Flags fly: Cardinals’ hit on Commanders QB Howell leads to scuffle, lost referee

Sep 10, 2023, 10:44 AM | Updated: 1:26 pm

There was bound to be some blood between the Arizona Cardinals, picked by many to be the worst team in the NFL, and a Washington Commanders team with relatively high expectations, out from a controversial ownership group.

Midway through the first quarter of a 20-16 Arizona loss on Sunday, Cardinals linebacker Kyzir White was called for a helmet penalty on a tackle of Commanders quarterback Sam Howell.

It was also arguably a late hit, and all that combined led to a skirmish between the teams at FedEx Field. Not only that, but the down judge took a hit from White and left the game with a bloodied left arm.

Cardinals safety Jalen Thompson earned a helmet flag soon after, while a 37-yard gain via Arizona cornerback Marco Wilson’s pass interference added to the self-harm.

In all, the second Washington drive of the day went 91 yards — 67 yards on penalties alone. It ended on a seven-yard touchdown pass by Howell to running back Brian Robinson Jr., putting the Commanders ahead, 7-0.

The Cardinals responded with a 28-yard field goal by Matt Prater on the next drive. The drive was mostly thanks to a 29-yard rush by receiver Hollywood Brown and a 31-yard reception by receiver Rondale Moore.

It followed an eight-play initial drive that saw the Cardinals get off the field unscathed before they fell into a pit of penalties from three players who should be some of their more productive and dependable.

It wasn’t the cleanest start under first-year coach Jonathan Gannon. The team finished with nine penalties for 122 yards and had two turnovers.

The Cardinals did, however, turn over Washington three times.

Arizona led the NFL with 117 penalties last year under then-coach Kliff Kingsbury.

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Flags fly: Cardinals’ hit on Commanders QB Howell leads to scuffle, lost referee