150 (Arizona Cardinals' rushing yards)
While it wasn’t necessarily the dominating performance that it looked to be, the Arizona offense racked up 150 rushing yards against the Baltimore Ravens. RB Chris Johnson led the way with 122 yards on 18 carries, but 62 of those yards came on a fluke play in which Johnson didn’t hit the ground and bounced off a Ravens defender for a big game.
By our eye, the Cardinals running game struggled on early downs as well as in the red zone and wasn’t as consistent as coach Bruce Arians and company need to be the dominate team that many are claiming Arizona to be. Look for this area to make or break the Cardinals going forward this season and we think they need to get better.
122.1 (Carson Palmer’s QB Rating)
Palmer’s QB Rating of 122.1 signified another terrific performance by the surging signal caller, but again we saw some flaws in Palmer’s performance against Baltimore. Palmer benefited from excellent plays in traffic by wideouts John Brown and Michael Floyd – plays that could easily have went the other way leading to turnovers.
Similar to the run game, Palmer wasn’t quite as good in the red zone as Arizona had to settle for field goals when touchdowns were there for the taking. We’d like to see Palmer be more accurate on intermediate routes and take more deep shots to Brown and Floyd down to field to put added pressure on opposing defenses.
2 of 4 (Cardinals’ red zone efficiency)
We’ve already identified the Cardinals’ redzone offense inefficiencies above and the team needed to settle for field goals in two of four red zone trips. Obviously, this didn’t cost Arizona the victory, but it easily could have led to a disappointing loss given that Baltimore had the ball in point blank range with a chance to send the game to overtime late in Monday’s contest.
Palmer needs to be more accurate in the red zone and the team’s running game must find more holes upfront in order to solve this problem wich has flared up in the team’s two losses this season (St. Louis Rams and Pittsburgh Steelers).
1 and 1 (Missed extra point and blocked punt)
Speaking of almost costing Arizona the game, one late missed extra point and one blocked punt nearly led to disaster for the Cardinals. Kicker Chandler Catanzaro missed an extra point following Palmer to Brown touchdown and left the game within reach for Baltimore at 26-10.
Following that mishap, a blocked punt – which led to a touchdown and two-point conversion – led to the Ravens cutting it two a one possession game at 26-18. Fortunately for Arizona, Flacco was intercepted in the end zone to seal the win, but the Cardinals could have easily been on the other side of Monday’s outcome.
55 (Rushing yards allowed by Arizona)
The Cardinals defense wasn’t perfect on Monday night but one area they excelled was against the run. Part of this was due to the Ravens playing from behind for most of the game, but RB Justin Forsett and Buck Allen had little room to run upfront.
We said before that if Arizona can force Joe Flacco and the Baltimore offense to be one-dimensional through the air, its odds of winning would improve dramatically and that’s exactly what happened in a 26-18 Cardinals win.