CARDINALS WIN! 3 big takeaways from victory over Buccaneers

CARDINALS WIN! 3 big takeaways from victory over Buccaneers
Posted at 4:19 PM, Oct 15, 2017
and last updated 2017-10-16 00:14:13-04

Their big trade paid off in a big way, and the Arizona Cardinals are back in business.

The Cards opened up a 31-0 lead over the visiting Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday and held on for dear life to earn a 38-33 victory at University of Phoenix Stadium and move to 3-3 on the season. Here are three big takeaways from the win.

1. Welcome to the desert, Mr. Peterson

We have to start with the new guy. The Cardinals traded for Adrian Peterson, the future Hall of Fame running back, on Tuesday; five days later, he may have turned the Cards' season around.

Peterson scored a touchdown on the Cardinals' first possession of the game Sunday on a 27-yard run, and he added another 1-yard score following a fourth-quarter interception to seal the win. It was the 50th 100-yard game of Peterson's career and by far the Cardinals' best rushing game of the season. His 85 first-half yards were more than the 81 he had in four games with the Saints.

Peterson ended the game with 134 yards on 26 carries, for 5.2 yards per carry. The Cardinals came into Sunday's game averaging half that total (2.6 yards per carry).

Even LeBron James was impressed with Peterson's Cardinals debut.

2. Larry's big first half

The only man on the field who had a bigger first half than Peterson did Larry Fitzgerald, who did pretty much whatever he wanted against Tampa Bay in the first half. He gained 128 yards and a touchdown on eight first-half catches, marking the sixth time in his career he topped 100 receiving yards in the first half alone.

Despite a fourth-quarter fumble that was recovered and returned for a touchdown, Fitz moved up to No. 7 on the NFL's all-time receiving list with his 10 catches for 138 yards on Sunday, and his onside-kick recovery with two minutes to play ensured the Bucs wouldn't have a chance to complete their comeback.

3. Defense does enough

It was a shaky (to say the least) performance in the second half, but the Cardinals' defense made enough big plays Sunday to thwart a furious Tampa Bay comeback.

Safety Antoine Bethea recorded his third interception in as many games on Tampa's first drive of the third quarter to set up a Cardinals touchdown, and after the Bucs cut the lead to 31-20 in the fourth quarter, cornerback Tramon Williams -- filling in for Patrick Peterson, who left the game with a quad injury -- caught an interception of his own to set up Adrian Peterson's second TD of the game.

Also, linebacker Chandler Jones recorded his sixth sack of the season, the second-most in team history through the first six games of a season.