Calais Campbell: 62 of 64
Kareem Martin: 38 of 64
Tommy Kelly: 27 of 64
Frostee Rucker: 27 of 64
Dan Williams: 26 of 64
Ed Stinson: 3 of 64
Recap: Campbell’s size and length was needed almost all game, sitting out just two snaps. Dan Williams was on the field for much of the 49ers' no-huddle offense in the first half. Martin, a rookie, was utilized for his athleticism in the middle. By defending San Francisco’s five-wide sets early, Arizona stayed with four down linemen for most of the first half -- Campbell, Martin, Rucker and Williams.
Larry Foote: 64 of 64
Kevin Minter: 19 of 64
Recap: Minter was another victim of Arizona playing its nickel and dime packages for most of the game. He’s not usually on the field when Arizona sends out six defensive backs, being replaced by Deone Bucannon. Foote continued to impress at 34 playing a full game.
Matt Shaughnessy: 43 of 64
Sam Acho: 26 of 64
Thomas Keiser: 14 of 64
Recap: By playing mostly in nickel and dime, the Cardinals didn’t use two outside linebackers often, opting for three linemen and just one outside backer on most plays. Keiser was the odd man out this game, getting just 14 snaps.
Patrick Peterson: 63 of 64
Jerraud Powers: 53 of 64
Antonio Cromartie: 41 of 64
Justin Bethel: 24 of 64
Recap: Powers benefitted from Arizona spending most of the game in nickel and dime, missing just 11 plays. Cromartie left the game in the third quarter with a bruised knee injury with gave Bethel his first significant action of the season.
Rashad Johnson: 64 of 64
Tony Jefferson: 52 of 64
Deone Bucannon: 43 of 64
Tyrann Mathieu: 15 of 64
Recap: As Mathieu continues his comeback, he’s starting to chip away at Jefferson’s snaps with a season-high 15. Even though it has been only three games, Bucannon has established his role this season as the Cardinals’ dime linebacker. His size and athleticism allow him to play that linebacker role while being able to drop back into coverage.
Larry Fitzgerald: 62 of 67
Michael Floyd: 61 of 67
John Brown: 35 of 67
Ted Ginn Jr.: 13 of 67
Jaron Brown: 6 of 67
Recap: John Brown got a couple more snaps this game than he did last week, and that will continue to increase every game as Arizona figures out more ways to utilize his speed. Ginn only played 13 snaps but he was targeted on three of them, two of which were deep passes, so his role is starting to develop.
Andre Ellington: 49 of 67
Stepfan Taylor: 14 of 67
Robert Hughes: 9 of 67
Jalen Parmele: 1 of 67
Recap: It looked like Ellington and Taylor teamed up to shoulder the load left over by Jonathan Dwyer's absence. Taylor saw a dramatic increase from his workload in Week 2 and Ellington picked up a few more plays. Parmele, who was signed Thursday, had his only carry come on third down.
John Carlson: 51 of 67
Troy Niklas: 27 of 67
Darren Fells: 7 of 67
Recap: Without Rob Housler, who was out with a hip injury, Niklas was called on more. Fells got the start, but he’s still acclimating to the NFL game.
Pro Bowl receiver Larry Fitzgerald has been targeted more in the last two weeks after a firestorm erupted in Week 1, but it hasn’t been enough, especially early in games. The Cardinals are off this week before they travel to Denver in Week 5 to face a Broncos secondary that’s allowed the second-most passing yards per game. Arizona can spend that time working on getting Fitzgerald involved in the game plan earlier. If there was a game to get Fitzgerald involved again, this would be it.
When Fitzgerald is involved in the first-half offense, the Cardinals can move the ball more efficiently and score at a higher clip -- as was evident again in Week 3, when Arizona scored just six points in the first two quarters, when Fitzgerald was targeted just twice. It’s easy to say Fitzgerald is involved in the offense, but when you compare Weeks 2 and 3, the lack of his presence is obvious. Against New York in Week 2, the Cardinals scored 10 points in the first half after targeting Fitzgerald seven times.
During his progressions, Drew Stanton looked Fitzgerald’s way more often than Carson Palmer did in Week 1, but even those were few and far between, a review of the game film proved. Fitzgerald, whose first catch didn’t come until the fourth quarter, when the game was already decided, often drew single coverage underneath in the first half. With deep help over the top, the short routes to Fitzgerald were open in the first half. A few passes to him could’ve opened up the rest of the passing game in the first two quarters.
