They sure know how to make it exciting. The Arizona Cardinals coughed up a 17-point lead in the final 3:12 of regulation before getting an Antoine Cason interception and a 41-yard field goal from Jay Feely in overtime to post a 37-34 overtime win. Arizona improves to 9-5 on the season and stands one game behind the 10-4 Carolina Panthers and the 10-4 San Francisco 49ers for the wild-card spots.
The Cardinals needed the win to save the season because being two games out of a wild-card spot with two games to play would be almost impossible to overcome.
Start the slideshow below, and see how the Cardinals graded out in this key win.
Carson Palmer was just blah at best this week. He connected on 20 of 30 throws for 231 yards and a touchdown with no interceptions. He distributed the ball to eight different receivers on the night and didn’t really do anything overly special or memorable in this game.
Palmer was able to use running back Andre Ellington effectively as he had a team-high 87 receiving yards in the win, but no other receiver had more than 50 yards on the game. He was protected well and had time to throw so more was expected of him.
Running Backs: Andre Ellington, Rashard Mendenhall, Stepfan Taylor
The Arizona running backs were the best offensive weapon the Cardinals had in this game. Andre Ellington had 71 rushing yards to go with 87 receiving yards. Rashard Mendenhall put forth his best game of the season as he rushed for 69 yards and two touchdowns on 21 carries. Stepfan Taylor had three carries for six yards.
Ellington showed plenty of potential as the back of the future for this team.
Wide Receivers: Larry Fitzgerald, Michael Floyd, Andre Roberts, Jaron Brown and Brittan Golden
It was an overall disappointing day for the wide receivers. Larry Fitzgerald led the way with 49 yards on six catches, and nobody else had more than three catches. Chalk it up to Palmer’s weak game and some tough defenders in the secondary for the Titans.
As if the offensive output wasn’t low enough, Adam Schefter reported on Twitter that Fitzgerald was concussed when he was trying to field the fourth-quarter onside kick in the final minute.
Tight Ends: Jake Ballard and Jim Dray
Jake Ballard scored a touchdown and Jim Dray was largely ineffective in the passing game. Both were able to help out considerably in the ground game. Rob Housler, the usual starter, was inactive due to a groin injury, according to Josh Weinfuss of ESPN.com.
The tight ends combined for 22 yards and a touchdown on four catches so they weren’t used much in the passing game. It shows that without Housler, this is a team with few options at the position.
Offensive linemen: Bradley Sowell, Daryn Colledge, Lyle Sendlein, Paul Fanaika and Eric Winston
The line did its job in this game. It blocked efficiently for the running backs and would get to the second level on longer plays. It kept Palmer upright, allowing two sacks and only five quarterback hits. It has quietly moved from a liability to an asset with its play of late.
It also gave the running backs room to work with which is a big plus.
Defensive linemen: Calais Campbell, Darnell Dockett, Dan Williams, Frostee Rucker and Alameda Ta’Amu
The defensive line had a solid game by getting pressure on Ryan Fitzpatrick which made his night tougher. It was also able to really disrupt the rushing game as the Titans combined for 66 yards on 19 rushes. The line has been forcing teams to pass all season and become one-dimensional on offense.
Linebackers: Daryl Washington, Karlos Dansby, Matt Shaughnessy, Marcus Benard and John Abraham
The linebackers were a mixed bag of results. Daryl Washington led the team with nine tackles, eight of them solo, and a pair of passes defensed. Karlos Dansby and John Abraham each had half of a sack while Marcus Benard and Matt Shaughnessy recorded a full sack each. They were able to bring the pressure but were weaker in pass coverage.
They were part of the defensive unit that allowed another touchdown to the tight end spot, this time to Delanie Walker. Walker finished the night with 53 yards on eight catches and scored the 15th touchdown Arizona has allowed at the tight end position this season.
Defensive Backs: Antoine Cason, Patrick Peterson, Jerraud Powers, Rashad Johnson, Yeremiah Bell, Tony Jefferson, Javier Arenas and Bryan McCann
The defense played its first game without Tyrann Mathieu and struggled in pass coverage. Kendall Wright had a great game against them with 150 receiving yards on 12 catches to lead all players. Nate Washington added 92 yards and Chris Johnson added 51 yards receiving on the night.
It’s far too many yards to be giving up against a losing team like the Titans. It’s a big weakness for a team that’s trying to make the playoffs and has two tough opponents left on the schedule.
Special Teams: Kicker Jay Feely, Punter Dave Zastudil, Long snapper Mike Leach
Jay Feely was perfect in this game hitting three field goals and four extra points, including the game-winning field goal in overtime. Dave Zastudil averaged 53 yards per punt and continued to help the Cardinals win the field-position battle all night.
This is the most consistent unit on the team.