The Cardinals' defense looked completely different on Sunday against the Giants.
It had eight sacks, three takeaways and allowed only 14 points, by far the best performance of 2019.
Outside linebacker Chandler Jones dominated, but despite his mammoth day, the credit kept trickling back to someone else: cornerback Patrick Peterson.
"The 'P2 effect' is a thing," Jones said. "He goes out there and allows our pass-rushers to get to the quarterback. The quarterback is holding the ball trying to get to an open receiver. It's tremendous what having Patrick Peterson on the field with us does."
Peterson missed the first six games of the season due to suspension, and in that span, the pass defense gave up 8.5 yards per pass attempt, 16 touchdowns without an interception, and a quarterback rating of 121.8.
With Peterson back in the fold on Sunday, they held Giants quarterback Daniel Jones to 6.4 yards per attempt with one touchdown, an interception and a passer rating of 78.6.
Daniel Jones is a rookie and the conditions were bad, so it's fair to ask if that was simply an outlier. The Cardinals will know more after a tough Week 8 matchup against the Saints, who could have Drew Brees back on the field.
Peterson is likely to line up often against Saints star receiver Michael Thomas, who leads the NFL with 62 catches for 763 yards and has three touchdowns. Thomas' social media handle is 'Can't Guard Mike' and Peterson is hoping to be the first to prove it wrong.
"It should be a fun matchup," said Peterson, who doesn't expect to shadow Thomas everywhere. "I've definitely got my hands full. Michael is by far the leading targeted receiver on their team, by almost 27 targets. I know I'm going to get a heavy dose of him."
The Cardinals had trouble in nearly every phase last season, except for pass defense, where it finished fourth in the NFL behind Peterson's strong play. Considering the vast difference between the first six games of 2019 and the seventh, maybe Peterson is that much of a difference-maker.
Coach Kliff Kingsbury pointed to his presence when asked about the reason for the stark improvement in New York.
"There was a No. 21 on that field that is pretty good," Kingsbury said.
CHRISTIAN KIRK WALKING FINE LINE IN RETURN FROM INJURY
Wide receiver Christian Kirk (ankle) was limited in practice on Thursday, a designation he's held regularly the past couple weeks, but one that has yet to get him back on the field.
"It kills me not being out there," Kirk said.
Kirk has missed the past three contests and his return would be a big boost against the high-powered Saints. The Cardinals' ultra-competitive pass-catcher is making steady progress but also knows the threat of aggravation is real.
"Each week, by the end of that week, it feels like I've taken that next step," Kirk said. "This (injury) can kind of linger, and that's the thing. You've got to be smart with it and not rush it back, because a setback is the last thing you want. But, also pushing it and realizing when you can (play), then it's, 'OK, go.'"
DAVID JOHNSON MISSES PRACTICE FOR SECOND STRAIGHT DAY
Running back David Johnson missed his second consecutive day of practice with his ankle injury, casting doubt on his availability for the game. He played three early snaps against the Giants but didn't feel right and didn't return.
Inside linebacker Jordan Hicks, the team's leading tackler, missed his second straight day of practice with a calf injury. The others who sat on Thursday were running back D.J. Foster (hamstring) and defensive end Zach Allen (neck).
Those limited were linebacker Dennis Gardeck (ankle), linebacker Haason Reddick (knee), and linebacker Ezekiel Turner (hamstring).
Brees (thumb) practiced in a limited capacity for the Saints, and running back Alvin Kamara (knee/ankle) was also limited after missing practice on Wednesday. Tight end Jared Cook (ankle), safety J.T. Gray (ankle), cornerback Patrick Robinson (hamstring) and wide receiver Tre'Quan Smith (ankle) did not practice.
Images from practice at the Dignity Health Arizona Cardinals Training Center