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Third-Down Issues Sinking Cardinals' Defense

The Cardinals are still in the middle of the pack in yards per play allowed this season at 5.3, but are now second-to-last in scoring defense. The Cardinals are giving up 27.3 points per contest, and have allowed 34, 33 and 33 the last three games. Like last year, the issue has been third downs, the most critical of plays in each drive.

The Cardinals are still in the middle of the pack in yards per play allowed this season at 5.3, but are now second-to-last in scoring defense. The Cardinals are giving up 27.3 points per contest, and have allowed 34, 33 and 33 the last three games.

Like last year, the issue has been third downs, the most critical of plays in each drive.

The Cardinals are allowing an average of 6.74 yards per play on third down and giving up first downs 47.4 percent of the time. Opposing quarterbacks have a rating of 100.9 on third down and have only thrown one interception – the Antoine Bethea pick against the 49ers – despite often being in less-than-advantageous situations.

The problem likely stems from the pass rush. Chandler Jones has three sacks on third down but the rest of the team has combined for only one (Olsen Pierre). The Cardinals are doing enough defensively on first and second down to set themselves up to get off the field, but have not been able to finish it off.

The issue has been particularly glaring in the past two road games. Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz was 11-of-13 for 225 yards and three touchdowns on third down. On Sunday, Jared Goff was 9-of-13 for 118 yards and a score. The Rams converted 13-of-19 third-down opportunities, consistently keeping their drives alive and wearing out the Cardinals.

Cardinals OPPONENTS BY DOWN

*AVG Yards GainedTouchdownsTurnoversSackS*
First Down (211 plays) 5.0 6 2 3
Second Down (155 plays) 4.2 7 4 5
Third Down (114 plays) 6.7 6 1 4
Fourth Down (5 plays) 9.2 1 0 0

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