We’ve done it! Three wins in a row – a first since the glory days of 2015. It was everything you’d expect from a Cardinals performance. Gritty, gutsy with a little sprinkle of defensive capitulation but as this young team has shown since Week 1, it’s got the ability to compete in this league.
Arizona travelled to the MetLife to face a Giants side who were going through some struggles of their own. Quarterback Daniel Jones has found it tough since his victorious showing in Week 3 against the Bucs and found it tough against linebacker Chandler Jones who is enjoying the best football of his career. Four sacks on Sunday made life very difficult for the rookie and puts Jones at the very top of the league in sacks since 2016.
There was a lot of talk before the game about the state of the Cardinals running game going into Sunday. The Cards are among the top 10 in the league for rushing with Chase Edmonds, David Johnson and Kyler Murray spearheading a team that has been utterly relentless on the ground. But fantasy owners were left sweating pre-game as it was uncertain just to the extent of David Johnson’s ankle injury that has hindered him throughout this season. But like in 2015 when the Cardinals won three on the bounce – Johnson’s ability as a leading rusher was discovered in spite of Chris Johnson’s injury which left him out for the season and turned DJ into a household name. With that being said – step forward, Chase Edmonds.
Before Week 7’s trip to the Big Apple, Chase has been AZ’s leader in yards per gain with Murray just behind him. Edmonds opened what was a tremendous account on the very first drive – Chase flying down the left side for a 20-yard touchdown that resembled his TD against the Bengals a fortnight ago. Credit to Murray who showed composure and patience to drive his offense down the field for a 75-yard drive that continued on from his monster showing against the Falcons last week.
The Red Sea and Edmonds didn’t have to wait too long for a second touchdown, and it all came from a long-awaited first interception of the season from Jordan Hicks – cutting in front of Golden Tate to snag the ball and return it back to the New York 46-yard line. Two short plays later and Edmonds danced his way up the middle for another 20-yard touchdown.
One huge statistic that has shown just how ruthless the offense has been is on scoring drives. The Ravens top the league, followed by the Chiefs, the Rams, the Cowboys and then the Cardinals. Great company to be in but a testament to the offense and an eye-opener that fewer field goals and more touchdowns means more wins for Arizona.
Three touchdowns and two field goals from kicker Zane Gonzalez, who has been a leader of his own in the league this year, was the perfect tonic to just take the game away from New York. The Giants could’ve still won the game had they finished with a touchdown on the final play but to no avail.
Anyone who knows the ‘Cardiac Cards’ know that an inevitable scare or defensive capitulation is always around the corner and their dominance in the first quarter was shrouded in the second quarter by a comeback from the Giants. Daniel Jones found his rhythm and his tight end ironically with a deep pass to Rhett Ellison to bring it back to a one-score game. But it all turned on a lapse of concentration on Special Teams when Andy Lee’s punt from inside his own end zone was blocked by safety Michael Thomas and recovered by offensive lineman James Brewer to make it a three-point game going into the half.
Edmond’s started from where he left off in the third quarter: another left-ended rush for a 20-yard touchdown to restore a 10-point lead. A trio of touchdowns that capped off an afternoon to remember for the second-year running back out of Fordham – finishing on 126 rushing yards and 150 overall in what was the standout performer on offense for the Cards. The Giants star running back Saquon Barkley could have done with those numbers – 72 yards and a touchdown in the third wasn’t enough to keep the Giants within any chance of going 3-5.
To their credit, the Cardinals defense stood firm in the second half – you could even go to say that the return of star corner Patrick Peterson has something to do with that. Their Defensive Coordinator would have grateful for his return, the Cardinals hassled the Giants to four consecutive stalls on offense that stagnated any hope of a completed comeback. Two of those coming from forced fumbles with ‘P2’ completely blindsiding Jones late in the fourth to put Arizona in great position just before the two-minute warning.
One final defensive stop that forced Jones into to throwing from his own end zone in the dying moments of the game was enough for a turnover on downs and a big win in the Big Apple.
There is one aspect that will need to be addressed before the Cardinals go on the road again to the Big Easy next Sunday. They are among the top two in the league for penalties allowed. The Saints sit at the top of the NFC South and have been merciless on offense even without Drew Brees who remains to be seen at the snap. If the Cardinals want to make it four wins or even stay competitive against a team that sits at 6-1 for the season, then discipline will need to be in order.
So, 3-3-1 on the year and a great atmosphere within this young team. New Orleans next in what will be the first real test for Kingsbury and this exciting Cardinals outfit. Remember guys – keep calm and enjoy this season without any expectations and we will all be fine.
But yeah – Miami in February sounds great, doesn’t it?
Feature Picture – Credit: Noah K. Murray/USA TODAY Sports