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Cardinals Grounded By Eagles

Posted Oct 8, 2017

Philadelphia posts three-touchdown opening quarter en route to 34-7 win

Cardinals safety Budda Baker upends Eagles wide receiver Alshon Jeffery as cornerback Patrick Peterson looks on during the Cards' loss Sunday in Philadelphia.

PHILADELPHIA – Patrick Peterson isn’t one to wear his emotions on his sleeve, at least negative ones.

So to see the all-pro cornerback on the sideline Sunday yelling in anger, as cornerbacks coach Kevin Ross tried to calm him, was jarring. But perhaps it was no more so than the Cardinals’ performance at Lincoln Financial Field Sunday, as they were taken out, 34-7, by the Eagles.

“I wouldn’t say I was frustrated,” Peterson said. “I was just upset. I’m a passionate guy, a leader on this defense, a captain on this team. I just wanted to show my players how upset I was and hopefully it got through to them.”

It had an impact on coach Bruce Arians, who came out and took responsibility for the loss in his opening statement and then followed up with a blunt response when asked what he told his team.

“Blame me,” Arians said.

In some ways, the loss could be broken into thirds for the Cardinals (2-3) – as in, all the third downs the defense could not stop and the ones the offense could not convert. In all, the Eagles converted 9-of-14 and were 8-of-11 at the point they built a 31-7 lead. The Cardinals could only turn 4-of-14 third-downs into first downs.

After their own three-and-out to start the game, the Cards had two chances to stop the Eagles (4-1) on third-and-11 – and Philadelphia got first downs on both. They also got a first down on a pre-snap defensive penalty during the touchdown drive.

The Eagles ended up scoring 21 points in the first quarter.

“They put the game … not out of reach early, but a three-score game is very tough to come back on,” defensive lineman Frostee Rucker said.

The third-down problems were ultimately encapsulated on the play that set Peterson off. With the Eagles facing third-and-19, the Cardinals blitzed but could not get enough pressure. Quarterback Carson Wentz found wide receiver Nelson Agholor deep, having beat rookie safety Budda Baker.

The catch alone would have easily gotten the first, but Agholor faked out Baker to finish off a 72-yard touchdown play.

[READ: EAGLES AFTERMATH]

Peterson said he was angry at a number of things, but his reasons “will stay on the field.”

Wentz finished an incredible 11-for-12 passing for 225 yards and three touchdowns on third downs.

“I thought this game was going to be a game where we started to separate ourselves,” Peterson said. “Obviously we didn’t make enough plays out there, and the ballgame started a little too slow in all three phases. If we want to be a good team, we have to make sure we come out with a little more sense of urgency.”

Quarterback Carson Palmer, harried again much of the game with little help on the ground (the Cardinals ran for 31 yards on 14 carries), completed 28-of-44 passes for 291 yards and a touchdown. He lost a late touchdown when J.J. Nelson – perhaps fittingly on this day – fumbled the ball through the end zone near the goal line, turning it over.

“Things didn’t go our way,” Nelson said. “It’s the nature of the beast. On the road, you have to be error-free.”

Wentz, meanwhile, completed 21-of-30 passes for 304 yards and four touchdowns, with an interception by safety Antoine Bethea mixed in. The Eagles also ran for 122 yards.

The Cardinals suffered another significant injury too, with long snapper Aaron Brewer breaking his hand, Arians said. Defensive lineman Josh Mauro became the snapper on punts, with guard Evan Boehm doing it for field goals – and Arians acknowledged that the “slow operation” on Boehm’s snap on Phil Dawson’s 51-yard field goal right before halftime allowed it to be blocked off the edge.

“I would’ve felt a lot better at 21-10,” Arians admitted of a potential halftime score.

“We needed a three-and-out to start the second half,” Arians added, and instead the Eagles drove for a field goal of their own.

The block and long-snapper problems weren’t the only special teams issue. A missed tackle on a punt return by tight end Ifeanyi Momah turned run of a couple yards into a 76-yard runback by Kenjon Barner, setting up the Eagles’ second touchdown.

The Cardinals get a home game next week, but they play the Buccaneers, who like the 49ers a week ago, played on a Thursday night and will have extra time to prepare for the Cards. Then the day after, the Cardinals will leave for their week in London – not an easy trip, especially playing the suddenly tough Rams.

“We’ll police ourselves on this one,” Rucker said. “(Coach) can’t take this one. We played the game, we’ve got to take the ‘L.’ ”

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