In sports winning cures all, and for the Arizona Cardinals Thursday night in San Francisco the team got back on the winning track. This can be a game that can shift the team into the next gear, and get on a winning streak that might be hard to stop. The Cards came away with a few casualties in key injuries, but for the most part came away feeling great about themselves after a slow 1-3 start.
With perhaps the season on the line, Thursday nights 33 to 21 victory may have exercised some demons and got this team on the right track. The 49ers are a bad team let’s face it, so the results of this game had to be domination and after another scoreless first quarter and the slow half, the team got ignited on special teams of all places and dominated the lowly 49ers.
The defense gathered seven sacks and two interceptions all lead by veteran defensive end Calais Campbell. Campbell yielded two of the seven sacks and one of the picks that gave the momentum to the Cardinals in which they excelled from that point on.
“I knew I was due up and just playing the game the right way and sometimes things just fall your way, there were still a few plays out there that I left that I’m really disappointed with myself with, but in the end it was a great game that Felt good to be in” said Campbell after the game.
The mental part of football can be really hard to get under control and it takes positive happenings to gain confidence to play the way you’re capable. Many positive things finally went the Cardinals way on Thursday night, but let’s be real, most of that was due to the caliber of opponent that was on the field.
But nevertheless that was an NFL team and the Cards did what they were supposed to do and that dominated that team. Outside of the 49ers, the Cardinals had many obstacles that make this win such a momentum booster. Facing a 1-4 start, a Thursday night game resulting in a short week of practice, and being the road team on Thursday night which is always hard to overcome, coming off its second home loss and one to a division foe, not to mention having to play your backup quarterback in a short week. Drew Stanton didn’t lite it up but he did just enough to allow this team to begin to feel good about itself by making positive plays to the teams reliable. Getting the ball to Larry Fitzgerald for two touchdowns and above all did not turn the ball over.
As this game went on the defense gained that confidence and you saw intensity for the first time in quite some time. Defensive coach James Betcher was pumping his fist and celebrating on the sideline with a face that said this is what we are capable of doing day in and day out.
Tyrann Mathieu said it best in his locker room breakdown of the team shouting “We were supposed to win that game and we were supposed to win the way we wanted to, we were supposed to dominate, so don’t get too far ahead yall self we were supposed to do that (bleep) tonight” the Badger went further to say “keep yall heads right on the break and when we come back we got business on our minds” said perfectly by a good leader.
I look at this game as a tune-up to propel this team the rest of the way, seeing how the team did not get many live reps in the preseason that may have caused the slow start. Confidence is the key component that came away from Thursday nights game for the defense and the offensive lines, and special teams, those are the fazes that big games are won and if the team can build on their performance they will be a team to reckon with.
The formula to win that game should be the formula the rest of the way for coach Bruce Arians. In other words, let the dominance of your running game set up the easy throws down the field. David Johnson is a legit rising star and at the running back position, you ride that horse as long as you can, because its short lived. Johnson ran for 157-yards and 28-yards receiving and was the focal point of the offense which is the way big games like division and playoff games are won. Let’s hope the coaching staff can realize it’s time to shelf the old game plan of chucking it down the field and turn to the young strong workhorse to scare teams into a nine-man box and then kill them with the deep ball.
The next three opponents are not the 49ers, and this confidence can carry the Cardinals a long way if they play it right. The Jets, Seahawks, and Panthers can all stop your pass game, but can indeed be run on and that should be the game plan going forward. These next three games are the most critical of the 2016 season, in fact, they are the key to this team getting back to the point they were last year.
We will see how the positive of Thursday nights dominate win will play out the rest of the way. Should this team get back to its winning ways, this game will be the game we all look back on and see the obstacles they overcame.