Cardinals have momentum, but playoff chances slim
It’s being called the biggest victory for the Arizona Cardinals
since Kurt Warner’s near-perfect performance against Green Bay in
the playoffs four years ago.
Sunday’s 17-10 stunner over the Seahawks in Seattle gives the
Cardinals their second 10-win season since the franchise moved
Arizona in 1988. A victory at home over San Francisco next Sunday
would tie the franchise record for regular-season wins.
But there’s a high probability it won’t be enough to get
first-year coach Bruce Arians’ team into the playoffs, that the
Cardinals will become the second 11-5 team to miss the postseason
since the NFL went to the division format in 2002.
The other was New England in 2008, when the Patriots routed
Arizona 47-7 just before Christmas, then watched the 9-7 Cardinals
make an improbable run to the Super Bowl.
Now Arizona could be the good team on the outside looking in,
even as an 8-8 team might make the playoffs in the AFC.
”It’s not in our control,” Arians said on Monday. ”I want to
be 11-5 and let the chips fall. There is some joy in that. If we’re
watching the playoffs, we’re watching a bunch of teams we beat.
That’s a little bit sour.”
Asked if an 11-win season will bring him any satisfaction if
there’s no playoffs, Arians said, ”not really, because it’s all
about the ring.
”You want to get to the dance. (An 11-5 record) will be nice.
It’s a nice foundation, but I’m really not about that stuff. We
play to get in the playoffs and win the championship. It would be a
shame, but that’s the way it is.”
After San Francisco’s victory over Atlanta on Monday night, the
Cardinals have one possible, though unlikely, route to the
postseason. Arizona needs to beat the 49ers at home Sunday and have
New Orleans lose at home to Tampa.
The win over the Seahawks ended Seattle’s 14-game home winning
streak. Quarterback Russell Wilson hadn’t lost a home game since
his junior season at North Carolina State, before he transferred to
Arians says the Cardinals are playing as well as anybody in the
”I don’t think too many teams want to see us in the playoffs,
especially the way our defense is playing right now,” he said.
”To have a road win like that, it’s a playoff atmosphere, because
they were playing for everything. I would feel very confident going
anywhere in this National Football League playing anybody.”
Arizona’s defensive performance allowed the Cardinals to
overcome Carson Palmer’s four interceptions. Palmer came back to
throw the game-winning touchdown 31-yard pass to Michael Floyd.
The Cardinals held the Seahawks to 192 yards of offense. Wilson
had his worst game as a pro, completing 11 of 27 for a career-low
108 yards with one touchdown and one interception. He was sacked
four times. Marshawn Lynch gained 71 yards in 18 carries, but
Arizona outgained Seattle on the ground 178 yards to 103. The
Seahawks had seven three-and-outs and a season-low 10 first
And Arizona had a memorable goal-line stand that resulted in a
missed Seattle field goal try near the end of the first half.
Arians has coached in the NFL for two decades, finally getting
his chance to be a head coach last year when Indianapolis’ Chuck
Pagano was stricken with leukemia. The Colts went 9-3 under Arians
and made the playoffs, earning him NFL coach of the year
He’s certainly a strong candidate again this year, taking new
general manager Steve Keim’s vastly overhauled roster and making it
a winner for the first time since that 10-6 2009 season. Arians is
19-8 as a head coach.
The 61-year-old said this Cardinals’ defense, under coordinator
Todd Bowles, is better than any he saw on the powerhouse Pittsburgh
teams while he was on the Steelers’ staff.
”I would put us above all those defenses, because of the number
of takeaways (30),” Arians said. ”We can stop the run. Those
teams were really good, but they didn’t create the number of
turnovers that this team is creating and closing out ball games.
The Cardinals won in a stadium where they were embarrassed 58-0
a year ago. They beat a Seahawks team that had handed Arizona its
only home loss of the season, 34-22 on Oct. 17.
Arizona is 7-1 since then.
AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org
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