Big Red Recap: Cardinals thump Jets on Monday Night Football

Oct 17, 2016, 9:47 PM
Arizona Cardinals running back David Johnson (31) scores a touchdown against the New York Jets duri...

Arizona Cardinals running back David Johnson (31) scores a touchdown against the New York Jets during the second half of an NFL football game, Monday, Oct. 17, 2016, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

(AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

It had been a long time coming. A real long time.

For the Arizona Cardinals, it was worth the wait.

In front of a primetime audience and a sold out University of Phoenix Stadium, the Cardinals thumped the New York Jets, 28-3.

David Johnson rushed for 111 yards and three touchdowns to lead a ground attack that totaled 171 yards against one of the better run defenses in the league.

Speaking of defense, the Cardinals excelled, forcing two turnovers and limiting the Jets’ rushing attack to 33 yards on 14 carries for an average of 2.4 yards a carry.

The Cardinals (3-3) rode the hot hand in Johnson. He touched the football 25 times, including 22 runs.

Johnson scored in each of the first three quarters, before Carson Palmer provided the finishing touches with a touchdown pass to Michael Floyd for the final margin of victory.

Palmer went 23-of-34 for 213 yards before leaving late in the fourth quarter with what was announced as a hamstring strain. He called it cramping.

The Cardinals had not beaten the Jets since 1975, snapping a six-game losing streak.

THE GOOD

And the drought is over. For the first time this season, the Cardinals scored in the opening quarter. It was a touchdown, and it was Johnson who found the end zone. Taking the handoff on 1st-and-10 at the Arizona 42, Johnson ran off left tackle for a career-long 58-yard score to put the Cardinals ahead, 7-0, at the 9:51 mark. And that was against the league’s second-best rushing defense, which entered the week allowing only 68.4 yards per game.

Held without a third-down conversion on three tires in the first quarter, the Cardinals converted twice during their second-quarter scoring drive, which once again resulted in a Johnson touchdown. His two-yard run up the middle capped an 11-play, 75-yard drive in 5:23 that put the Cardinals ahead, 14-3, at the 6:43 mark of the second. Johnson now has 20 career touchdowns to pass Ottis Anderson (19 in 1979-80) for the most by a Cardinal in his first two seasons.

Before Johnson, the last player with three rushing touchdowns against the Jets was Philadelphia’s LeSean McCoy back on Dec. 18, 2011. Johnson rushed seven times for 27 yards. The final two yards put the Cardinals ahead, 21-3, at the 5:24 mark in the third quarter. Overall, it was a 14-play, 68-yard drive in 7:37. Also on the drive, Johnson became the first player in franchise history with 800+ yards from scrimmage in the season’s first six games.

A big hit. Check. A big takeaway. Check. D.J. Swearinger, with help, kept the Jets out of the end zone and subsequently off the scoreboard, halting a late third-quarter drive with an interception. The pass was intended for Marshall, but Swearinger stepped in front to record his second INT of the season, matching his career-high set in 2014 and giving the Cardinals their 13th takeaway of the year. Earlier, he separated the ball from Charone Peake with a jarring, yet clean hit.

On the ensuing drive following the turnover, the Cardinals went 89 yards on 14 plays in 7:26, finishing with Palmer throwing a nine-yard touchdown pass to Michael Floyd to put the Cardinals ahead, 28-3, at the 8:20 mark of the fourth quarter. Palmer was 6-of-8 for 58 yards, with most of those yards (47) to John Brown. Four times, Palmer and Brown hooked up on the drive, including twice on third down. They converted a 3rd-and-5 and a 3rd-and-10.

THE BAD

Aided by a pass interference penalty on Patrick Peterson, which moved the chains on 3rd-and-5 at the New York 26, the Jets got on the scoreboard with a Nick Folk 39-yard field goal to cut into the Cardinals’ lead, 7-3, at the 12:06 mark of the second quarter. Earlier, Peterson was beaten by Brandon Marshall for 36 yards. On the drive, Fitzpatrick went 3-of-4 for 49 yards, and at that point in the game was 6-of-10 for 67 yards.

Yellow laundry littered the field throughout the first two quarters. Combined, the Cardinals and Jets were flagged 13 times. New York was guilty of eight of those, including five in the first quarter. It was a rough first half for Jets cornerback Buster Skrine, who was whistled three times. Meanwhile, the Jets committed three false start penalties, bringing the total number of opponent false start penalties to 140 at University of Phoenix Stadium.

It was not the homecoming Ryan Fitzpatrick expected. The Gilbert, Ariz., resident and former Highland Hawk was lifted for Geno Smith midway through the fourth quarter. The move came on the possession following the interception, which was his 11th of the season. Fitzpatrick, who was picked off nine times over a two-game stretch between Weeks 2 and 3, finished 16-of-31 for 174 yards. He threw to seven different receivers.

STAT OF THE GAME

171: The Cardinals’ rushing total, one yard shy of their season-best mark of 172 set last week at San Francisco.

HE SAID IT

“He’s the heartbeat of the offense right now,” defensive tackle Frostee Rucker said, referring to Johnson. “We like where he’s at. He works extremely hard.”

NOTED

– Fitzgerald has at least one reception in 185 consecutive games, tying Terrell Owens for the fifth-longest streak in NFL history.

– Wide receiver Jaron Brown exited the game late in the fourth quarter and made his way to the locker room with a knee injury.

– Cornerback Justin Bethel made his season debut defensively, seeing the field in alignments featuring seven defensive backs.

– The Cardinals improved to 9-3 in primetime games under coach Bruce Arians, including a 3-0 mark on Monday Night Football.

– The Cardinals improved to 27-7 versus non-division opponents under Arians, including a 17-1 record at home during that span.

– Among the Cardinals’ inactives were right guard Mike Iupati and defensive tackle Ed Stinson. Both were sidelined due to injury.

– The Jets visit leaves the Jaguars and Titans as the only teams never to have played at University of Phoenix Stadium.

UP NEXT

It’s another primetime appearance for the Cardinals, their third in as many weeks.

They host Seattle as part of Sunday Night Football. Kickoff is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. with pregame coverage beginning four hours earlier on Arizona Sports 98.7 FM.

The Seahawks have won three of four and five of seven against the Cardinals, including the most recent meeting, 36-6, at University of Phoenix Stadium.

In fact, the Seahawks have won their last three trips to the Valley, scoring at least 34 points in each contest.

Overall, the series matchup between NFC West rivals is tied 17-17.

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