable position group on offense for Arizona. Kerwynn Williams led all Cardinals ball carriers with 20 yards on seven carries.
Speaking of Thomas, the second-year signal-caller from Virginia Tech seemed to take some positive steps forward after reportedly enduring an inconsistent first couple weeks of training camp. Against the Chiefs, Thomas completed 60 percent of his passes (9-for-15 through the air) for 107 yards. Though he will get blamed for an interception, the box score won’t mention the deflection that resulted in the turnover. Otherwise, Thomas performed quite admirably as the Cardinals’ third-string quarterback.
It’s the preseason, so admittedly, not much can be gleaned from these numbers, but Cardinals defense did surrender 143 yards on the ground to the Chiefs Saturday night. Last season, the Cardinals ranked 13th in the NFL in rushing yards allowed per game (108.7).
Cardinals defensive lineman Rodney Gunter has drawn a lot of attention for his play through the first two weeks of training camp. The rookie from Delaware State proved why, registering two tackles including a sack that resulted in a safety and two points for the Cardinals.