Let's take our weekly deep dive into the Sunday performance of five NFL quarterbacks, using data supplied by analyst Jacob Nitzberg via ESPN Stats & Information. After all, the numbers don't always speak for themselves.
Luck threw 39 passes and only three were judged via video analysis to be overthrown or underthrown. He completed 31 throws, had three dropped and two knocked away by the Jacksonville Jaguars' defense. These were not easy throws, either. He attempted six that traveled at least 20 yards downfield and completed all of them, the first time an NFL quarterback has thrown at least five without an interception since at least 2006. Luck completed 14-of-15 on first down and 9-of-10 on third down, eight of which converted first downs. Against the Jaguars' blitz, he completed 8 of 10 passes for 120 yards and two touchdowns.
This was as good of a pure passing game as we've seen from a quarterback this season. Luck was accurate from all levels, completing a career-high 79.5 percent of his passes overall, and did not commit a turnover.
For one week, at least, Manning was a true West Coast quarterback in the New York Giants' new offensive scheme. He attempted only three passes that traveled more than 15 yards downfield and all three fell incomplete, his lowest such figure since Week 14 of the 2012 season. Of his 21 completions, 19 traveled 10 or fewer yards downfield. He also released the ball an average of 1.97 seconds after the snap, his quickest in a game since at least the start of the 2011 season. Manning also reacted well when the Houston Texans blitzed a defensive back, completing 5 of 6 passes for 67 yards and a touchdown in those situations.
Manning is being asked to remake his style at the age of 33 in this new scheme. Week 3 was the first time we've seen any evidence that the transition is taking. In the big picture, that's not an unreasonable time frame.
The Seattle Seahawks limited Manning through the first three quarters primarily through a standard four-man (or fewer) pass rush that he normally dominates. He had completed 12 of 20 passes against it for just 78 yards, an average of 3.9 yards per attempt, when the fourth quarter began. (Against the blitz, he had completed 6 of 9 passes for 63 yards). But in the fourth quarter, Manning completed 12 of 17 passes for 148 yards against the Seahawks' standard rush. Why? By necessity, he pushed the ball downfield more. Before the start of the fourth quarter, Manning threw only one pass that traveled at least 20 yards downfield. In the fourth, he threw three, completing two, including the final touchdown.
The Broncos had an uncharacteristically meek game plan against the Seahawks' elite defense, and they didn't really get going until Manning started driving the ball downfield. Before that point, he attempted seven screen passes (his most since joining the Broncos in 2012) and completed six -- for a grand total of 5 net yards. Manning will look at this game and wish he had been more aggressive sooner.
The Lions stymied Rodgers largely by playing coverage and relying on their front four to provide pressure. Rodgers faced four or fewer pass-rushers on 25 of his 29 dropbacks, but he completed only 58.3 percent of the resulting passes at an average of 5.8 yards per attempt. Both were career lows for Rodgers against the Lions. (In his career, Rodgers has completed 67.7 percent and averaged 8.15 yards per attempt against standard rushes.) Rodgers did not attempt a single pass of at least 20 yards downfield for the first time since Week 3 of 2011, and he managed just one completion on passes thrown at least 15 yards.
The Lions game put an exclamation point on what has been an unexplosive start for Rodgers and the Packers' offense. After averaging 6.0 yards per attempt Sunday, he is averaging 6.8 for the season. In 2013, he ranked No. 2 in the NFL at 8.7 yards per attempt and 8.24 yards in his career as a starter before this season. Some of that slip can be tracked to Rodgers' inaccuracy; he has overthrown or underthrown 11 percent of his passes, more than twice his career average, based on video analysis.
Stanton's average pass Sunday traveled 14.91 yards past the line of scrimmage, the highest mark in the NFL for Week 3 and a quantitative illustration of Stanton's aggressiveness in Bruce Arians' downfield passing offense. Against the San Francisco 49ers, he threw 13 passes that traveled at least 15 yards past the line of scrimmage and 10 of more than 20 yards. Both touchdown passes traveled at least 15 yards in the air. Stanton also completed 7 of 10 third-down throws, with all seven converting a first down, and converted three first downs on all three of his non-kneeling runs.
