NFL GAME RECAP

Cardinals defense holds off Ravens late rally

The Sports Xchange

October 26, 2015 at 8:51 pm.

Oct 26, 2015; Glendale, AZ, USA; Arizona Cardinals quarterback Carson Palmer (3) hands off to running back Chris Johnson (23) during the second half against the Baltimore Ravens at University of Phoenix Stadium. Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

Oct 26, 2015; Glendale, AZ, USA; Arizona Cardinals quarterback Carson Palmer (3) hands off to running back Chris Johnson (23) during the second half against the Baltimore Ravens at University of Phoenix Stadium. Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

GLENDALE, Ariz. — The Arizona Cardinals might be on the verge of solving their losing ways on “Monday Night Football.” The Baltimore Ravens, meanwhile, still have their issues.

The Cardinals got two touchdown passes from quarterback Carson Palmer and a 122-yard rushing effort and a touchdown from Chris Johnson to down the Ravens 26-18 Monday night at University of Phoenix Stadium.

Entering the game, Arizona was 2-8 in its previous 10 Monday night appearances.

The Cardinals (5-2) maintain their control in the NFC West. They head to Cleveland next week before getting to rest up for their bye in Week 9.

Baltimore (1-6) lost its third consecutive game, but once again had a chance to make something happen at the end, even though it was outgained by the Cardinals by a two-to-one margin.

A blocked punt and recovery set up a 1-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Joe Flacco to fullback Kyle Juszczyk with 4:26 left to play, and a successful two-point conversion cut Arizona’s lead to eight points.

After forcing the Cardinals to punt again, the Ravens got the ball back at their own 24-yard line with 1:53 remaining.

They would need to score a touchdown and convert another two-point attempt to at least force overtime, and they had gained just 204 total yards of offense compared to Arizona’s 409 at that point.

A 31-yard pass deep down the sideline to wide receiver Kamar Aiken put Baltimore at the Cardinals’ 27-yard line. A 23-yard completion over the middle to tight end Crockett Gillmore moved the Ravens to the 4.

With 13 seconds to go, Flacco looked for Gillmore again — this time in the end zone — but Cardinals defensive back Tony Jefferson intercepted the pass — Arizona’s league-leading 12th pick of the season.

Flacco was 26 of 40 for 252 yards with a touchdown and an interception. Palmer was 20 of 29 for 275 yards with no interceptions.

In three of their four losses coming into Monday’s game, the Ravens held a lead in the fourth quarter. They also had a chance to tie or take the lead in the final two minutes in each of their first six games.

The Cardinals built a 14-10 lead at halftime, catching a break when special teams ace Justin Bethel forced and recovered a fumble on a punt by Ravens returner Jeremy Ross. The turnover gave Arizona the ball at the Baltimore 12-yard line, and four plays and two defensive pass-interference penalties later, Palmer drilled a 3-yard pass to wide receiver Michael Floyd for the go-ahead score with 1:01 remaining until intermission.

The Ravens had scored first, utilizing a missed 55-yard field-goal attempt by Arizona’s Chandler Catanzaro and moving 29 yards on eight plays to put Justin Tucker in position to kick a 44-yard field goal for a 3-0 lead.

The Cardinals’ high-powered offense, which entered the game leading the NFL in scoring, needed only three plays to claim the lead. First, Palmer hit tight end Jermaine Gresham for a 21-yard gain. Then he found Floyd deep down the right sideline for a 33-yard pickup. Johnson took it from there, running to his right before changing gears and running left and breaking free for a 26-yard touchdown scamper.

Baltimore answered with an eight-play, 84-yard drive capped by a 14-yard scoring run by running back Justin Forsett, who wasn’t touched on the play. That gave the Ravens a 10-7 lead before the Ross fumble.

NOTES: Cardinals WR John Brown played Monday night despite being listed as questionable with a hamstring issue. … Monday night’s game marked the 99th consecutive sellout at University of Phoenix Stadium, including preseason and postseason games. The Cardinals have sold out every game played at the stadium since it opened in 2006. … Baltimore QB Joe Flacco played in his 119th consecutive game, the third-longest streak among activate quarterbacks. … Arizona WR Larry Fitzgerald finished with three catches for 39 yards. He needs 13 yards to move past Irving Fryar (12,785) for 17th on the NFL’s all-time receiving yards list. … The Ravens entered the game with the fewest sacks (27) allowed in the NFL since the start of the 2014 season. Flacco was sacked three times Monday, one of them the first sack by veteran LB Dwight Freeney in an Arizona uniform.

 

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