The Arizona Cardinals defeated the New Orleans Saints 42-34 in a “Thursday Night Football” game that actually had some offense, which is a nice change of pace this season. The Cardinals moved to 3-4 and snapped an eight-game home losing streak, while the Saints dropped to 2-5.
The matchup was even for most of the first half, with a tie game with less than three minutes left in the second quarter. Then the scale drastically leaned toward the Cardinals, who scored three touchdowns in that time.
The visiting defense shook quarterback Andy Dalton and his offense with back-back interception returns that followed an offensive touchdown from Arizona.
Going into the half with 22 unanswered points and a 28-14 lead was more than a solid start for the Cardinals to build on in the second half.
The Saints came out of the half and scored a field goal and a score was definitely crucial there, but they needed to be putting up seven points opposed to three in order to catch up.
To make matters worse for the Saints, the Cardinals scored another touchdown in the third quarter, going up 35-17 with a 5-yard touchdown pass from Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray to Greg Dortch.
The Saints made it a game in the fourth with a 17-yard touchdown from Juwan Johnson.
It was a touchdown party tonight and the Cardinals put up another halfway through the fourth quarter thanks to the five-yard rush from Eno Benjamin.
If you think that’s where the touchdowns ended, think again. This high-scoring game saw another one from the Saints, making it a 42-31 game thanks to a pass from Dalton to Juwan Johnson.
A Saints field goal with less than a minute to go made it an eight-point game and was followed by a an unsuccessful onside kick try that sealed the win for Arizona.
Why the Cardinals won
To put it simply, they were the better team. They were more complete on all sides of the ball and picked out the opposing team’s weaknesses and capitalized on them.
The Cardinals offense had a new-found spark with DeAndre Hopkins returning from his suspension. Hopkins finished the night with 10 receptions for 103 yards.
The defense deserves a lot of credit for the win, intercepting Andy Dalton three times. All players got involved, with Antonio Hamilton, Isaiah Simmons and Marco Williams all having interceptions.
Why the Saints lost
Two interceptions for returns is never going to set you up for a win and the offense just could not recover from the Cardinals explosive end of the second quarter, where they scored three touchdowns.
The Saints offense lacks consistency and while things were not all bad, they needed to establish a steady rhythm and were unable to do so.
With Jameis Winston out, Andy Dalton took the reigns and when he was good he was good, throwing for 4 touchdowns and 361 yards yards, but when he was bad he was handing the other team touchdowns.
The first pick six of the first half really made a statement, while also shifting the momentum toward the Cardinals. The 38-yard interception return from Marco Wilson gave the Cardinals their first lead of the game, a lead they would keep for the rest of the game.
Play of the game
Since I already mentioned one pick six as the turning point, it seems only fair to give the second pick six some attention as well.
With less than a minute left in the half, Isaiah Simmons intercepted Andy Dalton, marking the quarterback’s third pick of the half. Simmons ran it to the house for 56 yards, extending the lead to make it 28-14.
The Saints will host the Las Vegas Raiders, who currently stand at 1-4 and are coming off a loss to the Kansas City Chiefs, on Oct. 30.
The Cardinals will head to Minnesota to face the Vikings in Week 8. The Vikings are quietly off to a great start to their season and are in first place in their division as it stands heading into the weekend.