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After Slow Start, Defense Rallies

Posted Nov 17, 2013

Notebook: Cards avoid turnovers in one wild stretch; Special teamers injured

Cornerback Jerraud Powers (25) returns an interception Sunday as safety Yeremiah Bell -- who later got an interception of his own -- looks to block during the 27-14 win.

JACKSONVILLE, FLA. – Style trumped substance for the first 10 minutes of the Cardinals game against the Jaguars on Sunday afternoon.

An outmanned Jacksonville offense pulled out all the stops and it resulted in 14 points on the first two drives. On the first, coach Gus Bradley went for it on 4th-and-1 from the team’s own 38-yard-line and Chad Henne found Danny Noble for a 62-yard touchdown on a play-action pass.

On the second, drive, Henne connected on a 21-yard strike to an uncovered Clay Harbor, who lined up next to the Jacksonville sideline while the rest of the team bunched near the middle of the field. Maurice Jones-Drew punctuated the drive with a 1-yard touchdown run.

“They ran a lot of gimmicks on us early,” cornerback Patrick Peterson said. “When you’re playing these types of teams, you have to prepare for the unexpected.”

Gimmicks generally have a short shelf life, though, and soon the Cardinals defense settled down. It shut out the Jaguars the rest of the way in the 27-14 win.

“I think they came in with nine trick plays,” defensive tackle Darnell Dockett said. “They ran all of them, then they had to play football, and the game was over.”

Jones-Drew’s touchdown was set up by a taunting penalty on safety Yeremiah Bell, flipping a fourth-and-goal from the 3 to a first-and-goal at the 1. Bell didn’t think a penalty should have been called, after he and tight end Marcedes Lewis were yelling at each other following an incompletion.

“I was very surprised, especially with the explanation he gave,” Bell said. “He said that I walked up in (Lewis’) face, but I think, actually, if you watch the play, he walked up in my face.”

The call seemed unusual in a league where jawing is commonplace.

“We stopped them on the goal-line and I still didn’t see any taunting,” coach Bruce Arians said.

Bell atoned for that mistake late, picking off a Henne pass with 1:38 remaining to cement the win.

“It’s always good to get that play and get off the field,” Bell said.

AVOIDING DISASTER IN THE THIRD QUARTER

The Cardinals took control with 10 straight points after halftime, but there were dicey back-to-back moments midway through the third quarter. Peterson muffed a punt and it looked as if Jacksonville was surely going to recover inside the Cardinals’ 10-yard line, but he somehow wrestled it away from multiple Jaguars to keep possession.

“I just snatched it out of there,” Peterson said. “I didn’t want to give up the ball, especially down there at the 5-yard line.”

The play was upheld after an instant replay review, although such challenge of the muffed punt was not supposed to be allowed.

On the next play, quarterback Carson Palmer was intercepted by linebacker Russell Allen, but the play was waved off because the Cardinals called timeout prior to the snap.

“After I called the play I second-guessed myself and I called timeout quickly,” Arians said. “He was trying to find his whistle but the referee did a great job running in to stop the play.”

Palmer didn’t throw an interception in a game for the first time this season due to the lucky break.

“Just pointed up and said, ‘Thank you, God,’” said Palmer of his reaction. “I knew we had the wrong personnel on the field and I knew it was a bad play from the get-go. I’m told to run what’s called, and B.A. realized that we ran the wrong group on the field and did a great job saving my butt.” 

TEDDY WILLIAMS AND JUSTIN BETHEL INJURED ON PUNT COVERAGE

Wide receiver Teddy Williams tore his Achilles in the fourth quarter and will miss the rest of the season. The former college track star had a long catch against the Falcons and was one of the special teams gunners.

Cornerback Justin Bethel, another special teams gunner and Pro Bowl candidate, suffered a head injury on a blindside hit during the second quarter and didn’t return because of a concussion.


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