Cardinals score 40 but Arians criticizes Johnson, offense
Arizona Cardinals strong safety Tony Jefferson (22) celebrates his fumble recovery against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Sept. 18, 2016, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)
TEMPE, Ariz. (AP) Bruce Arians is a hard man to please.
His Arizona Cardinals rolled for 416 yards and accounted for 33 points in a 40-7 rout of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and still he wasn't happy.
''Because we should have had 50, you know,'' the coach said in his Monday news conference.
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''We left 100, 120 yards and two touchdowns just on mental errors by David Johnson.''
No matter that Johnson accounted for 143 yards – 45 rushing and 98 receiving, 58 on one play.
''The score doesn't indicate how poorly we played offensively,'' Arians said. ''We can get a hell of a lot better.''
Johnson acknowledged his mistakes.
''My bonehead plays,'' he said. ''They are plays that I know what I was doing, I just didn't do it. They're easy reads and easy routes.''
The dynamic second-year running back joins a long list of prominent Cardinals to be called out publicly by his coach.
''It's good motivation,'' Johnson said. ''It's good that he keeps us grounded. He keeps level-headed and lets us know, especially me, that I have some work to do.''
Arians was pleased that his team scored two touchdowns late in the first half to blow open a 24-0 lead.
Carson Palmer's 51-yard touchdown throw to Jaron Brown with 20 seconds left in the half wasn't planned. The Cardinals were trying to get into field-goal range.
''They gave us a coverage where Jaron had a chance to go over the top of the safety … Carson saw it immediately and put a perfect ball out there,'' Arians said.
''We really had Smoke (John Brown) working the middle of the field and Larry (Fitzgerald) coming in on a dig, to get 20 yards. We just found the right spot. Don't ever play scared, play smart.''
Arians' criticism aside, the Cardinals did rebound decisively from a season-opening home loss to New England.
The coach gave game balls to safety Tony Jefferson and cornerback Marcus Cooper. Nobody on offense got one.
Jefferson matched his career high with 11 tackles. He had two tackles for loss, a quarterback hit and a fumble recovery.
Cooper, acquired in a trade with Kansas City on Sept. 2, intercepted two of Jameis Winston's passes, returning the second one 60 yards for a score.
Calais Campbell also earned praise from Arians, something that doesn't happen often, as well as the rest of the defensive line.
''Really all of them,'' Arians said. ''Ed Stinson played well. The entire group, as a group, was one of their better games. I thought we got a really good 20-something snaps out of Xavier (Williams). Josh Mauro had a great game with the tip for the interception.''
Chandler Jones, who came from New England to bolster Arizona's pass rush, got his second sack in as many games. Arians wasn't impressed.
''I'd like to see him get one in the second or third quarter when it counts,'' he said, ''more than when you've got a 30-point lead.''
Now the Cardinals (1-1) head across the country to Buffalo (0-2) for their first road game.
''You've got to respect your opponent every week,'' Arians said. ''Buffalo's got a ton of talent. Don't get caught up in the coaching stuff (the firing of the Bills' offensive coordinator). You just watch the film. There's enough up there to scare you.''
Notes: Arians said there were no injuries in Sunday's game that will cause anyone to miss any playing time. … The Cardinals have seven takeaways in two games and have yet to commit a turnover. … Sunday's win was the Cardinals' fifth game scoring at least 40 points in the past two seasons.
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