GLENDALE, Ariz. — The Cardinals are finally back at University of Phoenix Stadium.
Tonight they are hosting the Cincinnati Bengals in a prime time matchup. It’s Arizona’s second consecutive week on Sunday Night Football, and the game offers another chance to show the rest of the country just how good the Cardinals are.
It’s also the 100th game at University of Phoenix Stadium, so that’s a cool backdrop to tonight’s proceedings.
Most of the story lines surrounding this game revolve around Carson Palmer facing off against his former team as well as how similar these two squads are. Both have diverse offenses paired with good defenses. Sets up to be a good game, let’s see how it plays out.
:2 left in fourth quarter
Disaster nearly strikes as it looks like Ted Larsen flinches with the clock running and less than 10 seconds (meaning time would have expired), but all he did was draw attention to a Bengals penalty that made the field goal attempt much shorter. Catanzaro is good from 32-yards out.
Nothing doing on the kickoff and the Cards win 34-31. Arizona improves to 8-2 on the season and people can finally go home and get some sleep.
Except for us reporters, as we’re heading downstairs for reaction.
:20 left in fourth quarter
Three plays later the Cardinals are in field goal range. OK then.
FYI, Catanzaro has never so much as attempted a game-winning field goal with the Cardinals.
1:08 left in fourth quarter
Bengals go deep to AJ Green on third down and Justin Bethel tips the ball (came close to picking it). The WR came up with the ball and came close to scoring, but did not get his feet in. Nugent on for a 43-yard FG that would tie the game.
It’s good, and we’re tied at 31.
1:58 left in fourth quarter
Cards appeared to have forced a 3rd and 10 but Jerraud Powers is flagged for illegal hands to the face. That gives the Bengals a first down at their own 37. This is a tight one, folks, and Patrick Peterson being out of the game has to leave everyone in red with a nervous feeling. Justin Bethel has been checking AJ Green, which is interesting. Bengals still have two timeouts, by the way.
2:52 left in fourth quarter
An incomplete pass is followed by a nine-yard Chris Johnson run, but CJ is stuffed on 3rd and 1 and the Cards will punt it away. Good kick puts the Bengals at their own 16.
Patrick Peterson, by the way, has an ankle injury and is questionable to return. Not ideal for the Cardinals while looking for a stop.
3:44 left in fourth quarter
The call did stand, and the Bengals then went on a nice drive that led to another TD pass from Dalton to Eifert. The PAT is good and the score is 31-28, Cardinals. Bengals still have three timeouts left so this one is not even close to being over.
6:18 left in fourth quarter
Brandon Tate returns the ensuing kick to the 50, but he may have lost the ball in the process. The ruling on the field is that he was down, but Bruce Arians is challenging. It’s going to be close, but I’m thinking the call stands.
6:27 left in fourth quarter
Crisis averted when Palmer recovers his own fumble after being sacked, and though the Cardinals could not punch the ball into the end zone they get a 24-yard field goal from Catanzaro to make this a 10-point game. Score is 31-21 and the Cards may be one stop away from putting this one away.
Press box announcement says Frostee Rucker (ankle) has been downgraded to out.
8:41 left in fourth quarter
I underestimated the situation. Dalton is hit by Markus Golden and fumbles the ball right into the hands of Deone Bucannon. Cards take over at the Cincy 10 with a chance to put some real distance between them and the Bengals.
8:49 left in fourth quarter
Cardinals call a timeout as the Bengals face a third and 10 from their 17. Andy Dalton has seen a couple nice passes go incomplete this drive, and is one more incompletion (or a completion short of the sticks) from giving Arizona the ball back with good field position.
9:01 left in fourth quarter
Cardinals move the ball some with help of an iffy pass interference call, but Palmer is forced to throw it away on 3rd and 2 and Arizona punts. Butler’s boot is fair caught at the Cincy 17, where the Bengals will start their drive.
Arizona’s defense just gave up a long scoring drive, can they regroup and get a stop?
