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The Cardinals' missing first quarter

Last season, it was a breeze.

The very first game of 2015, the Cardinals marched 80 yards for a touchdown on their initial possession of the season, against the Saints. The next week, they didn't even bother with a drive -- David Johnson simply took the opening kickoff and raced 108 yards for a TD. In the third game, the offense didn't score right away, but that was OK -- Justin Bethel picked off a Colin Kaepernick pass on the 49ers' first possession and ran it in for a touchdown. The Cards scored 86 points in the first quarter in 2015, 25 more than their opponent.

This year, after eight games, they have scored only seven points.

It's a crazy stat, one that speaks to the Cards' issues perhaps more than anything else. Last year, they played from ahead. Those seven points, by the way, came on a Johnson 58-yard touchdown run -- meaning that in the first quarter, the Cardinals have yet to put together a drive that encompasses entering the red zone and then scoring. If you would've told me that this would be a thing halfway through the season, I'd never have believed it.

Worse, the Cards have given up 41 first-quarter points, meaning they are the ones playing from behind. The defense could use more first-quarter stops itself.

A game against the 49ers might help, although it's fair to remember (albeit with Drew Stanton at QB) that the Cardinals would have been scoreless for the entire first half against the same struggling defense in San Francisco if it hadn't been for a timely Chandler Jones tip/Calais Campbell interception right before halftime.

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