When you think of both the Baltimore Ravens and the Arizona Cardinals, defense is the part of the team that quickly comes to mind. That should remain the same after a dogfight of a game on Monday Night Football between the two teams, as the only turnover of the game sealed the victory for the Cardinals in the waning seconds.
The Cardinals started out with the ball in this one and flew down the field, making quick work to get to the Ravens side of the field. But on a critical third and six, Carson Palmer was sacked by Ravens inside linebacker C.J. Mosley for a loss and then Chandler Catanzaro would miss his only field goal of the night as he missed wide right on the 55 yard attempt.
The Ravens would start at their own 45 yard line after the miss and Kyle Juszczyk and Justin Forsett both picked up 11 yards each on the Ravens first two plays from scrimmage. Just two plays later, Frostee Rucker would get an unnecessary roughness penalty to bring the Ravens into the red zone, where Justin Tucker would not miss the field goal, as he was able to connect between the posts from 44 yards away as the drive had ended with Rucker getting revenge for his penalty by sacking Joe Flacco for a loss of 11 yards.
The Cardinals quickly responded by going 80 yards in just three plays. Palmer to Jermaine Gresham for 21 yards. Palmer to Michael Floyd for a gain of 33 yards. Then Chris Johnson took it easily up the field for a gain of 26 yards and the touchdown. There simply is not a way to make a drive look any easier. The Cardinals seemed like they were going to make quick work of the Ravens at this point in the contest.
After each team punted, the Ravens decided to bounce back into action. Flacco found Jeremy Ross for a key third down conversion before throwing deep to Steve Smith Sr. for a gain of 29 yards. With just under four minutes left in the half, Forsett would be the man to cash in the Ravens first touchdown of the evening from 14 yards out to give the Ravens a 10-7 lead.
The Ravens then forced a three and out after Palmer was only able to find Larry Fitzgerald for a nine yard reception and two incomplete passes. But on the ensuing punt, Jeremy Ross did what he is sometimes known for doing. He fumbled the ball on the kick return. Justin Bethel was in the right place at the right time and recovered it at the Ravens 25 yard line. But wait, there's more. Asa Jackson of the Ravens was called for unnecessary roughness this time, and the Cardinals would keep the ball just 12 yards shy of the end zone. It took several tries and a few defensive pass interference calls, but Michael Floyd ended up catching a three yard touchdown on third and goal as the Cardinals retook the lead 14-10 right before the half.
The Cardinals would score on their first possession of the second half, but Bruce Arians had to be disappointed when he was only able to get three points instead of seven. Catanzaro would not miss this time though as he hit the short 21 yard attempt to extend the Cardinals lead to seven points.
The next Cardinals drive would have the same result, with Catanzaro making a 21 yard field goal, but this time making it a 20-10 lead. Chris Johnson had the big play on this drive, as his 62 yard rush was great, but he was tackled just eight yards shy of the goal line and they were denied again.
The next time the Cardinals drove down into the red zone though they would not be denied. John Brown caught the touchdown pass from four yards out as they finally got back into the end zone and for the first time anyone scored a touchdown in the second half. Catanzaro's extra point missed as it hit of the upright, and with 8:08 left in the game it felt like it was firmly in the Cardinals' hands.
But not so fast. Asa Jackson made up for his earlier penalty by blocking a Cardinals punt with just 4:40 left in the game. Raheem Mostert recovered the punt five yards shy of the end zone but was tackled at the one yard line. Juszczyk would catch the touchdown pass and the Ravens were back in business.
They got the ball back with 1:53 left in the game. The first big catch was by Crockett Gillmore for nine yards for a fourth down conversion. A few plays later Chris Givens had his only reception of the night, but he would make it count. He got 31 yards on the reception and got the ball all the way to the Cardinals 27 yard line and he went out of bounds. Flacco would find Gillmore again to get the ball to the four yard line, before spiking the ball to stop the clock with 18 seconds remaining. But that was as close as the Ravens would get in this one. Tony Jefferson made the key interception as Flacco was looking for Gillmore again.
Palmer would take a knee on the final play in the victory formation before they all shook hands and headed back to the locker rooms.
Passing: Carson Palmer (20/29, 275 yards, 2 TD)
Rushing: Chris Johnson (18 carries, 122 yards, 1 TD)
Receiving: Steve Smith Sr. (5 catches, 78 yards)
This one really hurts the Baltimore Ravens (1-6) odds of making the playoffs. In week eight, they will be back in Charm City to face the San Diego Chargers (2-5) as both teams are hungry for a win. Meanwhile the Arizona Cardinals (5-2) have found their second win of October, and will hit the road to start November. Next up for them is a trip to see Lake Erie as they will face the Cleveland Browns (2-5). That should be yet another defensive struggle.