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Cardinals Defense Rated Top-10 In NFL After Dominant Performance

Numbers of note following the 26-7 win over the Giants

OLB Markus Golden (44) and OLB Haason Reddick wreaked havoc on the Giants all day.
OLB Markus Golden (44) and OLB Haason Reddick wreaked havoc on the Giants all day.

The Cardinals' defense has been a pleasant surprise all season, and after a dominant outing on Sunday against the Giants, it can make the claim of being a top-10 unit.

The defense is up to No. 9 in Football Outsiders’ defensive efficiency ratings after holding the Giants to 159 total yards and registering a pair of takeaways in the 26-7 win.

The Cardinals had eight sacks and forced four fumbles on defense, two of which they recovered. They moved up three spots in defensive DVOA, sandwiched between the Ravens at No. 8 and the 49ers at No. 10.

The Cardinals are No. 9 in pass defense after holding a second opponent in three weeks to under 100 yards in net passing. It's a big jump from a year ago, when the team was among the worst in the NFL in net yards per pass attempt allowed.

Defensive coordinator Vance Joseph's group has been doing this despite the absence of some key players.

Starting cornerback Robert Alford was lost for the season in training camp, All-Pro edge rusher Chandler Jones in Week 5 and defensive tackle Corey Peters in Week 10. Furthermore, big-ticket free agent acquisition Jordan Phillips has been sidelined for the majority of the year, as has promising young safety Jalen Thompson.

The Cardinals are currently No. 14 in Football Outsiders' offensive efficiency, No. 22 in special teams efficiency and No. 12 overall.

Other numbers of note after the Week 14 win over New York:

  • Kyler Murray's rushing average took a hit when he kneeled three times to close out the game against the Giants. He had been leading the NFL in yards-per-carry for several weeks, but Lamar Jackson overtook him after a nine-carry, 124-yard performance on Monday night against Cleveland. Jackson is averaging 6.3 yards per carry and Murray is at 6.2 with three games left. The Cardinals have had four players lead the NFL in yards per carry in their history: Charley Trippi in 1948, John David Crow in 1960, Stump Mitchell in 1985 and Andre Ellington in 2013.
  • The Cardinals' offensive line is No. 3 in both run-block and pass-block win rate after an impressive performance against the Giants. The Packers are the only other team in the top three in both facets.