Cardinals’ secondary steps up in first game without Mathieu

Jerraud Powers returned a fumble for a touchdown in Arizona's 38-8 win over Green Bay on Sunday.
Mark J. Rebilas/Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

The Arizona Cardinals' secondary easily passed its first test without injured safety Tyrann Mathieu.

Despite the absence of Mathieu and starting safety Rashad Johnson, the Cardinals held Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers to 151 yards passing – his second-lowest total of the season – in a 38-8 drubbing of the Packers on Sunday. 

“I knew we had really good matchups,” Arizona coach Bruce Arians said at his postgame media briefing. “That’s a pretty good defensive performance without your two starting safeties.”

Replacing Mathieu, who suffered a season-ending knee injury in a Week 15 victory at Philadelphia, was among the biggest worries going forward for the Cardinals. Jerraud Powers slid into Mathieu's spot and made a strong first impression with a pair of fumble recoveries, including one for a touchdown.

“Ty was a flash, playmaking nickel-type guy,” Powers said. “In my mind, we can’t miss a beat from that nickel position. We have to have the same type of production or the defense isn’t going to be the same.”

Justin Bethel, starting at cornerback with Powers taking over for Mathieu, also held up well while being targeted frequently by Rodgers, who avoided throwing in the area of cornerback Patrick Peterson. Bethel had seven tackles and a critical interception in the end zone late in the opening half.

“I think it just shows our versatility, especially when we lose a guy like Ty,” Bethel said. “No matter what or any kind of adversity comes our way, we’ll be able to go out there and perform at a high level.”

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