Not all football games are created equal, according to Arizona Cardinals safety Tyrann Mathieu.
That's one reason why Mathieu has adopted a what-have-you-done-for-me-lately approach as his team enters the final month of the season holding a three-game lead over the Seattle Seahawks atop the NFC West.
“This is the time of the season where we really need our playmakers to make plays,” Mathieu told Arizona Sports 98.7 FM. “So the first half – September, October, November – really doesn’t matter. This December football is very important.
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“We need all our young guys to play big and we definitely need our veterans to step up and lead us.”
Mathieu qualifies as one of Arizona's playmakers, but he didn't wait for December to roll around to ratchet up his game. In Sunday's 19-13 victory at San Francisco, Mathieu registered a career-high 13 tackles along with an interception and two passes defensed.
Those numbers didn't impress Mathieu's coach. “He statistically had a good game, but it still wasn’t one of his best games,” Bruce Arians said.
Mathieu shares a similar menality to Arians when assessing his own performance, despite the fact that he is second on the Cardinals to linebacker Deone Bucannon with 70 tackles and shares the team lead with four interceptions.
“I can always get better, not to sound cliché,” Mathieu said. “I should have eight interceptions and maybe I should have 80 tackles instead of 70. There are plays that I miss that I want back and that’s the challenge — to continue to get better week in, week out. When those plays are there to be made, you just want to capitalize on opportunity.”