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Cardinals Make It Tough For Passers

Notes: Haven't allowed a 300-yard opponent; Peterson goes home; Mathieu out for Sunday


Cardinals cornerback Patrick Peterson sealed the Washington win with an interception, and the Cards have more picks (12) than TD passes allowed (10).

There have been moments when the big passing plays against the Cardinals have resonated – the Chris Hogan score past Brandon Williams in the season-opening loss to the Patriots; the two Taylor Gabriel wide receiver screens for scores in Atlanta – but the statistics show the Cards have actually done a nice job against the pass this season.

The Cardinals have yet to allow a 300-yard passer, and are tied for first in the NFL by allowing only 10 touchdown passes. Both are striking in a league which has rules that benefit the passing game.

"I hadn't even noticed that," cornerback Patrick Peterson said. "It shows the guys we have in the secondary and the faith

the D-coordinator has in the secondary to continue to dial up pressure and leave us out on an island. We have been playing some good football. Like I said, I hadn't even noticed we hadn't allowed 300 yards in a game. That's awesome."

The pass rush has made a difference. While there have been times when defensive coordinator James Bettcher has gotten more aggressive in his blitz calls – the final drive for Washington last week, most notably – the ability for the Cardinals to get pressure with a four-man rush this season has been an important advancement in the team's overall pass defense.

Pro Football Focus has the Cardinals currently ranked as the fourth-most effective team when employing a four-men-or-fewer pass rush. The Cards also are third in the league in passer-rating against (behind Denver and Minnesota) and have more interceptions (11) than TD passes allowed.

The Dolphins are only 28th in the league in passing yards (216 a game) and have thrown only 16 touchdown passes this season with quarterback Ryan Tannehill. Coach Adam Gase's philosophy tends to skew toward shorter passes, so the Cards don't figure to give up a lot of yards this Sunday either.

"Overall, we've done a good job, but we haven't been where we want to be," Bettcher said. "I can say that because the guys in the back end – Patrick, D.J., Tony (Jefferson), all the guys collectively, want to be the best secondary in the National Football League.

"Overall the performance has been pretty good. But we know as we have found out this season, games are defined by plays, but two or three plays. You can't have them back when you make a mistake."


Peterson hasn't had a chance to play near home since he came into the league, and as a Dolphins' fan when he was younger, the cornerback is looking forward to Sunday.

"I truly was a die-hard Dolphin fan," said Peterson, who grew up less than a half-hour away from Hard Rock Stadium in Pompano Beach. "Sometimes it creeps out and I find myself looking at them once in a while. One of my childhood friends, he's a die-hard Dolphin fan too, and I've been teasing him all week (about) who he was going to be rooting for. Luckily, he said me or he wouldn't be coming to the game."

Peterson said one of his fondest memories was attending a Monday night game between the Dolphins and the Patriots, when the Dolphins wore their all-orange uniforms and upset New England, 29-28, in 2004 – when Peterson was 14 years old.

"It'll be different being in the visitor locker room, going up against a team that you were a fan of and grew up watching," Peterson said. "You definitely want to make some plays."


Safety Tyrann Mathieu didn't practice for a third straight day Friday, and Arians not surprisingly ruled him out for Sunday's game.

"He is still contemplating surgery, but I don't think that is going to be necessary," Arians said.

Arians said his range of motion and strength is getting better. "We want to be careful that he doesn't reinjure it and need surgery," Arians added,

All other players are "ready to roll," Arians said. Officially, linebacker Markus Golden (ankle), defensive tackle Robert Nkemdiche (elbow), cornerback Tharold Simon (ankle) and wide receiver John Brown (sickle cell) are questionable.

For the Dolphins, center Mike Pouncey (hip) is out. Linebacker Kiko Alonso (hand/hamstring), linebacker Jelani Jenkins (knee/hand) and defensive end Mario Williams (ankle) are doubtful.

A bunch of Dolphins are questionable: safety Isa Abdul-Quddus (neck), tackle Branden Albert (wrist), running back Kenyan Drake (knee), cornerback Xavien Howard (knee), quarterback Matt Moore (shoulder), defensive tackle Earl Mitchell (back), wide receiver DeVante Parker (back), center Kraig Urbik (knee), linebacker Spencer Paysiger (ankle) and guard Anthony Steen (shoulder/foot).

Images of key players for this week's opponent, the Miami Dolphins


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