PHOENIX, AZ - It's hard to reconcile my thoughts regarding the Cardinals season opening loss against the Rams. On one hand, I feel pretty good about the overall product the Cardinals put on the field, but on the other hand, I'm not happy with the loss. You just can't lose close games like this on the road!
First, what I liked: Carson Palmer finished 26 of 40 for 327 yards, two touchdowns and just one interception. It's been a long time since we've had a quarterback finish a game with those kind of statistics and a 96.6 quarterback rating.
Larry Fitzgerald is relevant again, finishing the game with eight catches for 80 yards and two touchdowns. Andre Roberts had eight catches for 97 yards and Michael Floyd had four catches for 82 yards. That's three top receivers with multiple catches and all three with more than 80 yards.
While there wasn't much of a running game, the Cardinals did enough on offense to win the game.
Defensively, rookie Tyrann Mathieu came up with a few good plays and one great play, while Matt Shaughnessy tipped a pass, and big Dan Williams came up with his first ever interception for a touchdown.
So now for the "not so good": Palmer was sacked five times! That's way too many for a guy who's not very mobile and a guy who's had a serious knee injury. Left tackle Levi Brown wasn't good. Brown gave up three sacks and looked outmanned on the left side.
The Cardinals couldn't put together any kind of running attack, finishing with just 86 yards of rushing on 26 carries for a 3.3 yards per carry average.
The defense gave up 366 yards of offense to the Rams and didn't sack Sam Bradford once. No sacks from a defense that was supposed to be better up front and was expected to put pressure on opposing quarterbacks.
So as I said, I come away with mixed feelings. On one hand, it's a loss and that never sits well, but on the other hand, it was actually a fun team to watch!
I really believe the Cardinals are a better football team. The only problem is, when all is said and done, the record may not show it.