PHOENIX - After watching the Cardinals defense come up big when it had too, there's no question that will be the team's savior this season. That's not to down play the offense, but the defense came up with stop after stop with the game on the line, and if they can hold opponents to 21 points or less, the Cardinals have a legitimate shot at coming away with six or more wins.
Look, Carson Palmer is the best addition the Cardinals have made in the last four seasons and if the veteran signal caller can stay healthy and keep doing what he's doing, the offense will score enough points to win the close ones.
Palmer finished with 248 yards, 1 touchdown and 1 interception against the Lions; not exactly great numbers but good enough to manage Bruce Arian's offense. Palmer's 73.5 rating is pedestrian, but he still stands in the pocket and doesn't seem to get rattled! That's a huge upgrade over what we've had in the post-Kurt Warner era.
Palmer also threw to 10 different receivers on the day, proving that he has the vision to see the field and he doesn't continue to pick out a receiver in his pre-snap reads and go that direction regardless of the coverage. Isn't it nice to have a savvy veteran at quarterback?
And kudos to the Cardinals offensive line! After a disappointing outing last week in St. Louis, the front five came up big against the Lions, yielding just one sack to one of the better defensive lines in the league.
On defense, Cardinals All-Pro cornerback, Patrick Peterson was given the task of covering the guy who many believe to be the best receiver in the game today, number 81 for the Lions, Calvin Johnson. While Johnson finished with significant numbers (6 catches for 116 yards and two touchdowns) Peterson held him below his average numbers.
As promised, Peterson also playing on offense, catching a pass from Palmer and then throwing one to former Hamilton High and ASU star, Kerry Taylor.
The Cardinals finish with 348 yards of offense and 25 points while holding the Lions to 322 yards and 21 points. All in all, the kind of outing we expect of the Cardinals playing at home.
If they can keep this up, expect a huge improvement in the team this year over last. The only problem is, the final record may not reflect that improvement. But they will be fun to watch!
Oh, and don't forget how good the Seahawks looked in their 29 - 3 win over the 49ers. More proof that wins won't be easy to come by in the NFC West!