Notes from the Nest: Cardinals vs. Ravens

Oct 26, 2015, 5:30 PM | Updated: Oct 27, 2015, 10:54 am
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GLENDALE, Ariz. — It’s been a while, but we’re back at University of Phoenix Stadium for some Cardinals football.

The last time we saw this team (in Arizona, anyway) they were losing to the St. Louis Rams; the last time we saw them anywhere they were losing to the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Needless to say, this would be a good time for the 4-2 Cards to get right as they face the 1-5 Baltimore Ravens in a nationally-televised affair.

Much of the conversation this week was about the team putting together a full 60 minutes of football. Can they do it tonight?

From my perspective, the keys for Arizona are simple: Don’t turn the ball and don’t commit dumb penalties. Accomplish that, and a win should be in their future.


:06 left in fourth quarter

Ravens may have been bailed out when a procedure penalty stopped the clock on a play where they were stopped in bounds, but Tony Jefferson picks off Flacco in the end zone to seal the win. Cardinals survive 26-18 and advance to 5-2. Crisis averted.


 

:18 left in fourth quarter

So…the Ravens are at the Arizona four. This game is still very much in doubt. Wow.


 

:48 left in fourth quarter

Cards came close to ending it, but Flacco hit Gilmore on 4th and 1 to keep the drive alive. The Ravens are at their own 42 still a ways away, but they are still going.


 

1:53 left in fourth quarter

Cards bring in extra blockers for the punt, which is fair caught at the Baltimore 24. Ravens have to go 76 yards and get the two-point conversion to send this into OT. Can the D, which has been good this half, make one final stop?


 

2:00 left in fourth quarter

Just when it seemed like the Cards had things under control Palmer is flagged for intentional grounding on a questionable play call that involved going deep to Floyd. Not sure if it was a good call on the penalty or not (I’m leaning not), but the play call itself was rather questionable. Anyway, the Cards don’t get much on third and long and will be forced to punt away from their own 38.


 

2:32 left in fourth quarter

Cardinals get a HUGE first down on a swing pass to Andre Ellington. It was 3rd and 3, and the new set of downs forces the Ravens to burn their last timeout as well as get the ball near midfield. Cardinals haven’t put this one away yet, but they’re inching closer.


 

4:26 left in fourth quarter

The kickoff is fair caught at the Arizona 15 and the offense, now needing to move the ball, goes to work. This game is all of a sudden, well, a game. Can the Cardinals finish?


 

4:31 left in fourth quarter

Cards don’t go anywhere, which would have been fine except Drew Butler’s punt is blocked. The Ravens take over at the Arizona 1. So yeah, that wasn’t good. Worse is that on the first play Flacco hits Juszcyk for a TD. Two-point conversion is good and we’ve got a one-score ball game, folks.

Cards 26, Ravens 18.


 

6:42 left in fourth quarter

Cards force another three-and-out, this one capped by a Tyrann Mathieu sack of Flacco. Mathieu came in unblocked, straight line to the QB. I’m no expert, but that seems like a bad way to play offense.

The punt bounces off Peterson’s leg but goes out of bounds. Cardinals take over at their own 29 in firm control of this game.


 

8:08 left in fourth quarter

Cardinals put together a really nice job, with Andre Ellington playing the role of lead back. He picks up some yards on the ground and the air, and the home team punches it in on a short pass from Palmer to John Brown. The PAT attempt hits the upright and is no good, but the Cards currently hold a 26-10 advantage.

First really nice drive for the Cards, in my opinion, marching all the way down the field with great balance.


 

14:16 left in fourth quarter

Calais Campbell bursts through the line to stop the back in the backfield and the Ravens punt the ball away. Arizona will begin the drive at their own 21.

The Cards haven’t exactly been sharp on offense, but they’ve had enough big plays to do enough so far. At this point, the important thing is not turning the ball over and giving the Ravens a short field. Points wouldn’t be bad, yes, but the Cards’ defense has stepped up this half and put its imprint on the game.


 

End of third quarter

The third frame ends with the Ravens facing a 3rd and 1 from their own 40. A stop here would be huge for the home team, which leads 20-10.


