The Cardinals were low on splash plays once again in Sunday’s 34-0 loss to the Rams. One of the few bright spots came in the third quarter, when cornerback Patrick Peterson intercepted a pass by Rams quarterback Jared Goff near the goal line. Peterson, Goff, Cardinals coach Steve Wilks and safety Budda Baker dissected the play in this week’s Cardinals Film Room.
The situation: The Rams had a third-and-9 at the Arizona 21 with 11:16 remaining in the third quarter, leading 19-0.
The Cardinals threaten with eight defenders at the line of scrimmage. Wilks: "I think everything really starts with the disguise. As we always talk about right here, trying to give them the illusion of who's coming."
Baker knows the blitz has to get home: “They’re not going to be able to block it. For us, we’re just trying to get the ball out as quick as possible because we know the back end is on the burner.”
Peterson expects a short pass: “Whenever you send a pressure off the edge, you have to expect the ball to come out quick.”
Baker is unblocked, and with the Cardinals in need of a spark, takes aim at a strip-sack: “Even from the beginning I knew I was going to be coming free. I was just thinking about attacking his upfield shoulder, but I saw the ball out. Mostly, I’m not worried about the tackle. I think we were losing by over two touchdowns, and I think it was third-and-8. They would have went for it on fourth or kicked a field goal, so I was like, ‘Alright, I’m going to go after him and try to get the ball out.’”
Goff steps up in the pocket and eludes Baker’s sack attempt. Baker: “As a blitzer you’re taught to keep him in the box. You don’t want to go inside and then he can roll out. I tried to keep him in that tackles box, but he got out of my tackle and rolled out to the right.”
Peterson watches from the secondary: “Budda missed the layup.”
Even though Goff escapes, Baker’s sack attempt messed up the play’s rhythm: “The worst thing is to (dial up) a pressure and nobody gets home, and the quarterback has time to throw the ball. That’s the time where you’re really leaving the DBs out (to dry). At least make him re-route his reads.”
While scramble drills can be tough on defensive backs, Wilks is pleased with Peterson's positioning: "Patrick does a great job of being disciplined and staying in coverage right here, not being nosy and looking back at the quarterback. (Goff) tries to force an ill-advised throw, which I'm glad he did."
Rams receiver Brandin Cooks darts upfield, and Peterson sticks with him. Peterson whips his head around as the ball is thrown: “It’s kind of an instinct. I saw (Goff scramble) out of the corner of my eye, and when I saw Cooks break out and give this little burst, I kind of figured the ball was coming. That’s what made me get my head around.”
Goff had a great day overall but regrets this decision: “I was mad at myself about that one. That was probably the only one of the day I was really not happy with myself.”
Goff doesn’t put enough air on the pass: “Thought I could kind of get one by him there. He made a great play, as he does often.”
Peterson gets both feet in-bounds after the catch: “I kind of have those offensive instincts, as far as field awareness, knowing what I have to do to make the play count. All that stuff, it goes back to when I played in high school, playing pretty much every position.”
Baker has appreciated Peterson’s excellence for years: “I’ve been watching Pat since college. I already knew coming in, getting drafted, that he was one of the best DBs in the league. Having him on my team is great.”
Peterson is surprised the throw came his way: “I knew the sideline was going to be my friend, and I kind of shielded him off to where he really didn’t get a good look at Cooks to see where he was. Honestly, I was expecting him to throw this ball away.”
Some of the top images from the Cardinals' loss in Los Angeles