Carson Palmer (right) and the Cardinals fell to the Eagles.
The Arizona Cardinals suffered a tough 24-21 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles yesterday afternoon. Carson Palmer threw for 301 yards and two touchdowns but committed three turnovers in the loss. Arizona continued to get beaten by tight ends as the duo of Brent Celek and Zach Ertz combined to score all three touchdowns for Philadelphia. Both teams stand at 7-5 with four games left in the season.
Michael Floyd had another strong game with 99 yards and one touchdown. Larry Fitzgerald also found the end zone in the losing effort. Andre Ellington sat out with a knee injury, and it changed the way the running game produced yardage in this loss.
Let’s take a look at how the Cardinals graded out in this game.
Carson Palmer was the only Arizona quarterback on the field in this game. Palmer threw for more than 300 yards for the third game in a row and has five consecutive games with at least two touchdowns.
But that didn’t matter when he committed three turnovers, one of which directly led to a Philadelphia touchdown. That was the fumble he had on the opening drive when Trent Cole sacked and stripped him of the ball. His other two turnovers were interceptions when he underthrew his receiver.
Palmer looked like the quarterback Arizona fans had come to expect in the first half of the season. Hopefully, this was just a one-off and not the start of a regression. Don’t let the yardage numbers fool you. The Eagles came into the game giving up 300.1 yards per game, so this caliber of performance was just average against the Philadelphia defense.
Rashard Mendenhall, Stepfan Taylor and Alfonso Smith were the backs for Arizona in the loss. Mendenhall took the majority of the carries with 18 rushes for a season-high 76 yards. Taylor filled in for Ellington and finished with 15 rushing yards on three carries and 45 receiving yards on two catches.
Arizona needed to run the ball effectively to keep the Eagles on the sideline as long as possible. Mendenhall looked good but not great with his carries. Taylor was okay in his sporadic use, but the Cardinals still don’t have much of a running game.
The Cardinals didn’t have a real dynamic runner in this game, and some improvement in the rushing attack would have helped out.
Michael Floyd, Larry Fitzgerald, Andre Roberts, Brittan Golden and Jaron Brown were the Arizona wide receivers who each recorded at least one catch in this game.
Floyd finished with 99 yards and a touchdown, just one yard shy of his third straight 100-yard receiving game. He’s really come on lately and has been the team’s best receiver over the last three games. Fitzgerald scored a touchdown for the third consecutive game and had 72 yards on five catches.
Roberts continues to be mediocre with 29 yards on four catches. Golden and Brown each had a catch for less than seven yards, so the Cardinals had two wide receivers who were factors in the game.
Arizona’s wide receivers have been on a nice three-game run as of late. Floyd is looking like a nice complementary piece to Fitzgerald, and the Cardinals have a solid 1-2 punch at the position.
Tight ends Rob Housler and Jim Dray each had three catches in the game. Dray had 26 yards and a touchdown while Housler finished with 21 yards on the day.
Even with Palmer at quarterback, the tight ends have been underutilized this season. They add little to the passing game and have little more to offer in protection.
Offensive linemen Bradley Sowell, Daryn Colledge, Lyle Sendlein, Paul Fanaika and Eric Winston had a collectively rough game.
They allowed five sacks of Palmer on the day, and Sowell was worked over by Trent Cole of the Eagles for two of the sacks. Brandon Graham had two more sacks, and Demeco Ryans also got it on in the act with one of his own.
Just like the rest of the offense, the line took a step backward in the loss against the Eagles as they allowed 42 yards in losses on the five sacks. The first sack of the game led to a fumble and the first touchdown of the game for Ertz.
The offensive line didn’t create many holes for the running backs either and has work to do before next week’s contest.
Defensive linemen Calais Campbell, Dan Williams, Darnell Dockett and Alameda Ta’amu combined for eight tackles on the day. They didn’t get much pressure on Philadelphia quarterback Nick Foles but did a good job limiting running back LeSean McCoy to 79 rushing yards on 19 carries.
The defensive line has been playing well in the last four games, and it continues to be solid against the run. It’d get a better grade if it were able to put more pressure on opposing quarterbacks.
The linebackers had a good day with getting pressure on Foles. John Abraham, Karlos Dansby, Daryl Washington, Matt Shaughnessy and Marcus Benard combined to post 4.5 sacks on Foles. Campbell had the other half sack of Foles.
Washington led the way with nine tackles (eight solo), and Dansby also recorded nine tackles with seven solos. Shaughnessy had a good game with seven solo tackles, a sack and a total of four tackles for losses.
The linebackers were good but not great in this game. The tight end outburst for the Eagles came at the expense of the defensive backs more than the linebackers.
Defensive backs Patrick Peterson, Tyrann Mathieu, Rashad Johnson, Yeremiah Bell, Justin Bethel and Jerraud Powers were a mixed bag of results in this game.
Peterson was able to limit DeSean Jackson of the Eagles to 36 yards on five catches. Mathieu was quietly OK with two tackles, but the rest of the group had issues. Johnson, Bell and Powers had issues with covering Celek and Ertz, of which the Eagles took advantage.
The defensive backs need to play better on the whole to get a better grade. Arizona still needs to learn how to cover the tight end as it allowed three more touchdowns to the position this week.
Special teamers Jay Feely and Dave Zastudil had their typical days in the office. Feely hit all three extra points he tried but didn’t get a chance to kick a field goal.
Zastudil turned in his usual performance with five punts that averaged 46.2 yards per kick, and two of them dropped inside the 20-yard line.
Arizona had an issue with a fumble off a muffed punt early in the second quarter. Javier Arenas fumbled the ball early in the second quarter. Antoine Cason recovered it and ran it ahead for 16 yards before fumbling it himself. The Eagles thought they recovered it, but instant replay showed Cason was down just before he lost the ball. It was nearly a disaster for Arizona, but it got away with this special teams miscue.