 

2:27 left in third quarter

Cardinals march down the field courtesy of some very intelligent running by Chris Johnson. The back appeared to have been stopped after a reasonable gain, but was never actually down. Rather than quickly fight to get up and keep running, he waited until the defender let go of him, got up and raced down the field. He was tackled short of the end zone, though, and while the 63-yard gain was great, the drive stalls from there. Catanzaro comes on for another field goal, giving the Cards a 20-10 lead. But again, that pesky red zone.


6:25 left in third quarter

Cards give up some yards but force a punt when Flacco misfires on 3rd and 10. Patrick Peterson catches the punt and returns it to the Arizona 13, and the offense is back on the field.

Given Baltimore’s offensive limitations, you get the sense that a TD here, which would make this a two-score game, would go a long way toward ensuring the outcome. That said, Arizona’s offense has not exactly been firing on all cylinders today, so we’ll see what they can do.

 


 

9:47 left in third quarter

Cards get deep into Ravens territory on a beautiful pass from Palmer to John Brown. The QB showed great trust in his receiver, throwing the ball up and to a spot between defenders that Brown had yet to get to, and the WR rewarded him by coming down with the ball for a 35-yard gain. Earlier in the week Palmer raved about Brown’s ability to come down with 50-50 balls — that wasn’t necessarily one, but it speaks to just how much confidence the QB has in the second-year pro.

The drive ends up stalling, though, and Catanzaro comes on and nails a 21-yard field goal. The lead is now 17-10, which is fine, but you know the Cards would like to have come away with seven. Red zone issues have surfaced of late and that is not something they would like to see continue.


 

12:53 left in third quarter

The Cardinals answered my question with a resounding YES, as Dwight Freeney notches his first sack as a Cardinal on third down. He beat Eugene Monroe for it, showing the kind of pass rushing moves that made him one of the best in the business not too long ago.

Patrick Peterson returns the punt to the Baltimore 49, which is where the offense will go to work.


 

15:00 left in third quarter

Kickoff sails through the end zone and the Ravens begin at their 20. Can Arizona’s defense force a three and out?


 

End of second quarter

Cards get a stop on 3rd and 2, but don’t use their last timeout and the half expires during the ensuing punt. Very un-Arians like to “settle” for a 14-10 lead, but given the way this game has gone, maybe it’s for the best.

The Cardinals are lucky to be leading, with the fumbled punt being the difference. Baltimore gets the ball to start the second half, and Arizona’s defense needs to come out with a strong effort in that first series.


 

1:01 left in second quarter

The Cardinals got their TD on a three-yard pass from Palmer to Michael Floyd, but it came on third down after more than a few unsuccessful plays from inside the five. Palmer missed Fitz on one, Chris Johnson and Chris Johnson was stopped short on another, but at the end of the day they’ll take the TD however they can get it.

PAT is good and it’s 14-10 Cardinals.


 

2:00 left in second quarter

A Chris Johnson run that loses two yards, a pass to Fitzgerald that falls incomplete but was hindered by a pass interference (that was called), then a short run from Johnson again puts the ball at the Baltimore one. It’s second and goal for the Cards, who cannot afford to leave this drive without a touchdown.


 

2:48 left in second quarter

Cards go three-and-out after Palmer goes deep (and misses) to Fitz on 3rd and 1. Butler’s punt is returned and fumbled by the Ravens’ Jeremy Ross. Ruling on the field is the Cardinals recovered the ball, and then an unnecessary roughness penalty has been tacked on at the end of the play.

Credit Justin Bethel with the forced fumble, and the Cardinals have new life with the ball at the Baltimore 12.


 

3:54 left in second quarter

Well that could have gone better. Much, much better.

The Ravens move down the field rather easily, with some passes to Steve Smith (who has been open) and some runs mixed in. Screen/swing passes are still an issue, by the way, and the TD is courtesy of a 14-yard run from Justin Forsett where he avoided a couple guys but otherwise had an easy time.

The PAT is good and the Ravens are now up 10-7.


