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Welcome Help From Antoine Cason

Posted Dec 15, 2013

Veteran cornerback has two interceptions against Titans as Mathieu fill-in

Cornerback Antoine Cason (20) is all smiles after returning an interception for a touchdown Sunday in the Cards' 37-34 win.

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The forgotten man made everyone remember him Sunday.

Antoine Cason, the former first-round pick of San Diego who signed a one-year contract with the Cardinals and rarely played on defense over the season’s first 13 games, was forced into added action Sunday following the season-ending knee injury to Tyrann Mathieu last week against the Rams. He made it worthwhile.

Cason was tested often by Titans quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick, and while he did give up some completions, he nabbed a pair of critical interceptions to help the Cardinals escape with a 37-34 overtime victory.

The first came with 6:13 remaining in the fourth quarter when he picked off Fitzpatrick and returned the interception 20 yards for a score. The touchdown made it 34-17 and looked like the Titan’s death knell, but Tennessee used an incredible late-game rally to force overtime.

The Titans got the ball first in the extra session and were driving down the field when Cason picked up his second interception and returned it to the Arizona 46-yard line, setting up Jay Feely’s game-winning field goal.

“They picked on the wrong guy once too many times,” coach Bruce Arians said. “Twice too many times.”

Cason said the defensive backs are a competitive group, but there is also plenty of mutual respect between them.

“We have a fallen soldier,” Cason said. “For me to come in and be in that role, they embraced me. I knew I had to play at a high level. Ty was playing very well this season. (The injury) was unfortunate, but we all rallied behind each other.”

Cason was a starter for much of his five-year stint in San Diego. Safety Rashad Johnson was impressed with the way Cason handled the situation.

“It just shows you what type of guy he is, the character he has as a person, to stay locked in all those weeks and then now get his opportunity to come in and make big plays for us,” Johnson said. “He helped us win this game. We’re lucky to have that type of depth on our team.”

Cason also added a fumble recovery on Feely’s second-half opening pooch onside kick via special teams, the unit in which he had received the majority of his playing time this year.

It was a mixed bag for the defensive backs without Mathieu for the first time. Johnson moved into the starting lineup and finished with seven tackles. The pass defense was an issue, however, as Fitzpatrick finished with 402 yards and four touchdowns through the air, although it did take him 58 attempts to get there.

Most of the damage was done in the final six minutes of the fourth quarter when the Titans staged their big rally.

“Overall, I thought we did play well,” cornerback Patrick Peterson said. “Just some communication problems in there. We’ve got a feel for one another now and it’s time to go play these last two games.”

Mathieu’s varied skill-set was noticeably absent in segments of the game, as he was relegated to tweeting commentary during the action. He will remain on the couch for at least the rest of this season, but the Cardinals can absorb the blow if Cason continues to play well down the stretch.

“Would we like to have Tyrann out there? Heck yeah,” Arians said. “But we don’t. So we don’t look back.”

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