Game Recap: Arizona Cardinals at Buffalo Bills

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Sep 25, 2016; Orchard Park, NY, USA; Arizona Cardinals running back David Johnson (31) jumps to avoid a tackle by Buffalo Bills defensive back Robert Blanton (26) during the second half at New Era Field. Bills beat the Cardinals 33-18.
Sep 25, 2016; Orchard Park, NY, USA; Arizona Cardinals running back David Johnson (31) jumps to avoid a tackle by Buffalo Bills defensive back Robert Blanton (26) during the second half at New Era Field. Bills beat the Cardinals 33-18.

Post-game review

The Arizona Cardinals lost to the Buffalo Bills, 33-18, in disappointing fashion on Sunday and were complete embarrassment in their first road game of the season. The Cardinals dropped the ball in all facets of the game and looked lost against the Bills on Sunday. Arizona was unable to put themselves in a position to win game and still have yet to win in Buffalo, going back to 1971, as the Cards drop to 1-2 to open the season.

The Cardinals unravelled on Sunday after getting on track in last week’s dominant 40-7 victory over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Sunday’s loss to the Bills snaps a five game road winning streak dating back to last season. On what was a beautiful autumn day in Orchard Park, Arizona looked absolutely putrid on the field and were hamstrung by dropped passes and sloppy play. The Cardinals began to make things interesting late in the game, coming within two scores, before faltering. Arizona’s offense had just as little an answer as the defense did for the Bills’ attack and lacked the necessary counterpunch to defeat them.


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Offensively the Cardinals came out stagnant again, failing to score in the first quarter for the third straight game. Arizona did not even pick up a first down until there was 9:33 left in the second quarter and had just two yards of total offense through their first five possessions. Carson Palmer started the game going 1 of 7 with a mere three yards of passing. Meanwhile, Buffalo garnered 142 yards of offense as the Cardinals were outscored 10-0 in the first 15 minutes of the game.

Arizona began to show signs of life when Patrick Peterson made a highlight reel interception, but then failed to capitalize on offense, while the Bills furthered their lead. Against a Cardinals’ defense that was only yielding 95.6 rushing yards per game, the Bills had amassed 145 yards on the ground only five minutes into the second quarter; including LeSean McCoy’s second rushing touchdown on the afternoon. The touchdown gave Buffalo a 17-0 with 10:25 to go in the half.

After failing to score in the first, the Cardinals finally got on the board in the second quarter with a 17-play, 84-yard drive that took 9:20 off the clock and was capped off with a David Johnson four-yard touchdown run. The touchdown cut the Bills’ lead to 10 shortly before the half. With 13 seconds left in the quarter, Chandler Jones recorded his third sack in three games, while Markus Golden also earned his third sack in three games late in the third. They join Bertrand Berry and Curtis Greer as the only players in franchise history to have a sack in each of the team’s first three games.

Arizona started the second-half much like they started the game as the Cardinals came out of the half flat and looking deflated. Forced into punting duties after Drew Butler sprained his ankle in the first quarter, Chandler Catanzaro shanked a punt for 19 yards to open the third quarter. Working on a short field, Bills’ quarterback, Tyrod Taylor, scampered for a 20-yard touchdown run, making the score 23-7 after Dan Carpenter failed to connect on the extra point attempt.

The Cardinals looked like they might get back into the game when Kameron Canaday botched his second snap in three games. This one led to Bills’ safety, Aaron Williams, picking it up and returning it 53-yards for a touchdown, nearly putting the game out of reach at 30-7 with 2:25 to go in the third. But, Arizona answered back, driving the ball 86 yards in just over two minutes, ending with Johnson scoring from 22 yards out and putting the Cardinals within 17 points.

The Cardinals would get within two scores of the Bills after Catanzaro hit on a 60-yard field goal attempt, closing the gap to 30-16, with 10:36 to go in the fourth quarter. The kick made history as it was the longest in a Bills’ home game; beating Steve Christie’s mark of 59 yards in 1993. It looked like Arizona might rally, but any thought of that was put to rest after Palmer threw an interception which led to a Buffalo field goal. Palmer would go on to throw four picks in the fourth quarter on the Cardinals’ final four possessions.

With a little over three minutes to go in the game, the Cardinals would add a safety but that was their last push as the game ended 33-18 and the Bills getting their first victory. Arizona drops to 1-2 after losing three games all of last season. Right now they do not look like the championship caliber team they are supposed to be, but have the right personnel and should be better.

The Cardinals need to get off to a quicker start or they will continue to find themselves playing from behind. They failed to record a first down until their sixth possession of the game and were outgained by the Bills 142 yards to two by the end of the first quarter. Unless the Cardinals are able to get going faster, they will be playing from behind most games. The season is still young, but this is not the same team from last year. Hopefully they can get things going next week and beat up on an unimpressive Los Angeles Rams team.

MVP

David Johnson rebounded with 88 yards on the ground and two scores after being limited to just 45 yards rushing last week, despite blowing out Tampa. Johnson was the lone bright spot  and accounted for most of the production, in an otherwise ineffective Cardinals’ offense. He could have had an even bigger day had he not tripped over his linemen’s feet, with an open path to the end zone, on at least two occasions. Chandler Jones and Markus Golden each deserve a nod for their contributions as they continue to put pressure on opposing quarterbacks. As a duo they are on pace to record 32 sacks combined.

LVP

Carson Palmer continued to look old and rusty on the field, missing on throws for much of the afternoon. Playing from behind, Palmer threw the ball 50 times, completing only 26 of his attempts for 287 yards, no touchdowns and four interceptions. His team didn’t do him any favors as they dropped several passes on the afternoon. Kameron Canaday also deserves honors for his high snap beyond the grasp of Drew Butler. Teams cannot afford to have their long snappers botching snaps, let alone two in three games.

Play of the game

There were not many plays to get excited about in this game for the Cardinals. Patrick Peterson’s one-handed pick had people talking around the water coolers, but with Arizona playing so poorly, it is hard to get excited about it. Catanzaro’s 60-yard boom was impressive, especially considering it was in Buffalo, however, all the miscues on special teams were considerably disappointing and makes it difficult to want to give the group any credit or praise. Larry Fitzgerald caught a three-yard pass on Arizona’s second drive, extending the NFL’s longest active reception streak to 182 games. He’s now caught a pass in 188 of 189 games played. The only game Fitzgerald failed to catch oddly came against the Bills in Buffalo in 2004. Ultimately, it is nothing more than a side note in a bad loss.

Next up

The Cardinals head back to Arizona for their first divisional matchup of the season as they play host to the Los Angeles Rams in week four. Kickoff is slated for Sunday, October second at 3:25 p.m. CST/1:25 p.m. MST on FOX — check your local listings. The Cardinals have won four of the five past contests with the Rams. Most recently, the Cardinals beat St. Louis 27-3 but lost to the Rams last time they came to Arizona, 24-22. The Rams are 2-1 and sit atop the NFC west. If the Cardinals are going to get back to the NFC Championship game, it starts with beating the Rams next Sunday.

– Miles Dittberner, is a Managing Editor at cover32 and covers the Arizona Cardinals and Minnesota Vikings. Like and follow vikings32 on Facebook and Twitter.

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