 

8:39 left in second quarter

Palmer throws a beautiful deep ball to Jermaine Gresham, but he is drilled by Ravens safety Will Hill before he could reel it in and the ball falls incomplete. Drew Butler blasts a 51-yard punt that is fair caught — and then pushed even further due to a block in the back.

Ravens start their drive at their own 18, which given where Arizona’s previous drive started from, is a pretty good job of flipping the field.

 

9:06 left in second quarter

Cards get some breathing room with some Chris Johnson runs and a nice pass to an open Larry Fitzgerald, but now face a 3rd and 3 at their own 23. JJ Nelson was in the game just now before the timeout, we’ll see if he’s back out there for this play.


 

Still 11:45 left in second quarter

Ruling on the field stands, which means the Cardinals lose a timeout and will begin this drive inside their own one. Not ideal. Not ideal at all.


 

11:45 left in second quarter

Cards force a punt after the Ravens go nowhere on third down, and Patrick Peterson calls for a fair catch on a ball that appears to have been downed at the goal line. It may have been touched by a Raven whose foot was on the goal line, however, which is what Bruce Arians has thrown the challenge flag for. About a 20-yard difference here, and that’s kind of a big deal.


 

12:35 left in second quarter

This interesting drive continues but may be in danger of coming to an end. The Cards nearly gave up a long TD pass to Chris Givens, but Tyrann Mathieu was just able to get a hand in the way to knock the ball away. Refs missed a pretty blatant hold against Markus Golden, who looked like he was going to break through and get to Flacco.

Anyway, the Ravens are called for a hold a couple plays later, and then Mathieu read an end-around perfectly to stop Baltimore for a loss of six. As of this moment, it is 3rd and 26 from the Arizona 39. Have to think the Ravens’ concern is less about picking up the first and more about just getting a little closer for Tucker.


 

End of first quarter

The first frame comes to an end with the Ravens at the Arizona 38 with a first and 10 situation. This drive could have ended many yards ago, but a third-down stuff of a Forsett run was negated by a false start on the Ravens. In that case, cheaters prospered as the following play resulted in first down.

Ravens aren’t exactly shredding Arizona’s defense, but the short passes to tight ends and screen-type plays are an issue so far.


 

3:59 left in first quarter

Well that response didn’t take long. Palmer hits Jermaine Gresham for a nice pass down the middle, Palmer then connects with Michael Floyd deep down the sideline, and the drive is finished by Chris Johnson, who goes Beast Mode for a 26-yard TD run. The back bounced off would-be tacklers as if they were just that, “would be tacklers,” on the way to paydirt. Great run.

PAT is good and the Cards are up 7-3.


5:25 left in first quarter

The Ravens responded by moving down the field mostly with screen passes. Some penalties were called — including a personal foul on Frostee Rucker — but the defensive lineman redeemed himself in part by sacking Joe Flacco on third down, forcing Baltimore to settle for a field goal. Justin Tucker (one of the best in the business) connects from 44 yards out, and the Ravens have an early 3-0 lead.


10;52 left in first quarter

Cardinals seemed to be moving down the field at will, mixing in some good Chris Johnson runs with some passes to a wide open John Brown. However, Carson Palmer gets sacked on third down and then Chandler Catanzaro misses a 55-yard field goal attempt.

Though they moved the ball, the Cards came up empty. That has been an issue in their two losses, and is something they would rather not see continue here tonight.

Ravens take over at their own 45.


 

15:00 left in first quarter

The Cardinals won the coin toss and chose to receive. Though listed as a sellout, at this time there are still a good number of seats that need to be filled in. Maybe they will be — not exactly easy to get out to this part of the Valley at this time.


 

7 minutes left until kickoff

The Cardinals are being introduced to the home fans, with the offense getting the honor of running through the giant inflatable Cardinals logo. In other news, the Cardinals served us in the media a “Turbriskey”, which is what you’d think — a turkey stuffed inside a brisket. It was every bit as wonderful as you might think, though given the news we all received about bacon and the like earlier today, it’s probably not exactly good for us.

 

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