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Cardinals' Secondary Shines Against Patriots

Cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick highlights performance against Cam Newton

CB Dre Kirkpatrick intercepts a fourth quarter pass against the Patriots.
CB Dre Kirkpatrick intercepts a fourth quarter pass against the Patriots.

Cam Newton had putrid passing numbers on Sunday, so it's not a surprise to see that the Cardinals had a bevy of defensive backs with solid Pro Football Focus grades in Week 12.

Dre Kirkpatrick was among the standouts, finishing with a 78.9 defensive grade, including an 80.8 mark in coverage. Kirkpatrick had a crucial interception late in the fourth quarter that seemed like it might clinch a win, but that didn’t happen.

Kirkpatrick's had an up-and-down season. He had below-average grades in each of his first five games, but has registered a mark of 76.1 or higher in three of the past five. Kirkpatrick is tied for the team lead in interceptions with three, all of which have come since Week 6.

Veteran cornerback Johnathan Joseph earned the top Pro Football Focus grade on the team at 90.1, albeit in only 10 snaps. It will be interesting to see if his playing time increases down the stretch.

Safety Chris Banjo, who filled in for the injured Jalen Thompson, was given an 85.7 grade and slot cornerback Byron Murphy earned a 78.3 grade. Newton finished with a Total QBR of 6.6, which was the worst quarterback performance of the week, pending Monday Night Football.

Other Pro Football Focus observations from Week 12:

  • Left tackle D.J. Humphries continued his impressive season with an 89.5 overall grade, which was one of the best marks leaguewide. He didn't allow a sack and received high marks for run-blocking.
  • Despite pedestrian statistics, quarterback Kyler Murray was given a 78.4 grade, which was the second-best on offense. PFF thought Murray did a nice job throwing the ball even thought he was limited on the ground.
  • Wide receiver Christian Kirk had the lowest grade on offense at 50.0. He finished with three catches for 19 yards on six targets, including a crucial end zone drop on the final possession of the first half.
  • Linebacker Isaiah Simmons didn't grade too poorly in run defense, pass-rushing and coverage, but his two penalties for 30 yards resulted in a team-worst 29.7 overall mark. Simmons played 16 snaps, as he is clearly still behind veteran De'Vondre Campbell on the inside linebacker depth chart. Campbell was given a 72.5 overall grade in 51 snaps.

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