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55 and 2.8
For the first time this year the Arizona Cardinals running game was shut down. RB Chris Johnson managed only 40 yard on 14 carries while David Johnson and Andre Ellington both did next to nothing.
As a team, Arizona totaled only 55 yards on the ground and even more disappointing was a very lackluster 2.8 yards per carry.
The inability for the Cardinals offense to stay balanced played a large part in the disappointing loss and the team will need to get back to the run/pass ratio that it displayed over the first five games of the season.
Because of the rushing issues mentioned above QB Carson Palmer was forced to air it out early and often against the Pittsburgh Steelers. As good as Palmer has been so far in 2015, Arizona doesn’t want him throwing the ball 45 times like he did in the Steel City.
Palmer accumulated his lowest QB Rating in a game this season (83.7) and threw a pair of interceptions which cost the Cardinals any shot at winning the game.
Going forward, coach Bruce Arians and company would prefer Palmer air it out less than 40 times per game to make sure the run game is keeping opposing defenses honest.
137 and 22.8
Sure, the stat line of Pittsburgh wideout Martavis Bryant was padded by a late 88-yard touchdown reception, but Bryant was clearly the difference in Sunday’s matchup.
Bryant had missed the Steelers first five games of the season and Arizona would have like him to miss one more. Unfortunately that wasn’t the case and Bryant dominated the Cardinals secondary to the tune of six catches for 137 yards and two touchdowns.
Bryant is known for his big-play ability and he didn’t disappoint this past weekend averaging an astounding 22.8 yards per catch.
Perhaps the most alarming number in terms of the Arizona defense is third-string QB Landry Jones’ QB Rating of 149.3. With Ben Roethlisberger already out due to injury and backup Michael Vick sidelined late in the game, Jones came off the bench and won the game for the Steelers.
The Cardinals secondary has been heavily praised so far in 2015, but they were unable to corral Jones, who was seeing his first regular-season action as a professional in Sunday’s contest.
Arizona, for the most part, held Vick in check both through the air and on the ground, but wasn’t near as successful once Jones entered the game.
While the inability to stop Jones was the most disappointing factor from the Cardinals’ second loss of the season, the emergence of speedy WR John Brown was clearly the most encouraging.
Many expected Brown to breakout during the 2015 campaign and while he’s been off to somewhat of slow start, the second-year receiver exploded against the Steelers. Brown grabbed 10 passes for 196 yards, making good use of his team-high 14 targets.
We’ve been calling for this all year and while it was good to finally see, the chemistry between Palmer and Brown will need to continue for the Arizona offense to reach its full potential in 2015.
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