11:26 left in fourth quarter
Bengals punch it in on a one-yard Jeremy Hill TD run. Drive went 80 yards in 11 plays, and this is still a game.
Arizona’s offense has looked unstoppable this half, and may need to keep that trend going. Score is 28-21, and there is plenty of time left.
12:22 left in fourth quarter
Cardinals get things to 3rd and 26 but it then becomes fourth and four, which the Bengals go for and convert. They now have a goal-to-go.
End of third quarter
Bengals are on the move as the third quarter comes to an end. They’ll have a second and four from the Arizona 32 when play resumes.
Safe to say that was a good quarter for the Cardinals, who scored 21 points and looked dominant in the process.
Defensively, Frostee Rucker hurt his ankle and is questionable to return. Calais Campbell also got shaken up.
1:26 left in third quarter
Palmer hits JJ Nelson for 36 yards on third down, and from there the offense was once again rolling. Palmer hits David Johnson for a 16-yard TD — the RB was open, the ball was on the money. The PAT is good and the Cardinals, all of a sudden, are up 14. Whatever ailed the Cardinals in the first half doesn’t appear to be an issue now, at least offensively.
Also, welcome to the national stage, JJ Nelson.
4:03 left in third quarter
Dwight Freeney abuses Bengals tackle Andrew Whitworth with his famous spin move for a sack of Dalton inside the Bengals five. Cards start their drive on the Cincy 49, but a hold on first down pushes them back to their own 41.
5:20 left in third quarter
Bengals start at the 20 and lose six on their first play, but Frostee Rucker is down for the Cardinals. That’s not good — he’s been one of their leaders and better players. He’s up and walking off the field with help from trainers, so take that for whatever it’s worth.
5:32 left in third quarter
Welcome back, Cardinals. Another excellent drive with pinpoint throws and good runs is capped by a Palmer TD pass to John Brown from 18-yards out. Brown has been frustrated with hamstring issues, but is having a nice night. PAT is good and theCards are on top 21-14.
10:17 left in third quarter
Momentum? Cardinals force a three-and-out with Calais Campbell finally getting a solid hit on Dalton, whose throw sailed. Peterson returns the punt to the Arizona 34. Score on this drive and this game’s tone changes rather dramatically.
11:21 left in third quarter
Cardinals pick up a first down when Palmer somehow finds John Brown, and then Arizona goes play-action for a 64-yard TD pass to J.J. Nelson. It’s Nelson’s first career TD, and it could not have come at a better time. Cardinals have done plenty to upgrade their team speed, and it was on display there. PAT is good and we’re tied at 14-14.
13:02 left in third quarter
Cardinals force another third down, but this time they get a stop without penalty so the ball goes back to them. Peterson returns a long punt to the Arizona 20, which is where Palmer and the offense will try to get something going. They had moments in the first half, but otherwise seemed very clunky and ineffective. Very unlike them, actually.
14:12 left in third quarter
Cardinals appear to get a stop as Dalton is forced to throw a ball away on third and long, but Cards are called for illegal hands to the face which means five yards and an automatic first down. Refs never said who the penalty was actually on, so there’s that.
End of first half
Short pass goes nowhere and we head into halftime with the Cardinals trailing 14-7. Two interceptions did not help in what was one of Arizona’s worst halves of the season. Good news is they’re only down one score, though.
:36 left in second quarter
Palmer throws incomplete on first and second down — with second down nearly being picked off as it was into triple coverage — and then on third down Andre Ellington makes a short reception before going out of bounds. Drew Butler snags a not-so-good snap and gets the kick away, and the Bengals take over at their own 37 with time to try and add more points. By the way, the Bengals get the ball to start the second half.
1:07 left in second quarter
And that’s exactly what happens as Jeremy Hill scores from two-yards out. Drive took more than eight minutes off the clock, and made a statement for the visitors who also now lead 14-7.
1:12 left in second quarter
Dalton hits Bernard on a well-designed screen pass — he had all day to run. Is finally brought down at the two, though the Bengals clearly think he was in. They called a timeout hoping to get the booth to take a look. So far does not seem like they plan on overturning the call.
