RB Chris Johnson produced his second 100-yard rushing game since the start of the 2014 season and did so in impressive fashion. Johnson displayed tremendous vision and a solid burst against the once stout San Francisco 49ers defense.
Johnson’s performance thus far has overshadowed the loss of starter Andre Ellington, and Johnson could even overtake him as the starter. Ellington has always had injury issues and may be best suited as a change-of-pace back with Johnson taking over the role as the Cardinals’ lead back.
The Arizona defense continues its early-season surge and limited San Francisco to only 156 yards of total offense on the day. The 49ers did surpass 100 yards rushing (103) but managed only 53 yards passing resulting in a dismal performance by QB Colin Kaepernick.
The Cardinals held the 49ers to only 10 first downs in the game and just 4-of-12 on third down conversions as Kaepernick and company were out of sync from start to finish in Sunday’s contest.
More impressive than allowing a mere 156 yards of total offense was Arizona’s ability to force turnovers – to the tone of four Kaepernick interceptions. The Cardinals forced Kaepernick into bad decisions time after time, something that’s become a staple of the team’s defense.
Tyrann Mathieu led the charge with a pair of picks while Justin Bethel and Jerraud Powers each added one. Both Mathieu and Bethel returned an interception for a touchdown, confirming the fact that Arizona has one of the best ball-hawking defensive backfields in the NFL.
WR Larry Fitzgerald appears to be on track to make this list each and every week. Against the 49ers, Fitzgerald racked up nine grabs for 134 yards and two touchdowns. Fitzgerald is now on pace for a career season (123 receptions, 1,776 yards and 27 touchdowns).
Sure, that production won’t keep up, but Fitzgerald is making fools of the pundits calling for John Brown and Michael Floyd to be the Cardinals No. 1 wideout this year and beyond. Fitzgerald isn’t giving up that role just yet and it looks like it could be a handful of more years before that happens.
Speaking of surges, QB Carson Palmer continues to excel in his return from a torn ACL in 2014. Palmer had a QB Rating of 102.5 on Sunday and while he did throw his second interception of the season against San Francisco his stat line on the year is awfully impressive (803 yards, nine touchdowns and two interceptions).
Palmer has been helped tremendously by a solid offensive line and a surprisingly productive rushing attack. If those components of the Cardinals offense keep up, a career-best season could be in store for Palmer.
Cardinals vs. 49ers Breakdown: 5 Key Numbers
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