The Arizona Cardinals avoided starting the season 0-2 on Sunday with a 16-13 overtime victory over the Indianapolis Colts. It wasn’t pretty. The Cardinals had five new offensive starters because of injuries. They played a Colts team without Andrew Luck and three defensive starters.
But they got the win. They played well defensively and made plays late in the game to secure the victory.
What can we take away from the game?
1. Cardinals struggled offensively, especially in 1st half, but rebounded. 1/8 on 3rd down in 1st half, 5/7 thereafter.
The first half they got a very good effort from the Colts defense. Indy gave up 46 points to the Los Angeles Rams in Week 1. They came to play and got the Cardinals offense off the field early. But they couldn’t sustain it and gave up big pass plays. J.J. Nelson scored on a 45-yard pass. He had a 31-yard reception as well. Jaroon Brown had a pair of 20-yarders. Brittan Golden had one go for 29 yards.
2. Cards' top players made big plays late in game. Carson Palmer made big throws late. Tyrann Mathieu has OT INT. Chandler Jones a sack.
Last week against the Lions, the Cardinals’ best were not the best. Carsonpalmer threw three interceptions. David Johnson fumbled twice. Markus Golden generated only one pressure. Chandler Jones had a sack, but missed several others. Tyrann Mathieu was invisible.
Against the Colts, their best players came up big when it counted. With David Johnson out, they need more of that from more players.
3. Cardinals overcome deficit, mistakes. They didn't do that on road in 2016. 6 penalties, 4 sacks, missed FG, bad INT. They still win.
Too often in 2016, the Cardinals were unable to overcome adversity and deficits. It happened in Buffalo, in Carolina and Miami. While they had issues in Indy, the fact they came back is huge.
4. Carson Palmer, with first-half struggles, rebounds from awful Week 1 performance. 19/36, 332 yards, big TD pass.
Palmer was much better than he was in Detroit, but he still wasn’t good. Coach Bruce Arians even put the blame squarely on Palmer’s shoulder for the play in the first half. Despite the interception and a couple of almost interceptions in the first half, he recovered to make big plays down the field.
It probably wouldn’t be enough to beat the Dallas Cowboys, whom Arizona plays next week. But it was good enough in Indy, and for now that is all that counts.