Cardinals wide receiver J.J. Nelson jumps into the arms of tight end Darren Fells Sunday night after Nelson scored a touchdown in the Cardinals' 34-31 win, one of four Cards' TDs in the game.
Larry Fitzgerald insisted the Cardinals could have scored 40 points Sunday night, going against the top scoring defense in the NFL.
The second-half offensive explosion, all done without wide receiver Michael Floyd and with wide receiver John Brown clearly not healthy, showed of which the Cards are capable.
"It also shows that we were pathetic in the first half," Fitzgerald said.
The chase for offensive perfection should be lauded, but it also begs the question – how can 34 points against the stingiest team in the
NFL not be good? How can 39 points in Seattle (which the No. 2 scoring defense) not be enough?
"It's kind of sounding like a broken record but I really didn't like the way we played," coach Bruce Arians said Monday, less than 24 hours after the Cardinals toppled the Bengals.
There are things to consider, especially defensively, where top cornerback Patrick Peterson and starting defensive lineman Frostee Rucker both are day-to-day with ankle injuries. But if it wasn't clear already, offensively this team is impressive – and that's even with all the nits being picked by Arians and his players.
The Cardinals already have scored 336 points in just 10 games. For perspective, that's already more points than the Cardinals scored in 22 of the 27 previous seasons they have played since moving to Arizona.
They have already tied the franchise record for games with at least 30 points with seven this season. And quarterback Carson Palmer's 27 touchdown passes already ranks as the fourth-best season in franchise history, with Kurt Warner's record of 30 seemingly destined to fall.
And that's with "pathetic" points like Sunday's first half.
"When one guy is struggling or one side of the ball is struggling, you pick up the slack for the guys around you," Palmer said. "We picked it up in the second half."
The belief the Cardinals can score at will also played into the final drive. With 58 seconds left at their own 16-yard line in a tie game, trying – at least at first – to get the game-winning field goal probably wasn't out of the ordinary for any team. But the Cardinals, believing in what Palmer can do (already having bounced back from two interceptions to throw four touchdown passes), didn't think
"I think some of the defensive guys were holding on to their ass," Arians said. "Like, 'What are you doing, Coach?' They know me too well know, and I think they trust Carson also. It's a trust factor. Will you lose one? Possibly. But you're not going to win one unless you try."
Three completed passes later, the Cardinals had moved 57 yards and into field-goal range.
"It wasn't easy," Palmer insisted, except that the Cardinals made it look that way.
The Cardinals are winning despite losing the turnover battle in each of the last three games – Arians said the notion is "crazy" – and mostly navigating long fields. Of the 12 touchdowns the Cardinals have scored the last three games, all have come on drives of at least 45 yards, and six were of at least 80 yards.
That's with Brown gimpy and, now, Floyd sitting. On the season, the Cards didn't have guard Mike Iupati for a time, or tight end Darren Fells, or running back Andre Ellington.
None of that seems to matter. If Palmer is pulling the trigger, the Cardinals are going to be in position to move the ball and score points. They have proven that.
Even if they believe they have more to prove.
"I would love to put four quarters of great football together offensively," Fitzgerald said. "We still have not been able to accomplish that. We've shown spurts: quarter here, half there. But we haven't put together the game I know we're capable of."
The top images from the Cardinals' victory over the Bengals in Week 11