Cardinals safety Tyrann Mathieu makes a tackle on wide receiver Jordan Matthews Sunday night during a 40-17 win. Mathieu left the game late after suffering an injury.
PHILADELPHIA – Cornerback Patrick Peterson thought the interception by safety Tyrann Mathieu in Sunday night's fourth quarter was an exclamation point on the Cardinals' 40-17 victory over the Eagles.
Instead it's become a large question mark.
Mathieu, arguably the team's best defender this season, went to the ground awkwardly after picking off Sam Bradford with 2:37 remaining and was taken to the locker room to have his knee examined. Coach Bruce Arians said he had "no
idea" on the severity of the injury. Peterson, who played at LSU with Mathieu and is a close friend, is hoping for the best.
"I haven't talked to him yet," Peterson said after the game. "I spoke with him on the field before he ran out (to the locker room). I was busy celebrating and then I looked back and saw him on the ground, and I was like, 'What the hell is going on?' So I ran up to him. But for the most part we'll see what the doctors say here in a couple days. But he's looking good; he's walking around good. We'll just have to wait and see what the diagnosis is."
Mathieu tied safety Rashad Johnson for the team lead with his fifth pick, and added five tackles. He has been in the Defensive Player of the Year conversation of late and any absence would be a critical blow to the defense.
"This is such a bittersweet win," quarterback Carson Palmer said when asked about Mathieu's injury. "There's nothing we can do but pray. We're all praying for him. I feel like I've been praying for the last 20, 30, 45 minutes. God's powerful. We'll see what happens."
Palmer was also injured in the game when his finger slammed into an Eagles defender and it caused him to leave for one play, but he returned the next series. Palmer downplayed the injury postgame.
"I just hit my hand on an arm or something," Palmer said. "But it's fine."
Running back David Johnson, who finished with 29 carries for 187 yards and three touchdowns, left late in the second quarter with a knee injury but returned to start the second half.
BUC IS WORTH SIX POINTS
Deone Bucannon plays linebacker exclusively now but looked like the safety he was drafted as on the first play of the
fourth quarter. He caught an errant Bradford throw and returned it 39 yards for a touchdown to give the Cardinals a 37-10 lead.
It was his first career NFL interception. The touchdown was something even more rare for a player who has been playing football for a long time.
"That's the first pick-six I've ever had," Bucannon said. "Honestly, it's a great feeling."
Bucannon, who also finished with a team-high 11 tackles, said pressure from linebacker Kevin Minter helped force Bradford into a hurried throw.
"I was just in the right place at the right time," Bucannon said.
CONFUSION LEADS TO PHILADELPHIA'S FIRST TOUCHDOWN
The defense handled the Eagles' up-tempo attack pretty well for most of the game, except for one notable exception. Philadelphia had a first-and-10 at the Arizona 22, but personnel confusion led to defensive tackle Rodney Gunter running off right before the Eagles snapped the ball.
The Cardinals were short a defender and Bradford found tight end Zach Ertz for a 22-yard score. Defensive tackle Calais Campbell signaled for a timeout before the snap but the officials didn't see him.
"I just knew we were confused," Campbell said. "We were on two different pages. Everybody was trying to figure out what was going on. That's what they try to do. They try to confuse you, and it worked to perfection. You never want to call timeout. As a defense, you save those for the offense. But in certain situations you have to. That's a part of being a captain – knowing when you have to call timeout. I wish we would have gotten it because it would have kept some points off the board."
DROPS DON'T KEEP JOHN BROWN DOWN
Wide receiver John Brown had a chance at a 78-yard touchdown on the game's opening play from scrimmage but dropped a beautifully thrown ball from Palmer. He dropped a second potential touchdown and even a third ball in the first half, an uncharacteristic showing from the normally sure-handed receiver.
The rapport between quarterback and receiver is strong enough that Palmer never second-guessed continuing to look for Brown. The second half was much better, as Brown caught three passes for 38 yards, including a 16-yard touchdown.
"The only thing that was on my mind was to get back out there, start fresh and help my brothers," Brown said. "Those guys, they helped me out big time because I left a lot of plays out there. They were telling me, 'That's all right. Just keep playing.'"
Said Palmer, "I told him, I'm going to keep going to you. You're eventually going to make the plays we expect you to make and he did."
SWEARINGER FILLS IN NICELY
Safety D.J. Swearinger played the deep center field role in place of the injured Rashad Johnson when the Cardinals went with five defensive backs. He finished with three tackles, a pass defended and a fumble recovery.
Swearinger was a 2013 second-round pick of the Texas who has already been released by two teams. He was signed to the practice squad on Dec. 1 and elevated to the active roster Dec. 8.
"D.J. played, from what I saw on the field, physical and fast," Arians said. "And that's what we like about him."