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Depth Of Field: Week 3 vs. Dallas
Exploring the 2023 game against the Cowboys through the lens of the Cardinals team photographer
By Caitlyn Epes Sep 26, 2023
Photographs By Caitlyn Epes

A Win to Remember

The Arizona Cardinals' Week 3 game against the Dallas Cowboys was an all-around great time at State Farm Stadium. There were huge plays on all three sides of the ball and the atmosphere was something I had never experienced before. Let's take a look at what it was like from the sidelines:


We had a special guest this week in hall-of-fame baseball player Ken Griffey Jr. His son, Trey, is on staff here at the Cardinals as our manager of youth football, and Ken picks up the camera from time to time to hit up different sporting events around the country. (His dream shoot? Wimbledon).


It was fun talking shop with Ken on the sidelines, and former MLB draft pick Kyler Murray also made a point to introduce himself and welcome Ken to our stadium.


Pregame started off just like any normal home game, with certain players showing off for the camera to get hype for the big day. Marquise Brown even put in his silver grills for the occasion.


I made my way to midfield during warmups and caught Jonathan Gannon talking with Cowboys coach Mike McCarthy. This is a good moment to capture in case I miss their handshake at the end of the game (spoiler alert: I did).


I waited by the offensive and defensive linemen for them to huddle up before joining the rest of the team, and when I heard D.J. Humphries start yelling, I rushed in.

He was a tad early though, and he almost got us both run over by his teammates getting ready to finish their drill. This is the photo I got on my way in where you can see Keith Ismael getting into position:


It ended up fine, though, and I got some cool shots of the huddle anyway:


I'm not sure if this is going to continue happening every game, but Humphries has been leading the entire team huddle each time. He definitely gives one heck of a speech. Everyone around him gets so hyped up by his passion, myself included.


There are new additions to the team locker room tunnel this season. On the way in, you see a smoky background with a nondescript Cardinals player, and on the way out, you have "Protect the Nest" in big, bold letters:


I have been kind of obsessed with nailing the perfect "hand taping" photo recently, so I continued the series this week. I'm not sure which one I prefer, the wider shot that shows off the player, or the really close-up one of just hands:


Each player has their own pregame ritual in the locker room. Some sit quietly with their headphones on, some break out into dance moves, some stretch on the side.

This week, Dennis Gardeck ate a banana:


Someone should give that man a banana every game if the result is as good as Sunday's.

Another upgrade that I noticed was more smoke during the team introductions. As a photographer, I am all for it.


The literal last photo I took before kickoff was this one of Leki Fotu kneeling in prayer after the anthem finished. I was racing back towards the stands to grab my 400mm lens, and I stopped in my tracks to capture his moment of solitude:


Protect the Nest

I'd like to start the game action segment of this essay with some epic moments of the Cardinals defense doing what they do best.


I was definitely smiling through the camera many times this week.

The Tale of Three TD's

James Conner was a beast on Sunday. While going through my photos of his rushing touchdown, I caught this frame of him looking back at the defender like "Yeah, that just happened":


You might notice that I was on the wrong side of the end zone for all three of the Cardinals' touchdowns, and since this essay is all about transparency, I'll show you why I led with that photo instead of the out of focus one I got of him running in:


A pro of being on the Cardinals' sideline is when they do score opposite me, they always run back towards me, which leads to photos like this:


Rondale Moore's touchdown run was really clean in camera since he was isolated for most of it.


But then he ran away from me and into the end zone. Highs and lows, I guess.


Finally, Marquise Brown's touchdown catch happened so quickly I didn't see where the ball went, and all I caught was him landing on the ground.


But that's okay because the celebration afterwards was really fun to shoot, especially turning around and seeing Kyler Murray smiling as big as I've ever seen:


I love photos that you can almost hear because of the visual emotion in them.

Fun Times All Around

Some Cardinals fans might have noticed this, but on every kick return that results in a touchback, Zach Pascal continues his run through the end zone jumping and screaming to hype up the nearby crowd:


He does it almost every time, and somehow it still catches me off guard.


Rookie Michael Wilson also had a huge day, and while this catch was called back due to penalty, I love that I captured this photo of him high up in the air with Mike McCarthy and the Cowboys bench looking on:


I was blocked on the Kyzir White game-sealing interception, but was able to get a couple shots of the celebration. This was a huge moment in the game, and while I'm upset that I missed it, I'm glad I can still tell the story somehow:


The last few offensive plays were nothing to ignore, starting with Joshua Dobbs pulling off the first down and dropping the "mic" to rub it in:


And ending with James Conner getting tackled completely by his face mask and letting everyone know it happened:


Postgame was a mad house. There was a lot going on but it ended fairly quickly.

As we all know by now, I am an Oklahoma Sooner, so of course I wanted the classic #OUDNA photo. And while they didn't pose for a group photo, we should all find someone who looks at us the way that Marquise Brown looks at CeeDee Lamb:


After the jersey swaps, I moved towards the tunnel to get players coming off the field. Trey McBride couldn't hide his happiness if he tried, and that final score in the background sure adds a nice touch:


D.J. Humphries flashed a "W" to all those fans at home:


And Joshua Dobbs gave a thumbs up to all the fans in the stands after he left his postgame interview:


After a win, we go inside the locker room to capture the victory speech and game ball presentations. With it being Jonathan Gannon's first win as head coach, this one was very special:


The entire room knelt down in prayer together, which really is a sight to see. The camaraderie and brotherhood this team displays is so touching:


Even though he doesn't enjoy the spotlight, Coach Gannon was thrown back into the middle to break the team out. I love all of the players' faces as they cheer on their head coach:


Finally, Cardinals Owner Michael Bidwill presented both Gannon and General Manager Monti Ossenfort with the game balls to commemorate their first win with the team:


This week was electric, and I can't wait to see what this team has in store for us. Through the good and the bad, I've had something to capture through my lens that tells a pretty cool story.

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