Arians brought Stanton with him from Indianapolis for a reason: He was confident Stanton had both the arm strength and the mindset to push the ball downfield. There was no denying that fact Sunday.
When Cardinals defensive lineman Darnell Dockett saw it, the first thing he did was offer tickets to a man in the video wearing his No. 90 jersey.
The tweet said in part: "Who was the guy in the Dockett jersey in the brawl at the cardinals game??? Contact me I have some tickets for you."
The initial reaction throughout the twittersphere was outrage.
Tweeters thought Dockett was rewarding a man with tickets for fighting. But what they didn’t realize was that the man in the Dockett jersey was trying to break up the fight.
When the brawl, which started in seats about five rows up, ended going down the stairs leading to the concourse, the man in the Dockett jersey can be seen trying to pull brawlers away from each other and then he stops a fan from choking a security guard by throwing a punch or two.
That’s why Dockett was rewarding him.
Cardinals coach Bruce Arians was asked about Dockett wanting to give the tickets away but without the context that the fan was helping break up the fight, not instigate it. "Beautiful," Arians said with a smirk. "I love it."
“There’s no doubt he was sliding and that could have ended his career, that hit,” Arians said. “But he’s extremely tough.
It also saved the Cardinals from having to go to third-string quarterback Logan Thomas. After the hit by 49ers linebacker Dan Skuta, Arians asked Stanton how he was feeling. At the time, Arians was trying to determine if he needed to take Stanton out of the game. Thomas began warming up at one point.
“I kept asking him on the headset, ‘You OK? You faking?'” Arians said. “He said, ‘I’m OK.’ He wasn’t faking though. That was a vicious hit that he took.”
Skuta, who was flagged 15 yards for unnecessary roughness after the hit, said he tried to stay as low as he could on the hit.
“I talked to him after the game,” Skuta said of Stanton. “I said, ‘You know I wouldn’t hit you if you were down,’ He said, ‘I know, that’s why I didn’t say anything. I knew it was a bad call.’ That’s what he said.”
The he said-he said debate can rage on. Skuta’s quotes were not available to the Arizona media until after Stanton spoke Sunday afternoon and Stanton wasn’t in the Cardinals’ locker room during availability on Monday.
Regardless of what either player said, the 49ers' penalties cost them. Those 15 yards and another 15 on the ensuing play after a roughing-the-passer penalty on Niners linebacker Patrick Willis put Arizona at the San Francisco 25. Three plays later, Arizona scored the go-ahead touchdown.
“I thought both were really, really good calls,” Arians said. “The second one was on the tape last year sent out by the referees. You can’t lead with the crown of your helmet on a quarterback, so that was a very good call.
“The first one I thought was a cheap shot.”
According to a source, running back Marion Grice, currently on the practice squad of the San Diego Chargers since the beginning of the regular season, will sign a two-year deal to join the Arizona Cardinals' active roster, pending the passing of a physical.
Grice was a sixth-round selection by the Chargers in this year’s draft, but the team kept undrafted rookie free agent running back Branden Oliver on the active roster during final roster cutdowns and released Grice. The Houston native cleared waivers and was added to San Diego’s practice squad.
The move is a homecoming of sorts for Grice, who played collegiately at Arizona State. Grice had his best game of his young career against the Cardinals in the final preseason game, finishing with 79 rushing yards.
At 6-foot and 208 pounds, Grice is a hard runner who also does a nice job catching the ball out of the backfield.
During his Monday news conference following Arizona's 23-14 win against the San Francisco 49ers, coach Bruce Arians said the Cardinals will focus on young players this week before preparing for Denver on Oct. 5.
"The big thing right now is to get some young players some action for depth," he said. "We will not wear pads but we've got to get some guys some work, (quarterback) Logan (Thomas) in particular, Coop (guard Jonathan Cooper), (guard) Earl Watford. Get some guys some quality snaps -- (defensive linemen) Ed Stinson, Kareem (Martin) and Alameda (Ta'amu), and all of those guys who are all in backup roles, get them some work and get them up to speed.
"I would love to have both days in pads but we just can't do it."
- Rookie safety Deone Bucannon suffered a mild foot sprain and will probably miss this week and is expected to be ready next Wednesday, Arians said.
