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Cardinals Can Learn From "Almost Losing"

Arians gets team ready for final game before the bye


Cardinals coach Bruce Arians discusses life on "Monday Night Football" with an official during his team's win over the Ravens.

Bruce Arians came out Tuesday, the day after his team held on to beat the Ravens on "Monday Night Football," and went through a list of things the Cardinals should've done better late in the game.

The missed extra point. Andre Ellington failing to stay inbounds. "Overcoaching" Carson Palmer on the second-down pass/intentional grounding. Failing to stick on the tight end on a Ravens' fourth down pass. A blown coverage on a Ravens' bomb.

All things to fix, but then came the punchline.

"You learn everything that you learn losing by almost losing," Arians said, "and it feels a hell of a lot better."

The Cardinals did not lose. They are, despite the roller-coaster moments late on the ESPN telecast, sitting atop the NFC West. They have a short week before playing in Cleveland Sunday, but then comes the bye week and a chance to regroup.

Health has been on the Cardinals' side. Starting cornerback Jerraud Powers is expected to miss the game in Cleveland with a hamstring injury, but he will hopefully be back for the trip to Seattle coming up after the bye. In the meantime, Justin Bethel will slide into the starting lineup and the Cardinals will try to fix what went wrong against Baltimore.

"We understand what we need to do to clean up our game," cornerback Patrick Peterson said.

Special teams hurt the Cardinals late. The punt unit failed in its quest to protect Drew Butler on the punt block, something that shouldn't have happened because Sean Weatherspoon had false-started on what was to be the initial punt and the Ravens didn't change their alignment.

"We call that a Kodak," Arians said. "They didn't change it so we should have been more prepared for it."

But Arians said he didn't have concerns about special teams, that he has faith in kicker Chandler Catanzaro (who missed a 55-yard field goal and an extra point).

That's important, because while the Cardinals reveled in finally winning a close game – one that wouldn't have been as heart-stopping had the extra point been good – special teams play and all the little details can change an outcome.

"We've had so many blowouts in so many games," quarterback Carson Palmer said. "Like the Detroit game where the starters are out for the last quarter of the game. To be in there and to kind of be nervous, and to have those jitterbugs on the sidelines as your waiting, it's good to have that feeling and come out with a win."


The Ravens said their headsets were not working late in the game, but Arians said the Cardinals' headsets were fine and that the officials never came to their sideline to tell them to shut them off, which would have been necessary had the Ravens complained.

Arians said headset trouble isn't unique. "One time in Baltimore, I had a hot dog vendor (talking on the headset) on a critical fourth-and-1," Arians said. "The hot dog vendor came on and started talking about how they needed hot dogs in some section and we couldn't get the play call. A coincidence." …

Linebacker Alex Okafor (calf) will be "real close" this week in terms of returning to play. With the bye upcoming, Okafor's return may wait. 

The top images from the Cardinals' Week 7 victory over Baltimore

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