This has not been a great look for Arizona’s defense, especially after the offense tied things up. They just haven’t been able to get off the field, and now appear to be on the verge of allowing more points.
1:57 left in second quarter
Bengals pick up a third and one and keep the ball. Cards LB Kevin Minter, who was looking to break up the play, was just destroyed by a block. It happens.
A deep shot to Jones falls incomplete and the Bengals have second and 10 at the Arizona 43.
4:10 left in second quarter
Cardinals get a stop on a third and long but Kevin Minter is called for a hold, then AJ Green makes an outstanding catch to convert another third down for the Bengals as their drive continues at midfield.
7:21 left in second quarter
Andy Dalton scrambles for a first down, which was good for the Bengals. Next play, tackle Andre Smith is flagged for a personal foul (leg whip), pushing the Bengals back and making it 1st and 25 from their own 21. Not the most disciplined performance from Cincinnati thus far.
9:44 left in second quarter
The Cards end up putting together a good drive, though it was aided by some Bengals penalties. Arizona goes play-action on third and one and Palmer somehow gets the ball to Darren Fells in the corner of the end zone for an 18-yard TD. The TE leapt over the defender to make the play. He wasn’t wide open, but Palmer saw the mismatch and took a chance. He was rewarded. Chandler Catanzaro connects on the PAT and we’re all tied up at 7-7.
14:13 left in second quarter
Palmer hits John Brown for a 12-yard gain on third and eight, and a personal foul tacks on another 15 yards to get the Cardinals out to their own 49. Big conversion — couldn’t afford a three and out there.
End of first quarter
A run goes nowhere and the quarter ends with the Cardinals facing a 2nd and 10 from their own 20. On the plus side, Mike Iupati has returned to the game. On the down side (if you’re a Cardinals fan), the Bengals lead 7-0.
:22 left in first quarter
A long pass to AJ Green, who was being covered by Jerraud Powers, gets the Bengals deep into Arizona territory, and then Dalton hits TE Tyler Eifert for a three-yard score on third-down. The PAT is good and the home team trails 7-0.
Not an ideal start for the Cardinals.
3:30 left in first quarter
First play has Palmer go deep to it looked like JJ Nelson, but ball is either way overthrown, to a guy who ran the wrong route or something and it’s easily picked by Robert Nelson. Palmer’s second INT of the day and the Bengals take over at their own 36.
3:46 left in first quarter
This time it’s the Cardinals who stop a 3rd and 1 run, forcing a punt. It’s fair caught at the Arizona 37. So far this has been a game of field position, and the home team has a slight lead there.
In other news, press box announcement said Iupati suffered a stinger and is questionable to return. So, the Cards’ already banged up line (Jonathan Cooper was already inactive with a knee injury) suffers another blow.
5:42 left in first quarter
Cardinals can’t convert on a 3rd and 1 run and are forced to punt. It was a nice kick by Drew Butler, and though there was a good return a block in the back by Dre Kirkpatrick moves the ball all the way back to the Cincy 8. Tough flag, but good opportunity for Arizona’s defense.
7:59 left in first quarter
Bengals pick up some yardage but stall after the Cardinals stuff a Jeremy Hill run and then the RB gets flagged for taunting. Overall, not a bad stand for the Cardinals.
Patrick Peterson fair catches the punt at the Arizona 21.
10:45 left in first quarter
What began as a really nice drive with some quick passes to Larry Fitzgerald and strong running by Chris Johnson ended in a Palmer interception at the Cincinnati 35.
Left guard Mike Iupati appeared to get shaken up during the drive and left to be looked at by the team’s trainers. Earl Watford replaced him, and promptly gave up a sack (which then led to Palmer needing to throw the ball down the field, which led to the interception).
Bengals take over and now it’s up to Arizona’s defense to answer.
15:00 left in first quarter
The Cardinals won the toss and elected to receive. Nugent’s kick goes for a touchback, so Palmer and hte Cardinals will go to work from the 20.