30-year old running back Chris Johnson found youth beyond the defensive front of the Baltimore Ravens to help the Arizona Cardinals survive a 4th-quarter collapse.
On their way to a rout, a bird fight broke out!
Following the premise of the late Brandon Lee’s last film, the Ravens could have been mistaken for the Crows in the Thursday night match-up versus Arizona with how the players appeared to rise from death to avenge a 16-point 4th-quarter deficit. In the end, and thanks to a desperation pass that was picked off in the end zone, the Cardinals prevailed and sit comfortably atop the NFC West by two games still.
If you play fantasy football, you might have heard the week-long advice given via various sources, “Start Carson Palmer!” for reasons of “Baltimore’s secondary sucks!” in varying word usage, of course. Good advice, too. Logical advice because Baltimore’s pass defense is among the league’s five worst. Even John Brown, my personal sleeper pick of the year, was among the most started WRs in week 7. As you may have noticed this season, however, always thinking logically is not logical… Say it with me now, “And that’s why they play the games.”
It was the somewhat rejuvenated running back Chris Johnson — the reborn CJ2K after being shot in the off-season — that led the Arizona Cardinals over the Baltimore Ravens, 26-18, in a game that was not really that close. In fact, the Red Birds appeared to be pulling away in the second half while demolishing the point spread (set at -8.5 in the Cardinals’ favor). Mistakes, mental errors, then a blocked punt led to a 1-yard pass from Joe Flacco to fullback Kyle Juszczyk. Down by 10 points, the Ravens had no choice but to try a two-point conversion. It was accomplished and the lead shrunk to just 8 as a missed Arizona extra point earlier appeared to be coming back to bite them. Arizona found themselves punting the ball back to Baltimore at the two-minute warning. Flacco and the Ravens proceeded to drive downfield from their own 24-yard line to the Cardinals’ 4-yard line before an illegal formation call sent them back five yards. Tight end Crockett Gilmore, who had beaten Cardinals safety Tony Jefferson twice before, was the intended target down the middle in the back of the end zone, but this time Jefferson was expected it.
“I was so mad when he caught the ball (earlier),” Jefferson said. “He had caught two passes on me already, and of course they were going to come back to him. I knew the ball was coming to me. He threw it over him and I caught it.”
Scoring summary per quarter:
FIRST QUARTER: The Cardinals missed an opening-drive field goal. The Ravens’ first possession took eight plays to go a net total of 29 yards before settling for a 44-yard Justin Tucker field goal. The Cardinals scored next time out on three significant plays of 21, 33, and 26 yards, the last being a Chris Johnson touchdown run. Score: Cardinals 7, Ravens 3
SECOND QUARTER: Highlighted by a 29-yard pass from Flacco to Steve Smith, the Ravens scored on a 14-yard run from Justin Forsett. Arizona answer on a 8-play, 84-yard time-consuming drive and score, Carson Palmer to Michael Floyd for 3 yards. Halftime Score: Cardinals 14, Ravens 10
THIRD QUARTER: Highlighted by a 35-yard pass play from Carson to John Brown to land on the Ravens’ 6-yard line, Chandler Catanzaro kicked a 21 Yd Field Goal. Chris Johnson led the next scoring drive with a 62-yard burst up the middle that took them inside the 5, where it stalled and Chandler kicked another 21-yard field goal. Score: Cardinals 20, Ravens 10
FOURTH QUARTER: Baltimore fumbled a punt, Arizona recovered to threaten deep in Ravens territory. It took 5 plays to go only 12 yards, but the Cardinals scored again a 3-yard pass to Michael Floyd, however, the extra point was missed. The Ravens then scored going 1 yard on 1 play on a pass to Kyle Juszczyk. Still down by 10, attempted and made the two-point conversion. Only managing 23 yards on 8 plays, Arizona punted the ball back to the Ravens, where they drove 63 yards on 10 plays only to fall short on a picked-off pass by Joe Flacco, intended for tight end Crockett Gilmore Final Score: Cardinals 26, Ravens 18
Chris Johnson finished the game with 122 yards on 18 carries and a touchdown. Carson Palmer probably didn’t satisfy a lot of fantasy football team owners but did okay at 20 of 29, 275, 2 TDs (to John Brown and Michael Floyld), 0 INTs, and QBR of 122.1. John Brown led all receivers catching 4 of 6 targets for 65 yards and a score.
Joe Flacco went 26 of 40, 1 TD, 1 INT, and an 80.4 QBR. Justin Forsett carried 12 times for only 36 yards, but 1 touchdown.
The Cardinals (5-2) maintain a half-game lead in the loss column to hold a game-and-a-half lead over second-place Rams, two full games over the Seahawks, and three over the 49ers. They remain the highest-scoring team in the NFL (the New England Patriots are second). They now hit the road to face Cleveland before the major showdown they’ve been waiting for in the Seahawks in Seattle.