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To Start, Drew Stanton Beats Detroit

Posted Nov 16, 2014

In his first game since Palmer injury, quarterback gets two TDs, overcomes two interceptions

Quarterback Drew Stanton fires a pass during the Cardinals' 14-6 win over Detroit Sunday.

Drew Stanton is on baby duty the next two nights, in charge of newborn daughter Emeric so his wife can get some sleep. On Wednesday, he will get the Cardinals’ offensive game plan and start preparing for next week’s matchup against the Seahawks.

That’s as far down the line the team’s new starting quarterback is willing to look. After throwing for 306 yards with a pair of touchdowns in Sunday’s 14-6 win over the Lions, Stanton added credence to the idea he can lead the Cardinals to the Super Bowl -- but like his young girl, Stanton will be taking baby steps.

“The Super Bowl is three months away, so who knows? I don’t,” Stanton said. “All that stuff is so far off and I don’t worry about that stuff. I can’t, because the most games I’ve ever started in my career (in a season) has been three anyway. Who knows how long that’s been? I’m going day-by-day, let alone week-by-week. That whole thing, it’ll take care of itself if we continue to take care of business each and every week like we should.”

The Cardinals didn’t miss a beat against Detroit despite playing their first game following the season-ending ACL injury to starting quarterback Carson Palmer. Coach Bruce Arians, the Cardinals receivers and anyone else asked in the locker room professed their faith in Stanton this week, and any doubts were answered quickly.

He led the team on three long drives to open the game – 80, 77 and 66 yards -- the first two of which resulted in touchdown passes to Michael Floyd.

The first score came on the opening possession, when Stanton lofted a 42-yard bomb to Floyd, who went up against 1-on-1 coverage and hauled it in. The second came on a quick throw as a blitzer raced toward him untouched. Stanton stood in the pocket and took the hit, getting the ball away for the 14-0 lead.

“Drew just stood there and took a shot for the team,” Arians said.

The flow remained on the third drive until Stanton was picked off by Lions linebacker Josh Bynes, although he did make a nice tackle to prevent a long return. Stanton was picked off by cornerback Cassius Vaughn late in the second quarter and the offense didn’t score the rest of the way, but the normally aggressive Arians was content to ride a defense which was dominating Detroit.

In the end, Stanton completed 21-of-32 passes – the 65.6 completion percentage his best this year – and helped the team convert 8-of-14 third downs.

More than anything, he didn’t look like a lost backup trying to play with the big boys, which Arians said shouldn’t be a surprise after Stanton’s 2-1 record while filling in for Palmer earlier this year.

“They must not have watched September football, because he played damn good in September, too,” said Arians when asked about those who doubted Stanton before the game. “This is not the first time he jumped out there. This is his fourth game. He’s 3-1 as a starter and didn’t finish (the loss). So I think they should notice him.”

Stanton’s 306 yards passing were the second-most by a Cardinals quarterback this season, trailing only Palmer’s 329 against the Eagles.

Although the offense was shut out in the second half, it converted a 3rd-and-11 right before the two-minute warning to secure the victory. Stanton dropped back and found wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald just past the first-down marker and he took a couple kneel-downs to end it.

“That was my goal of what I was preaching to those guys before we went out there,” Stanton said. “We need to finish this football game with the ball in our hands. That needs to be our goal every single week.”

The Cardinals emerge from the game in great shape, with the best record in the NFL and a sizable lead in the division. It signals the end of a whirlwind week for Stanton, who learned he would be the starter on Monday, had his daughter on Tuesday and beat his former team and NFC heavyweight Detroit on Sunday.

Stanton said he would finally have time to sit and digest it afterward, but not for very long. If the Cardinals do indeed want to be Super Bowl contenders, they’ll need similar performances from him down the stretch.

“My family is here,” Stanton said. “We’ll go home and enjoy this, then tomorrow I’ll wake up and get ready to go again. It’s Groundhog Day in my house and my wife’s aware of that until we’re done playing. We’ll have to keep moving forward.”

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