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Cardinals Smoke Lions On Road

Posted Oct 11, 2015

Defense forces six turnovers, offense goes 5-for-5 in red zone during 42-17 blowout

Cardinals wide receiver John "Smokey" Brown is congratulated by teammates after his 18-yard touchdown reception during Sunday's 42-17 win in Detroit.

DETROIT – Carson Palmer was showered, his team’s 42-17 demolition of the Detroit Lions less than an hour old, when he considered how long it had taken him to get past the previous week’s close home loss to the Rams

“I finally did get past last week 30 minutes, 45 minutes ago,” the quarterback said. “That one lingered for a long time.

“We needed to do what we did today to get past it.”

What the Cardinals (4-1) did was jump back into their blowout ways, in a performance that echoed earlier wins over the 49ers and Bears. The defense keyed it, forcing six turnovers. The run game buoyed a slow-starting offense, with 187 yards on the ground – the most yards the Cardinals had rushed for since 2013, when they had 201 as a team against Atlanta.

Coach Bruce Arians joked that the offensive statistics suffered because of the turnover-induced short fields, but, said center Lyle Sendlein, “I’ll take points over yards any time.”

The Cards will also take a dominant road win heading into a week on the road. The team flew after the game to West Virginia, where they will practice before playing in Pittsburgh next weekend.

It certainly didn’t start that way for the offense, at least. After not having a three-and-out the whole game against the Rams, the Cardinals (4-1) had two on their first two possessions. The Cardinals had scored in each of their previous 16 quarters in 2015 before being shut out Sunday.

Then the Cardinals, trailing 7-0, scored 28 points in the second quarter.

“We showed some resiliency,” Sendlein said. “I guess we needed them to score first to get us going.”

It started with a run game that continues to be anchored by veteran Chris Johnson. Andre Ellington finally returned to play after his Week 1 knee sprain, but there is little doubt who the Cards’ top back is right now. Johnson 103 yards on 11 carries, and Ellington had a 63-yard touchdown run.

The game-defining drive came after the Cards took a 14-7 lead and a Lions punt pinned them on their own 1-yard line. A Johnson run netted no yards. On second down, Palmer faded into his own end zone and hurled a bomb to John “Smokey” Brown down the field. Brown beat Lions cornerback Darius Slay for a 49-yard gain.

Chris Johnson then busted off an eight-yard run and then one for 40, to get the ball to the Detroit 2. The next play, rookie David Johnson barreled in for a touchdown.

Ninety-nine yards in only five plays, in a blink. The Lions (0-5) were all but done by then.

“I would’ve liked a 98-yard touchdown pass (to Brown),” Arians said with a smile. “At least we had a catch and not a pass interference.”

Another reason for Palmer to get over the Rams’ loss – the red-zone efficiency that had disappeared against St. Louis (1-for-5) reappeared in Detroit as the Cardinals went 5-for-5.

But it was the defense that killed the Lions from jump. It intercepted Matthew Stafford three times and recovered two fumbles, eventually earning Stafford a benching in favor of backup quarterback Dan Orlovsky.

Defensive end Cory Redding had the highlight play, intercepting an attempted screen pass and rumbling 30 yards to the Lions 4 – tripped up only by Stafford in a one-on-one situation.

“The guys were on the field, ‘Why didn’t you score, why didn’t you make a move, spin move or something,’ ” Redding said with a smile. “But it was all in fun.”

Fun because the Cardinals were rolling.

“Turnovers come in bunches,” Redding added. “It was a great defensive effort. We just wanted to make plays. We got picks, we got sacks, we got fumble recoveries. From the stat sheet, you’d say it was a dominant day for us. But still there were plays we left on the field.”

There were other reasons to temper excitement. Starting linebacker Alex Okafor hurt his calf and special teams ace Kenny Demens, a linebacker, said he believes he tore his left ACL. Arians said both – along with safety Chris Clemons (hamstring) – would fly back to Arizona for MRIs. Asked about their status, Arians said “I do not feel good.”

There were other things to feel good about, like the two interceptions by safety Rashad Johnson, the continued success of Chris Johnson – GM Steve Keim’s latest one-year wonder – the efficiency of Palmer. (Palmer was 11-for-14 for 161 yards and three touchdowns before coming out early in the fourth quarter.)

“It speaks volumes of the character of the football team how they play after a loss,” Arians said. “I thought our veterans had this group more than ready.”

The Cards will regroup away from home, with a chance to watch the Steelers Monday night, when their next opponent plays in San Diego. If they can put together another game like Sunday’s showing, there couldn’t be a more successful road trip.

“Everybody had their turn (Sunday),” said wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald, who had his sixth touchdown catch of the season. “Everybody had their bite at the apple.”

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