Running back Chris Johnson rips off one of his big gains in the 42-17 win over the Lions.
DETROIT – The start of a 1-2 punch combination is supposed to be a jab, but Chris Johnson threw a haymaker. Once the Lions dragged themselves to their feet, Andre Ellington wasn't about to lay off.
The Cardinals' backfield duo was hyped considerably during the week and then followed through with impressive production in Sunday's 42-17 victory at Ford Field. Johnson was the primary back and carried the ball 11 times for 103 yards for a 9.4 yards per carry average.
He had a 25-yard run to get the offense going in the first quarter, then added a 40-yarder later in the game. He now has 79 carries for 405 yards on the season, averaging 5.13 yards per tote.
"I felt like I was running really well this game," Johnson said. "This was one of those games about making the most out of every opportunity."
Ellington wasn't as involved, but showed his big-play ability on a run in the fourth quarter. After carrying the ball twice for no yards earlier, Ellington took a handoff to his left and then exploded upfield, leaving defenders in his wake for a 63-yard touchdown.
"I was hurting sitting out those weeks when my boys were going out and winning and battling every day," Ellington said. "I'm just happy to be back out there."
Quarterback Carson Palmer loves having both running backs because they can each play specific roles in the offense depending on the situation. Ellington and Johnson showed on Sunday they also have one important thing in common: breakaway speed.
The Cardinals didn't have a run of more than 40 yards last season but both Ellington and Johnson did it in the win.
"It's a credit to the guys up front," Ellington said. "They make our job easy once they do all the hard work by blocking those guys. Once we can just run in the open field, it's easy."
INJURIES COULD BE SERIOUS FOR OKAFOR, CLEMONS, DEMENS
Arians said linebacker Alex Okafor (calf), safety Chris Clemons (hamstring) and linebacker Kenny Demens (knee) will all fly back for MRIs on injuries suffered in the game.
While Arians wasn't yet sure about the extent of them, he said I do not feel good" about the potential prognoses.
A significant injury to Okafor would be the biggest blow. He led the team in sacks last season and has two this year. If he is shelved, veteran LaMarr Woodley and second-round pick Markus Golden will likely see an increase in playing time.
Golden had a pair of quarterback hits in the game and has accumulated two half-sacks on the season.
"Hopefully Alex is OK because we need him," Golden said. "He's a great player. I don't want to play like that. I'd rather earn it than play because he got hurt. I hope Oak is all right because he deserves to be out there playing."
HIGH EFFICENCY ON OFFENSE
The Cardinals piled up yards last week against the Rams but struggled in the red zone and on their final drive. The offense barely saw the ball against Detroit but made the most of its opportunities.
The Cardinals finished with five touchdowns in five red zone opportunities, averaged 7.5 yards per carry and had 171 passing yards and three touchdowns without a turnover. The Cardinals ended up getting outgained by the Lions 436-345 but the total numbers were misleading.
"We only had 45 snaps so it was tough as far as statistics, but I'll take the scoring differential anytime," Arians said.
FEELING STAFFORD'S PAIN
Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford was pulled in the third quarter for backup Dan Orlovski, a move Arians said he was "very surprised" to see.
Palmer said he's been through seasons that started slowly before – the Lions dropped to 0-5 – but believes Stafford can get back on track after finishing 20-of-32 for 188 yards with a touchdown and three interceptions.
"There's nothing you can do but continue to work," Palmer said. "I don't know Matt well, but Drew (Stanton) knows him well, obviously, playing here, and Drew said he's an extremely hard worker, a guy that loves the game and is very dedicated to the game. Those things will get him through these tough times."