Cardinals stretch NFC lead with win over Lions
GLENDALE, Ariz. (AP) So far, nobody in the NFC can beat the Arizona Cardinals.
The Detroit Lions became the latest to fall.
Drew Stanton, starting after a knee injury ended Carson Palmer's season, threw two early touchdown passes to Michael Floyd and the Arizona defense did the rest in a 14-6 victory on Sunday.
The Cardinals won their sixth in a row to improve to an NFL-best 9-1. They are 7-0 against NFC foes, have a three-game lead over Seattle and San Francisco in the NFC West and a two-game lead over anyone else in the conference.
Don't expect coach Bruce Arians to get carried away with the success, though.
''Nothing's changed, really,'' he said. ''We'll go to work Wednesday. Nothing's won, nothing's lost. We're 9-1, and we could lose it all in the next four or five weeks.''
The Lions (7-3) failed to score a touchdown in a game for the first time since 2009.
''Away from home, against a real good football team, we can't afford not to be really sharp,'' Detroit coach Jim Caldwell said, ''and we weren't. That's something we have to fix, and we can get it fixed.''
Detroit managed only one serious touchdown threat. An interception by Cassius Vaughn gave the Lions the ball at the Cardinals' 19. They got it to the 10, but fell just short of a first down. Caldwell challenged the spot and it stood, and Detroit settled for a chip-shot field goal by Matt Prater.
Detroit's other three points came on Prater's 50-yarder.
Here are some things of note from the Cardinals' win over the Lions:
STANTON GOOD ENOUGH: Stanton, 3-1 as a starter this season, got off to a great start, leading the Cardinals on two long touchdown drives. He was a combined 6 for 8 for 129 yards and two touchdowns.
''For us to go out there and kind of get an early lead, I think it let everybody take a deep breath,'' Stanton said.
Facing the No. 1-rated defense in the NFL, Stanton cooled down after that, throwing two interceptions. And the Cardinals weren't able to score.
His wife gave birth to a daughter, the couple's second child, last Monday. So was that the best week of his life?
''I don't know,'' Stanton said. ''It's up there. My wife probably wouldn't want me saying that since her marriage to me was probably the best day.''
MEGATRON UNDER CONTROL: Detroit's Calvin Johnson didn't get any of his trademark big plays.
He finished with five catches for 59 yards but was targeted 12 times. He had one catch for four yards in the first half.
Patrick Peterson defended Johnson most of the time.
''We kept 81 (Johnson) under wraps,'' Peterson said. ''We didn't let him score or have a big game.''
Johnson called the whole experience ''frustrating.''
He was treated after the game for ''a little elbow issue'' but said ''I'm all right.''
REVERSAL OF FORTUNES: A successful challenge by Arians negated what would have been a big gain for the Lions in the fourth quarter. Instead, they were pinned them at their own 1-yard line.
Arizona's Justin Bethel got to a Cardinals' punt and tossed the ball away from the goal line.
But Detroit's Jeremy Ross picked it up and raced 49 yards to the Arizona 45.
Arians argued that Bethel had held the ball long enough for the punt to be downed before tossed it back. After a review, the officials agreed and, instead of threatening to score, Detroit was back at its 1.
''It was a bummer,'' Ross said. ''Starting at the one, you never want to be backed up in your own territory. That wasn't the best situation.''
FLOYD'S BACK: After catching a combined five passes for 47 yards and no touchdowns in the previous three games, Floyd had his first two-TD game as a pro.
''Being a wide receiver, it is frustrating not getting the ball,'' he said. ''I go back to the Philly game (no catches) when I had chances to make a play and I fell short. Since then, practice is where I want to do it and make sure I do everything right to feel good on Sundays.''
TOUGH ROAD: The Cardinals are 6-0 at home but play four of their remaining six games on the road.
It begins next Sunday in Seattle, where Arizona won last season.
''That's a big, big challenge to go back up there after last year,'' Arians said. ''They'll be more than ready. Their backs are against the wall, so we're going to get their best shot for sure.
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