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Cardinals’ Top Plays Of 2017: Offense

Posted Jan 16, 2018

Looking back at some of the best moments of the season on offense

The Cardinals battled myriad injuries on offense in 2017, but still had their fair share of memorable moments. Here are the picks for the top five offensive plays of the season:

5. GABBERT THROWS DEEP

The situation: The Cardinals were leading for most of the game against Jaguars, but a fumble return for a touchdown by Calais Campbell gave Jacksonville a 17-16 advantage early in the fourth quarter. Quarterback Blaine Gabbert got the ball back on the next possession, needing to make something happen.

The play: The Cardinals were near midfield when Gabbert dropped back, looking for the deep ball. Campbell pressured him and swiped at the ball, but barely missed it. Gabbert shuffled forward in the pocket and unleashed a long ball to Jaron Brown, who adjusted his route and hauled in the pass for a 52-yard touchdown.

The aftermath: The score gave the Cardinals a 24-17 lead. The Jaguars tied it up at 24 but the Cardinals eventually got the victory, 27-24, on a 57-yard field goal by kicker Phil Dawson as time expired.

4. STANTON SCRAMBLES IN SEATTLE

The situation: The Cardinals wanted to get off to a quick start on the road against the Seahawks in the season finale. They received the opening kickoff, and quarterback Drew Stanton helped march the team down the field on its opening possession. A five-yard run by Kerwynn Williams gave the Cardinals a first down at the Seattle 25.

The play: Stanton was in trouble immediately as Seahawks defensive end Michael Bennett knifed into the backfield. Stanton responded by running backward and toward the sideline, attempting to elude Bennett’s grasp. Stanton’s mobility helped him spring free, as Bennett dove and missed the sack. That gave Stanton time to direct traffic downfield, and he threw a perfect pass to Brown in the corner of the end zone for a 25-yard score.

The aftermath: The offense looked great early on as the Cardinals pulled ahead 20-7 at the half. The Seahawks rallied back, but Dawson hit a late field goal to give the Cardinals the lead. Blair Walsh missed a potential game-winner for Seattle, as Stanton and Brown’s big play helped coach Bruce Arians retire with 50 wins, the most in franchise history.

3. NELSON TO THE RESCUE

The situation: The Cardinals’ offense sputtered for much of Week 2 in Indianapolis, and the team look destined to start the season in an 0-2 hole. The Colts led, 13-3, with 7:47 remaining in the contest, and the Cardinals needed a big play to cut into the deficit. J.J. Nelson answered the bell.

The play: Quarterback Carson Palmer faked a handoff and rolled a little bit to his right. The protection from the offensive line was perfect, allowing him to look downfield. Nelson had two defenders on him but they were both trailing. Palmer slung a perfect pass and Nelson brought it in for a 45-yard score.

The aftermath: The Cardinals jumped back into the game with the touchdown, and a Phil Dawson field goal forced overtime. The Cardinals won the game in the extra session for their first victory of the season. Nelson finished the game with five catches for 120 yards and the score.

2. PETERSON’S EYE-OPENING DEBUT

The situation: The Cardinals were hoping the acquisition of running back Adrian Peterson would give the team a jolt, and he couldn’t have delivered any more perfectly. Peterson had an electric debut against the Buccaneers, highlighted by a vintage showing on the team’s first drive. Peterson reeled off runs of 8, 8 and 11 yards and saved his best for last.

The play: Palmer handed the ball off to Peterson again on a first-and-10 from the Tampa Bay 27. He used a jump-cut to align with a hole up the middle and accelerated through it. A block by wide receiver Jaron Brown helped clear the way, and Peterson out-raced the Buccaneers’ defenders to the end zone for an emphatic cap on an impressive drive.

The aftermath: This was the start of the Cardinals’ most impressive offensive game of the season. Peterson had some other nice moments during the season and finished as the team’s leading rusher, but this was the pinnacle of his performances.

1. FITZGERALD FOR THE WIN

The situation: The offense didn’t muster a touchdown in regulation against the 49ers, and when San Francisco kicked a field goal on the opening possession of overtime, the Cardinals were staring at a possible loss against a winless opponent. But the Cardinals moved the ball down the field on their possession, making it into the San Francisco red zone as time ticked down.

The play: With only 38 seconds left in overtime, the prospect of a tie loomed, but the Cardinals’ duo of Palmer and Fitzgerald made sure it wouldn’t happen. Fitzgerald found a crack in the defense and Palmer delivered a strike to the end zone. San Francisco cornerback Rashard Robinson tried to jar the ball loose but Fitzgerald held on for the 19-yard game-winning touchdown.

The aftermath: The Cardinals didn’t play great through the first four weeks of the season, but this crucial final drive helped them escape with a 2-2 start. Injuries eventually took their toll as the Cardinals fell out of the playoff hunt, but like he has done throughout his career, Fitzgerald shined in the biggest of moments.

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