The Cardinals' defense had its issues for much of the season, before finding a groove down the stretch. Despite the inconsistency, there were big plays scattered throughout the year. Here is our choice for the top five defensive plays of the year:
5. Jordan Hicks (Finally) Nabs The Cardinals' First Interception
The situation: The Giants had a third-and-13 from their 35 with 5:49 left in the first quarter, trailing 7-0.
The play: The Cardinals went the first six weeks of the season without a pick, but Hicks changed that early against New York. Giants quarterback Daniel Jones had a clean pocket but forced a throw into double coverage and Hicks swooped in for the interception.
The aftermath: Hicks kicked off one of the Cardinals' most impressive defensive performances of the season with his first of a team-high three interceptions on the year.
4. Patrick Peterson Blitzes From The Corner
The situation: The Giants had a fourth-and-15 from their 33-yard line with 2:35 remaining in the fourth quarter, trailing 24-21.
The play: Cornerback Patrick Peterson is almost always in coverage, but defensive coordinator Vance Joseph sent him on a blind-side blitz. Daniel Jones never saw him, and Peterson laid a crushing blow which knocked the ball loose. Linebacker Haason Reddick recovered to give the Cardinals great field position.
The aftermath: The Cardinals kicked a field goal on their ensuing possession and then came up with another stop to ice the win. It capped a three-game winning streak to get the Cardinals to .500 on the season.
3. Jordan Hicks' Helmet-Flying Hit On Jaylen Samuels
The situation: The Steelers had a third-and-3 at the Cardinals' 12 with 5:13 remaining in the first quarter of a scoreless game.
The play: Hicks has a well-rounded game, capable of nabbing interceptions in coverage while also bringing an element of physicality. Pittsburgh wide receiver Jaylen Samuels learned of the latter, as a crushing hit from Hicks sent Samuels' helmet flying off his head and stopped him for no gain.
The aftermath: The Steelers were forced to settle for a field goal on the possession.
2. Patrick Peterson Picks On Baker Mayfield
The situation: The Browns had a first-and-10 from the Arizona 20 with 4:18 left in the first quarter, trailing 7-0.
The play: Peterson matched up with Odell Beckham, Jr. on the play. As quarterback Baker Mayfield began his motion, Peterson started to close in on Beckham, but then realized the throw was too high. The star cornerback adjusted and made a terrific catch before kneeling in the end zone for a touchback.
The aftermath: Peterson did not play up to par for most of the year, but turned it around late, beginning with the win over the Browns. The interception kickstarted a performance in which he also accumulated seven tackles and three passes defensed.
1. Chandler Jones Sacks Daniel Jones, Takes Parting Gift
The situation: The Giants had a second-and-8 from the Arizona 37 with 7:33 remaining in the third quarter, trailing 17-14.
The play: Chandler Jones was matched up on tight end Evan Engram at the line of scrimmage, and it was no contest. He threw Engram to the ground and beelined toward Daniel Jones. Chandler won the battle of the Joneses, as he brought down Daniel, scraped the ball from his hand and secured it for the strip-sack and fumble recovery.
The aftermath: This was the highlight of a dominant day, as Jones had four sacks, the forced fumble, and fumble recovery. It foreshadowed a terrific season, as Jones made the All-Pro team by finishing with 19 sacks and eight forced fumbles.