Cardinals cornerback Marcus Cooper was one of four starters lost due to injury.
MIAMI GARDENS, Florida – The appearance of a wide receiver on defense is generally not a good sign for the health of a football team.
A rash of in-game injuries hit the Cardinals hard in Sunday's 26-23 loss to the Dolphins, at one point forcing Brittan Golden into the role of safety for the first time since he was a senior in high school a decade ago.
He was needed because the Cardinals lost cornerback Marcus Cooper (back) and safety Tyvon Branch (groin) for the game and safety Tony Jefferson momentarily.
"They said, 'I need a safety, I need a safety,'" Golden said. "They came up to me and said, 'Play deep middle.' You got it."
Cooper and Branch joined left tackle D.J. Humphries (concussion), money linebacker Deone Bucannon (ankle) and right tackle Ulrick John as the five starters who went down in the contest.
Humphries' absence forced the Cardinals to go to John Wetzel at left tackle. Bucannon was first replaced by Zaviar Gooden, and then, after Gooden allowed a touchdown, by Sio Moore. Brandon Williams and Justin Bethel – who was beaten for a pair of key receptions on Miami's game-winning drive -- saw snaps in the second half because of the injuries to Cooper and Branch.
The Cardinals would have needed to replace John but didn't get the ball back after he was hurt.
"A bunch of guys had to step up in this game because we had guys going down left and right," coach Bruce Arians said. "We played the fourth quarter without a nickel (cornerback). Bettch (defensive coordinator James Bettcher) did a hell of a job coming up with some things to play defense to keep us in the game."
The Dolphins suffered a big blow, too, when quarterback Ryan Tannehill left the game in the second half with a knee injury.
RAIN AFFECTS PASSING GAME
The Cardinals used a wet ball during practice on Wednesday and thought there was a good chance it would rain during the game, but an off-and-on downpour made for a game of sloppiness. There were seven turnovers and the ball was slipping out of the hands of everyone.
It made life tough on quarterback Carson Palmer, who finished the game 18-of-33 for 145 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions.
"Raining is one thing," Arians said. "Pouring down, soaking-(expletive) wet balls is another."
Palmer didn't surpass 100 yards passing until midway through the fourth quarter, but the sun came out long enough for him to engineer a pair of impressive scoring drives to tie the game.
Palmer found Golden for a 9-yard touchdown and J.J. Nelson for an 8-yard score, then hit running back David Johnson on a two-point conversion. The team had the ball with a chance to win with under two minutes remaining, but Palmer fumbled on the first play, putting the offense in a bad position, and it punted two plays later.
"I've never seen or played in anything like that," Nelson said. "But it's football. You play in any weather. No excuses."
**J.J. WITH MORE BIG PLAYS
Nelson resumed his penchant for coming up with big plays, taking an end-around 56 yards to the house for the Cardinals' first touchdown and adding the tying score late.
Nelson who had a 42-yard touchdown reception last week, has 83 rushing yards on four carries this season after the big run in which he found a crease and exploded past the Miami defenders. It was the longest rush by a Cardinals wide receiver since Bobby Joe Conrad's 56-yarder in 1959.
"I've been running (end-arounds) ever since I was little," Nelson said. "I'm glad Coach was able to put me in to make that play."
ARIANS HONORS FALLEN CARDS FAN
The name 'Glasser' was patched on the sleeve of Arians' shirt to honor Phoenix police officer David Glasser, who was shot and killed while responding to a burglary in May.
A large contingent of Cardinals fans made the trip to Miami, and Glasser, who was a big fan and went on one road trip per season, would have been with them.