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Baby On The Way, Budda Baker Picks A Special Way To Reach Chicago

Safety has one of four Cardinals interceptions in win over Bears

Cardinals safety and father-to-be Budda Baker is en route on his 77-yard interception return Sunday in Chicago.
Cardinals safety and father-to-be Budda Baker is en route on his 77-yard interception return Sunday in Chicago.

Budda Baker celebrated his interception Sunday by pantomiming the rocking of a baby.

At any moment, he'll be able to do it for real.

Baker went to the game in Chicago knowing his girlfriend could give birth to his daughter at any time. There was a chance he might not even make the game against the Bears. Cardinals owner Michael Bidwill flew Baker out on a private plane Saturday, so that Baker could make sure he had WiFi access (the team charter does not) and know if she went into labor. If she had, Baker said, they would've turned around.

Instead, Baker made it to the game. He made a key interception early to set up a touchdown in the 33-22 win over the Bears. And then after a brief meeting with the media, he ran off the podium to get cleaned up.

"Yeah, right after this, I'm showering and heading back," Baker said. "I'm gone."

The Cardinals needed Baker, who was among those who took part in the interception-fest of Bears QB Andy Dalton.

With the Cards holding a 7-0 lead and the Bears driving, a pass to tight end Cole Kmet bounced off Kmet's hands and into Baker, who returned it 77 yards to the Chicago 15.

Baker, who was infamously chased down by Seattle wide receiver DK Metcalf on a similar coast-to-coast interception return last season, admitted afterward he thought he would reach the end zone after the pick.

"I just saw Andy Dalton in front of me," Baker said. "I should've stayed on the sideline, got a little too cute and jumped over him, and then got tackled from behind. But I heard a lot of my teammates telling me to slow down. I just didn't know who was behind me and didn't want to get caught again and hear it for the rest of the year."

The Metcalf return was 90 yards. Baker is the second Cardinal ever with two career interceptions of at least 75 yards behind only Hall of Famer Larry Wilson. Wilson had returns of 91 and 96 yards.

Dalton finished the game with an 11.6 quarterback rating. It marks the fifth time in his career Dalton has thrown four interceptions in a game.

Safety Jalen Thompson grabbed the first one earlier in the game, the third in his career, and second in the past three games. Cornerback Byron Murphy Jr. responded with a clutch interception in the fourth quarter, his fourth in the past nine games, after Chicago's offense was awarded a fresh set of downs following linebacker Dennis Gardeck's roughing the kicker penalty.

The final exclamation point occurred midway in the fourth quarter. Dalton pump-faked left and lobbed a screen pass for running back David Montgomery before defensive end Zach Allen snatched it for his first NFL career interception.

The four turnovers placed the Cardinals' offense in excellent field position, which they took advantage of throughout the game. The defense showed up on a Sunday where weather conditions were not ideal and factored into their offense not playing as fluid as coach Kliff Kingsbury would have liked.

"We knew it would be grimy, windy, wet, cold," Kingsbury said. "But I thought our defense played tremendous in creating those takeaways and giving us short fields on offense – and we were able to capitalize a few times."

With another 10-point road victory, the Cardinals became the third time in NFL history to earn seven straight road victories by double-digit margins in a season.

Linebacker Jordan Hicks said the Cardinals defense still has areas to improve upon but is proud of where the team stands after Week 13.

"It's not about playing really good football up until this point," Hicks said. "It's about continuing to get better and making sure we're playing our best football at the end of the season."