Bird Bits: Cardinals top Titans despite blowing late three-score lead
Dec 16, 2013, 12:59 AM | Updated: 2:03 am
The Arizona Cardinals entered Sunday needing to win at least two of their final three games to have a realistic shot at clinching an NFC Wild Card berth.
And with a road trip to the rival Seattle Seahawks looming next week, Sunday’s game at the Tennessee Titans quickly turned into a must-win for the Cardinals.
Carson Palmer threw for 222 yards and a score on 19-of-29 passing, Andre Ellington racked up 158 total yards and the Cardinals beat the Tennessee Titans 37-34 despite a furious Tennessee rally that overcame a 17-point lead with less than four minutes to go to force overtime.
Tennessee scored 17 points in the final 3:12, including marching 54 yards in 45 seconds for the game-tying score after recovering an onside kick. But Tennessee quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick threw an interception on the Titans’ first overtime possession, and Cardinals kicker Jay Feely drilled a 41-yard field goal to secure the win for Arizona.
Palmer continued his run of solid play and didn’t throw an interception for the fourth time in five weeks, leading a Cardinals offense that had little margin for error Sunday. Arizona’s offensive line did enough to give the veteran a chance, and he was sacked just twice.
Elllington continued to show how diverse and valuable he is to Arizona’s offense, as he led the team in rushing (71 yards) and receiving (87 yards).
Antoine Cason came up with his first two interceptions with the Cardinals while playing a bigger role because of the injury to rookie Tyrann Mathieu, and Arizona’s defense limited Tennessee running back Chris Johnson to 40 yards on 13 carries.
The Cardinals’ defense — as good as it’s been throughout the year — had a slew of poor play and stupid penalties. Arizona gave up five first downs on penalties, and three of those came on third downs as Tennessee drove and eventually took a 17-13 third-quarter lead. The Cardinals were flagged for nine penalties for 69 yards while Tennessee was called for three for just 16 yards.
The Titans’ 34 points tied a season high for the Cardinals’ defense, and Arizona blew a 17-point lead in the game’s final four minutes.
Kendall Wright torched the Cardinals to the tune of 12 catches for 150 yards, and Fitzpatrick threw for 402 yards and four touchdowns on 36-of-58 passing, though he also threw a pair of interceptions.
This is the Cardinals’ fourth winning season since moving to Arizona in 1988, and three of those have come in the last five years.
Stat of the Game
Tennessee picked up six first downs thanks to penalties by the Cardinals defense.
He Said It
“However we get a win, it doesn’t matter. Fly home, get ready for Seattle.” — Cardinals kicker Jay Feely
The Cardinals travel to the Seahawks for a 2:05 p.m. kickoff on Arizona Sports 620 and KTAR 92.3. Arizona lost 58-0 in its last trip to Seattle.