- Cooper cannot win the starting left guard job back this week, Arians said.
- Arians said it's tough to quantify how much better the offensive line is this year compared to last season. "I can't count that high," he said.
- Arians said signing Tommy Kelly looks as good as the John Abraham signing from a year ago.
- Arians hopes tight end Rob Housler will be back this week. He was inactive Sunday because of a hip injury.
- Safety Tony Jefferson missed Saturday's walk-through because of the birth of his son, Tony Jefferson Jr. Jefferson's girlfriend is "in some bad shape right now after it," Arians said. Jefferson had a career-high 10 tackles Sunday. "We all have our prayers for her, but he did come out and have probably his best game yet."
Cromartie suffered a bone bruise in the Cardinals' 23-14 win over San Francisco on Sunday, which has caused some swelling, Arizona coach Bruce Arians said.
The ligaments in Cromartie's surgically repaired left knee are intact.
"He'll be day-to-day this week and ready to roll next week," Arians said.
The nine-year veteran went down near the Cardinals' sideline in the third quarter and left the game after walking off under his own power. Cromartie said after the game that he hyperextended the knee.
Cromartie tore his left ACL and LCL in 2005 heading into his senior season at Florida State and hyperextended his right knee in October of last season with the New York Jets.
The 30-year-old backup quarterback, who was starting his second straight game, scrambled up the middle. Around the 42, Stanton began his slide with enough time for a defender to avoid making “imminent” contact, which protected him according to NFL rules.
“I was just like, ‘Really?’” Stanton said after the game. “I saw this guy and this other guy hit me from behind. I went up to Dan and asked him, ‘You’re from Michigan, bro. What’s going on?’ I was talking to him earlier and he was trying to make fun of Michigan State.
“But he went to Grand Valley.”
Cardinals coach Bruce Arians praised Stanton for the slide but wasn’t happy with Skuta’s hit.
“That was a legitimate cheap shot,” Arians said.
Rule 7, section 2, article 1 (d) (1-2) reads: “A defender must pull up when a runner begins a feet-first slide. This does not mean that all contact by a defender is illegal. If a defender has already committed himself, and the contact is unavoidable, it is not a foul unless the defender commits some other act, such as helmet-to-helmet contact or by driving his forearm or shoulder into the head or neck area of the runner.”
Skuta appeared to have already committed his momentum, but he looked far enough away to be able to contort his body in a fashion that would've avoided hitting Stanton above the shoulders.
After the hit, referee Gene Steratore asked Stanton if he was feeling OK.
Sunday was only Stanton’s sixth career start, but Steratore is one of the few referees to officiate one of Stanton’s previous starts, so the two had a prior rapport.
“He’s an awesome guy and he said, ‘Don’t lie to me if you’re not feeling good,’” Stanton recalled. “I said, ‘Gene, I’d never lie to you.’ I knew I was good. I didn’t see him coming, obviously.
“Sometimes it’s better when you don’t see him coming.”
On the next play, Stanton was rocked again when Niners linebacker Patrick Willis hit him as he threw. Willis was flagged for a 15-yard roughing the passer penalty for leading with his helmet, and Stanton was visibly shaken up following the play.
After the game, Stanton joked that’s why he wears pads and a mouth guard.
“I’m lucky I’ve got a really good guy back in Michigan who I get my mouthpieces from,” Stanton said. “They definitely worked today.”
Arians was upset with Stanton for diving headfirst after a 13-yard run with 21 seconds left in the first half. As he was diving, Stanton was hit on the side of the head by Niners defensive back Jimmie Ward. No flag was thrown, but Arians would’ve rather seen Stanton slide. Carson Palmer injured his right shoulder after he took on a safety shoulder first in Week 1.
“He’s tough as nails,” Arians said of Stanton. “I told him I wish he hadn’t gone down headfirst. That one scared me.”
GLENDALE, Ariz. -- It was difficult hearing Todd Bowles amid the celebratory clamor in the Cardinals locker room Sunday afternoon. The Arizona defensive coordinator spoke so softly his words arrived with the force of cotton balls hitting the floor. The same could not be said of the statement his players made 20 minutes earlier, shutting out the 49ers in the second half to facilitate a 23-14 victory that kept the Cardinals undefeated and alone atop the NFC West standings.
