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Cardinals' Offense Falls Flat When Needed

Struggles continue in blowout loss to the Eagles


Cardinals quarterback Carson Palmer, shown here getting sacked, was under pressure much of the afternoon again.

PHILADELPHIA – The Cardinals' offense was given several attempts to win last Sunday's game against the 49ers, finally coming through late in overtime.

The degree of difficulty was much higher on Sunday, and the group didn't step up. The Cardinals fell behind 21-0 after one quarter, and the offense couldn't answer the challenge, scoring a lone touchdown in the 34-7 loss.

The usual culprits were to blame, as protection for quarterback Carson Palmer was poor and the running game was virtually non-existent.

"We couldn't do anything on offense," Palmer said. "We got way too far behind against a good defense to mount a comeback."

Palmer finished the game 28-of-44 for 291 yards with a touchdown, but the raw numbers don't illustrate some of the struggles. He took several chances with deep balls in order to try for big chunks, and at least three could have been intercepted.

Wide receiver John Brown was forced to play defense twice, and wide receiver J.J. Nelson did the same to make sure the ball hit the ground.

"A couple times just tried to throw some jump-balls, some "50-50" balls, and give us a shot," Palmer said. "There was stuff they did some good job covering. When you're down multiple scores, you don't want to just throw the ball away."

Arians said pressure on Palmer wouldn't allow him to set his feet, and the passes fell short.

"You can't step to throw very long when you're going sideways, especially," Arians said. "He just couldn't get enough on it to get it out there."

The Cardinals finished with 31 rushing yards on 14 carries, an average of 2.2 yards per tote. It continued their season-long struggles in that area without star running back David Johnson. Chris Johnson had nine carries for 21 yards, while Kerwynn Williams and Andre Ellington combined for negative yardage in four attempts.

"In the running game, nothing's working," Chris Johnson said.

The lack of a running game also affected the ability to throw the ball because the linebackers didn't have to respect the ground attack on play-action.

"A lot of what we do is built around play-action," Palmer said. "We need to get it going."

Arians pinned most of the running game struggles on the offensive line. The group has endured multiple injuries to starters, and Arians hopes the return of D.J. Humphries and Alex Boone on the left side will help fortify the group. On Sunday, the performance wasn't good enough.

"We tried to run against four and we didn't do it very well," Arians said. "We could not handle the four, but when they did blitz, we really didn't handle it well."

The Cardinals are now averaging 16.2 points per game as the offense searches for ways to improve.

"When stuff like this happens, this sucks," guard Evan Boehm said. "The thing we've got to do is stay together. Nobody point fingers, stay together and keep working. Keep our heads down, don't listen to the outside talk, and just roll."

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