GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Late in the third quarter of Field Goal Fest 2017, the quietest of sounds could be heard inside University of Phoenix Stadium. By late in the fourth, empty seats could be seen at every level, the crowd having given up on a slow, ugly divisional matchup.
But the crowd found life as the Arizona Cardinals’ offense came alive in the final 2:24 of overtime, marching 75 yards for Carson Palmer to hit Larry Fitzgerald on a game-winning 19-yard touchdown to escape 18-15 over the San Francisco 49ers.
What it means: There’s really no putting it any other way: This offense is costing the Cardinals wins. And it’s not just the offensive line. It’s Palmer’s throwing ill-timed and ill-advised interceptions. It’s easy drops on first-down plays. And, yes, it’s the offensive line allowing six sacks. The blame can’t be placed on a single individual or a single unit. The ineptitude and inefficiency of the Cardinals’ offense was spread all around Sunday.
What I liked: The offense was able to move the ball -- it just wasn’t able to finish. It had drives of 13, 10, 11 and nine plays. The problem was that just six points came from them. The run game worked better than last week in as far as it opened up the passing lanes. But, maybe most importantly, the offensive line gave Palmer more time against San Francisco than it did against Dallas, while also protecting him better. The offense appeared more diverse, with eight players making a catch.
What I didn’t like: Even though they were efficient and productive between the 20s, the Cardinals couldn’t find the end zone. And the one time they did in regulation, when Andre Ellington made a 12-yard catch falling out of the side of the end zone, the touchdown was overturned on replay. The Cardinals need to figure out a way to score not just from inside their 20, but inside their 30. Otherwise, the defense will soon resent the offense for not putting enough -- or any -- points on the board. Palmer made an ill-advised decision from the 4-yard line on Arizona’s opening drive, throwing as he was hit and going down. It was picked off, ending the touchdown hopes of a promising drive.
Fantasy fallout: If you had Palmer, Ellington, Fitzgerald or Chris Johnson, Sunday probably wasn’t a good day. But if you had kicker Phil Dawson, the points piled up as he made four field goals from 29, 43, 50 and 32 yards.
Ellington the Entertainer: Earlier this week, Cardinals coach Bruce Arians said Arizona's offense missed David Johnson everywhere except catching passes out of the backfield, and that was because Ellington had filled that role quite well. He continued to show off his receiving ability Sunday with nine catches for 86 yards; he would've added a great 12-yard touchdown catch were it not overturned after a review. His one-handed grab showed him to be the dynamic playmaker the Cardinals had hoped he’d be all along.
What’s next: Sitting at 2-2, the Cardinals travel to Philadelphia next Sunday. The Eagles will be coming off a West Coast trip after beating the Los Angeles Chargers.