The defense's performance through the first three weeks might be the most improbable, yet impressive, on-field story of the young season. Thought to be decimated by the free-agent departure of inside linebacker Karlos Dansby, the year-long suspension of inside linebacker Daryl Washington, the season-ending loss of defensive end Darnell Dockett to a knee injury, and the possible retirement of edge rusher John Abraham (concussion issues), the unit has yet to surrender more than 17 points in a game and has not been scored upon in the fourth quarter.
There's no way of knowing whether Arizona's defense can play at this level for the entire season. After all, you don't lose your best cover linebacker, best rush linebacker, best interior pass-rusher and best edge rusher and not feel it at some point; and the threat of another injury is always a snap away, as witnessed Sunday when starting cornerback Antonio Cromartie did not return after leaving in the first half with a knee injury. But for now, players have adapted and adjusted.
"We know that bad things can happen, but you can't blink," said second-year cornerback Tyrann Mathieu
The San Francisco 49ers came out five wide without two tight ends, spreading Arizona's defense and allowing Colin Kaepernick to run for 45 yards in the half.
"They came out in five wide and hurry-up and threw the ball short. [Kaepernick] was precise. He was quick. I think that he just played great."
It was basketball on grass, veteran linebacker Larry Foote said, as San Francisco dinked and dunked their way to a 14-6 lead at halftime.
Of Kaepernick's 37 attempts Sunday, 30 were for within 10 yards or less of the line of scrimmage, according to ESPN Stats & Information. Arizona struggled to counter the hurry-up offense. Cornerback Patrick Peterson said the defensive calls came in wrong. At one point, the Cardinals were flagged for having 12 players on the field.
The 49ers' first two drives Sunday each went for 80 yards, ate up more than 8 minutes and resulted in touchdowns. They marched through Arizona's defense at will and while Kaepernick was able to find his lanes in the first half, running nine times for almost 50 yards, he threw 18 times for 116 yards.
That was Foote's introduction to Kaepernick, whom he had never played before then.
"He is that fast," Foote said. "Some guys take a minute to get going. Naw. He was slippery and fast."
At halftime, Arizona adjusted and regrouped.
"We talked about the first five minutes of the third quarter being huge," Cardinals coach Bruce Arians said. "We were down again and we had to make a stop defensively, make some first downs and hopefully get some points offensively, and we were able to get a touchdown. From there, it snowballed."
The Cardinals held the 49ers on their opening drive of the third quarter and scored on the offense's first possession. Arizona began winning first and second down, Campbell said, and it helped that the 49ers went away from the run game. They gave Frank Gore one carry in the second half, abandoning the run just 37 seconds into the half, according to ESPN Stats & Information.
Arizona held the 49ers to third-and-long four times in the second half. Two of them led to punts. Another one turned into third-and-23 on a penalty, which resulted in a blocked field goal on fourth down.
"We put pressure on them," Campbell said. "We got a little tighter in press coverage and took away the short throws and made him hold the ball a little longer. We tackled well in the run game and we got them in third and long."
The numbers of the second half told the story. Arizona held San Francisco to 16 rushing yards -- including Kaepernick to 9 -- in the final 30 minutes. The 49ers had to do everything by air but even that wasn't that effective, accounting for just six first of their seven first downs in the second half.
The Cardinals' defense limited the 49ers to one converted third down on 27 second-half plays.
"We [didn't] blink," Foote said. "We just knew on the sideline we need to get them on the ground and play basketball with them.
"Something's brewing in this locker room and hopefully we keep going."
The nine-year veteran went down near the Cardinals sideline in the third quarter and left the game after walking off under his own power. He did not return.
Cromartie said he didn't know how he hyperextended his knee.
"Everything's OK," Cromartie said in front of his locker after the Cardinals' 23-14 win over the San Francisco 49ers. "I will find out what's going on with it tomorrow. I really can't do anything standing here."
Cardinals coach Bruce Arians reiterated the uncertainty surrounding the injury.
"We don't know if it's reinjured, what the extent of it is," Arians said.
Cromartie tore his left ACL and LCL in 2005 heading into his senior season at Florida State Seminoles and hyperextended his right knee in October of last season with the New York Jets.
Cromartie later tweeted he's fine and will be ready for Arizona's next game, which comes after its bye week, at the Denver Broncos in Week 5.