Key Number: 122.8
Most everyone figured that Arizona Cardinals QB Carson Palmer was back and ready to roll, but the 13-year veteran proved it on Sunday. Palmer excelled against the New Orleans Saints defense accumulating a QB rating of 122.8. Palmer completed 19 of 32 passes for 307 yards and three touchdowns while committing no turnovers.
Palmer distributed the ball to eight different Cardinals receivers and looked comfortable in the pocket all afternoon. The Arizona offensive line was tremendous as Palmer was knocked down only once and not sacked a single time.
Key Number: 4.8
The Cardinals running game has been the butt of many jokes this offseason, but it came through on Sunday. Arizona averaged 4.8 yards per carry and was consistent all afternoon. In total, the Cardinals racked up 120 yards on 25 carries with Andre Ellington (12 carries for 69 yards) and Chris Johnson (10 carries for 37 yards) leading the way.
Unfortunately, Arizona saw a familiar site on Sunday as Ellington left with what appears to be a PCL injury in the second half. Ellington's injury, however, isn't considered to be serious and the team is calling it day-to-day at this point.
Key Number: 98
Speaking of Arizona running backs, how about that David Johnson? The Johnson hype has been up and down throughout the preseason and training camp but it's obviously a real thing following this weekend's contest. Johnson tallied 98 total yards on just two touches- the biggest being a 55-yard touchdown reception that sealed the win for the Cardinals.
Johnson also returned one kick for 43 yards, showing the explosiveness that the team expects out of him both on the return as well as the touchdown reception. Johnson didn't receive a carry, but he could be called upon next week should Ellington miss any time.
Key Number(s): 87 and 82
With special consideration we're going with two numbers in this spot. 87 represents WR Larry Fitzgerald's total receiving yards while 82 represents TE Darren Fells' receiving yards. Fitzgerald was thought to be old new heading into 2015 but he might not be ready to relinquish the Cardinals No. 1 wideout status just yet. We still expect John Brown to break out but Fitzgerald will remain a factor.
Meanwhile, few positions were scrutinized more this offseason for Arizona than tight end. With little to no expectations from that group, Fells made a huge impact, catching passes of 48 yards and a 17-yard touchdown strike from Palmer. Fells, a former professional basketball player, looks to be a true diamond in the rough who can give the Arizona offense a dimension it previously didn't have.
Key Number: 2
Another area that was maligned just as much as the Cardinals tight ends was the team's pass-rushing unit. While it wasn't an overwhelming performance, LB Alex Okafor proved that he cam be a dynamic pass rusher off the edge. Okafor sacked Drew Brees on two different occasions along with two additional hits on Brees.
Okafor and the Arizona pass rush are getting the accolades here but they were helped out tremendously by the team's secondary. The Cardinals held Brees to a QB rating of 83.2 and 7.4 yards per pass attempt - two underwhelming numbers that are far below his standards.
Cardinals vs. Saints Breakdown: 5 Key Numbers
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