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Cardinals Turn To The Run

Posted Oct 6, 2013

Notebook: Palmer struggles; Sowell's solid debut; Campbell records rare safety

Running back Andre Ellington bursts through the line during Sunday's 22-6 win over Carolina.

Bruce Arians acknowledged that “part of the problem” with the Cardinals’ offense in the first half of Sunday’s 22-6 win over Carolina was an imbalance with the running and passing games. So the coach changed it.

After the Cardinals ran the ball just six times in the first half, seven of the 10 plays the Cards ran on a second-half opening touchdown drive were runs. It ended with Rashard Mendenhall’s one-yard touchdown burst.

The Cardinals ended up with 28 rushing attempts for 90 yards (including three straight Carson Palmer kneel-downs, each losing a yard, to end the game.) Mendenhall’s numbers weren’t impressive – 43 yards on 17 carries – but he got the carries, and rookie Andre Ellington continued to shine with 52 yards on seven carries.

It was crucial, because with Palmer playing poorly with three interceptions, the Cardinals shifted away from passing as much as they had been.

“It was an opportunity to show that we (as an offense) aren’t one-sided,” Ellington said. “We can be a balanced offense.”

Arians said he was pleased with his offense in the second half and the Cardinals were more effective. But overall, it wasn’t what the Cards expect.

“We were fortunate to get 22 points,” Palmer said. “We didn’t capitalize enough. We should have won by a much larger margin. We had some really good field position opportunities, and went three-and-out I think twice on them.”

As for his own showing – 19-for-28, 175 yards, one touchdown and the three interceptions – Palmer was blunt: “Not good enough.”

Wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald caught three passes on six targets but twice Palmer was picked off trying to get him the ball.

“The win keeps you sane a little bit,” Fitzgerald said. “We’ve just got to do better (offensively). It’s great to be 3-2, but obviously, going to San Francisco, having Seattle come here and then Atlanta the next three games, we have to put some points up.”

SOWELL WORKS IN AS THE NEW LEFT TACKLE

In his first start as left tackle in the NFL, Bradley Sowell basically went unnoticed by Arians.

“That’s a pretty good thing,” Arians said.

Sowell, who replaced the traded Levi Brown, held college teammate Greg Hardy to one QB hit and no sacks in a debut that the Cardinals will live with.

“At first my mouth was so dry my gum was stuck to the roof of my mouth,” Sowell said. “I had to wake up. Once I got in a rhythm I felt so comfortable. I really felt like I belonged.”

“At the end of the day,” Sowell added, “my guy had zero sacks.”

Said Hardy, “He held his own. I did my thing as normal and I didn’t do as good as I should’ve done, hands down.”

SAFETY FIRST FOR CAMPBELL

The Cardinals hadn’t had a safety in a regular-season game since linebacker Gerald Hayes blocked a punt Oct. 24, 2004 against Seattle in the team’s Sun Devil Stadium days. That was until Sunday, when defensive end Calais Campbell rumbled in for his first sack of the day, crunching Panthers quarterback Cam Newton to give the Cardinals a 12-6 lead at the time.

“That was one of those plays where Patrick Peterson got me hyped up,” Campbell said. “I was sitting on the sideline for a second and a player got hurt so there was a lot of time left for me to get in there. Patrick was like, ‘Come on, we need you, come make a play.’ So I got in there kind of hyped up and I just did what Pat P told me.”

BIRTHDAY PRESENT FOR ARIANS

Arians turned 61 earlier in the week, and he called Sunday’s victory “the best birthday present I’ve had in a long time.”

“Those are the type of games we’re going to need to keep putting together,” Arians added. “You can call them ugly wins or any kind of wins you want. As long as they’re wins, I love them.”


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