The Cardinals defense was among the league’s best throughout the season and came up big in many different instances. Numerous plays were up for consideration, and azcardinals.com narrowed it down to the best of the best. Here are our Top Five Defensive Plays of 2015:
5. FLYING PAST THE EAGLES
The situation: The Cardinals were pulling away in Week 15, but with a full quarter remaining, there was still a sliver of a hope left for the Eagles. That ended abruptly at the hands of safety
The play: The former first-round pick secured his first NFL interception, helped by pressure up the middle from linebacker
The aftermath: The score put the Cardinals ahead by a commanding 37-10 score, and while the Eagles would score quickly after, the outcome was wrapped up. The Cardinals clinched the NFC West title with the victory and Bucannon proved his worth as one of the top players on a stout defense.
4. TAKING IT TO THE HOUSE
The situation: The Cardinals had already jumped on 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick early in Week 3, as he threw a pick-six to
The play: Safety
The aftermath: The touchdown gave the Cardinals a 14-0 first quarter lead in a 47-7 laugher. It was the first of two interceptions on the day for Mathieu, who showed the first flashes of what would become a dominant season on defense.
3. RUMBLING TO THE END ZONE
The situation: The Cardinals were already having their way with the Packers in Week 16, taking a 24-0 lead early in the third quarter. Linebacker
The play: Martin used a speed rush to get around the edge and jarred the ball loose from Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers. Redding scooped it up and began his rumble to the end zone, throwing Green Bay running back Eddie Lacy to the ground on his way.
The aftermath: The touchdown pushed the lead to 31-0 in an eventual 38-8 whipping. It was the Cardinals’ most dominant defensive effort of the season and it clinched a first-round playoff bye. Redding was redeemed after failing to return an interception for a score earlier in the season against the Lions.
2. SAVING THE DAY AGAINST BALTIMORE
The situation: A game that looked wrapped up for the Cardinals went south in a hurry. A blocked punt and ensuing touchdown pulled the Ravens to within eight points late in the fourth quarter of Week 7, and Baltimore then got the ball back with a chance to tie.
The play: The Ravens had a second-and-goal at the Arizona 9 with 13 seconds remaining, but that’s where the comeback attempt ended. Safety
The aftermath: The victory pushed the Cardinals’ record to 5-2 and kickstarted a stretch of nine straight victories. It was Jefferson’s second interception of the season, following a pick-six against the Bears in Week 2.
1. STRIPPING AWAY MINNESOTA’S COMEBACK HOPES
The situation: The Cardinals led the Vikings 23-20 in the fourth quarter of Week 14, but Minnesota was in field goal range and looking to push the game to overtime. Quarterback Teddy Bridgewater dropped back to pass from the Arizona 31 with 13 seconds remaining, but never got the pass off.
The play: Linebacker
The aftermath: The win clinched a playoff berth for the Cardinals and continued their impressive showings on primetime television. Freeney proved to be a difference-making pickup. He was signed five weeks into the season but still led the Cardinals with eight sacks, none bigger than the one against Minnesota.