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Cardinals Defense Finds Some Success Against Jonathan Taylor

Keeps star running back out of end zone

Linebacker Markus Golden celebrates a stop during the Cardinals' loss to the Colts Saturday night.
Linebacker Markus Golden celebrates a stop during the Cardinals' loss to the Colts Saturday night.

Budda Baker wanted to clinch a playoff berth on Christmas for the fans.

That did not happen, but the defense gave the Cardinals a chance in the 22-16 loss, in their much-anticipated battle with Colts' running back and MVP candidate Jonathan Taylor.

Quarterback Carson Wentz handed the football to Taylor on the Colts' first play before the rusher cut right into an open lane, resulting in a 43-yard gain.

But afterward, the Cardinals held Taylor to just 14 rushing yards the rest of the half.

"That first run was definitely big, but you know, we got that corrected," Baker said. "Guys made plays. But that running back is really good, and he showed a lot of his talents today."

Taylor managed to pick up his ninth 100-yard performance this season, most in the NFL. But the Cardinals kept the NFL's leader in rushing touchdowns out of the end zone Saturday. It's the first time that has happened since Week 3 against Tennessee.

The Cardinals also held Taylor to 4.0 yards per carry, his lowest average since Week 5 against Baltimore. Coach Kliff Kingsbury was proud of how the run defense performed against Taylor on Saturday.

The Colts, however, remained undefeated when Taylor reaches the 100-yard mark (9-0).

"I think our guys played hard on that side of the ball," Kingsbury said. "The goal was to try and slow him down, and I think we did enough. We just gave up some big plays in other areas, and we have to eliminate that."

Such plays and self-inflicted wounds – penalties and missed field goals – factored the game's outcome, and the defense had its share of mistakes -- one in particular Baker noted, an ill-advised roughing the passer flag on Chandler Jones.

The defense also another injured member in cornerback Marco Wilson. Wilson left the game with a left shoulder injury. Kingsbury said he will know more about the injury's severity later, while Baker said the situation calls for the next-man-up mentality.

"We always preach the standard no matter what," Baker said. "if you're a starter, second or third string, when you're on the field – the standard is the standard. That's what it is. So, more guys will get more reps this week and we'll see how everything goes."