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Takeaways from Arizona Cardinals’ Triumph Over Oakland Raiders

October 21st, 2014 at 6:30 AM
By Steve Smith

It was not a thing of beauty but the Arizona Cardinals don't care.

The Red Birds recorded a 24-13 victory over the winless Oakland Raiders on Sunday and although it was not a game for the time capsule, a win is a win is a win in the NFL. All that counts is that you claim victory and move on.

Ask any coach.

Here are some takeaways from the game that lifted Arizona's slate to 5-1. They are all alone in first place in the NFC West:

1. Workhorse Andre - The question that always surrounds talented halfback Andre Ellington is whether he is durable enough to carry a large workload. Well, Sunday he had his most carries (24) of the season to date and the University of Clemson product responded with 88 rushing yards and six receptions for 72 yards.

While Ellington was doing most of the work, Stepfan Taylor grabbed a pair of touchdowns in the red zone. Ellington has been playing through a foot injury all season and now has sore ribs following the Raiders contest. He is still the number one running back but don't be surprised if Taylor exceeds his 12 carries this week against Philadelphia.

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Carson Palmer Leads Arizona Cardinals Past Oakland Raiders, 24-13; Red Birds Now 5-1

October 20th, 2014 at 4:54 AM
By Steve Smith

This was quite a homecoming for Arizona Cardinals quarterback Carson Palmer.

Palmer, who was dealt by the Oakland Raiders to Arizona following the 2012 season, threw for 253 yards and two touchdowns to lead the Red Birds to a 24-13 triumph over Oakland Sunday afternoon at sunny Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum.

The victory lifted the Cards to 5-1 while the Raiders slipped to 0-6 and have now lost 12 straight.

The Cardinals sit all alone atop the NFC West and are off to their best start since 1976.

"It's just good to be in the driver's seat in our division," wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald told espn.com. "It's a long year. It's only Week 7. We have a long way to go."

Although Palmer threw Arizona's first interception of the season (Charles Woodson), he was steady in the pocket as always. Palmer was sacked just once and completed 22 of 31 passes. His 33-yard scoring strike to Michael Floyd gave Arizona a 14-0 lead midway through the second quarter.

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NFL Game Preview: Arizona Cardinals at Oakland Raiders

October 18th, 2014 at 7:12 AM
By Steve Smith

The Arizona Cardinals are riding high with a 4-1 record in first place in the NFC West, so it's important that they don't overlook the 0-5 Oakland Raiders when the two teams play on Sunday at the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum.

The Raiders played the San Diego Chargers very tough last week before falling 31-28, so they will not be an easy opponent. Cardinals' quarterback Carson Palmer looks healthy again after dealing with a nerve issue in his throwing shoulder for most of the season.

Palmer returned last week and looked poised in the pocket, throwing for 250 yards and two touchdowns against the Redskins. One TD pass went to Larry Fitzgerald who looked like his old self, hauling in six receptions for a season-high 98 yards,

Expect the Red Birds to attack Oakland's shaky defense via the ground first and then through the air. Andre Ellington (305 rushing yards) may be in line for his best outing of the season against a Raiders defense that has allowed over 100 rushing yards in all but one game this season. Ellington is also a talented receiver out of the backfield and is on pace for over 50 receptions in 2014.

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Time on the Playing Field Increasing for Arizona Cardinals’ Deone Bucannon

October 17th, 2014 at 6:35 AM
By Steve Smith

The Arizona Cardinals drafted Deone Bucannon as a safety in the first round of this year's NFL Draft.

Although he's listed as a strong safety, the Washington State product has been playing more as an inside linebacker or "dollar" linebacker where he can blitz and also help with run support. Bucannon has also covered tight ends this season.

His versatility has helped him increase his playing time on the field; he played a season-high 82 percent of the defensive snaps in the Redskins contest.

"In the beginning, we were just playing him on pass downs," defensive backs coach Nick Rapone told azcentral.com. "But he's so physical and he can read the surface of the offensive line. Todd (Todd Bowles, defensive coordinator) has kept him in on run downs in the nickel. It's been his progress. He's such a physical player at 214 pounds."

"It really should be a mismatch, when you talk about weight, going against 300-pound linemen, but you also picked up a guy who runs 4.49 (in the 40-yard dash)."

Bucannon is fourth on the Red Birds in tackles with 25, including three tackles for a loss.

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Chandler Catanzaro Named NFC Special Teams Player of the Week

October 16th, 2014 at 5:43 AM
By Steve Smith

Rookie kicker Chandler Catanzaro has been perfect so far for the Arizona Cardinals.

The University of Clemson product has connected on 14 of 14 field goals this season, including three last Sunday against the Washington Redskins in Arizona's 30-20 triumph. For his performance against Washington, Catanzaro has been named the NFC Special Teams Player of the Week.

The undrafted free agent added three extra points against the Redskins. Catanzaro beat out veteran Jay Feely during training camp and the Red Birds are reaping the benefits this season.

Catanzaro's 14 straight to begin the season leaves him just one away from tying the NFL rookie record of 15 set by Rams kicker Greg Zuerlein in 2012.

Not only that, but the rookie has been tremendous on his kickoffs – on Sunday alone, he forced touchbacks on six of his seven boots.

The Cards have a real winner here.

"I guess I’m the guy here,” Catanzaro told the team's website. “I have to be a rock out there and be confident no matter what happens, no matter what comes my way. I know there’s probably going to be some adversity throughout the season, but I’m looking forward to being the rock out there that my team needs me to be.”

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