Despite a bad shoulder, Cardinals WR Michael Floyd caught six passes for 193 yards, including this 91-yard TD after running by Jags CB Will Blackmon.
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — The Cardinals’ 27-14 victory over the Jaguars on Sunday didn’t garner much national attention. Even fans in Jacksonville paid little mind to their hometown team, occupying about half the seats at EverBank Field.
Too bad, because no one who watched the game felt cheated out of three hours, at least if they have a healthy appreciation for the strange and unique.
Where else could you have seen a player have a chunk of hair ripped out? A trick play or two? An interception negated because of a timeout? A taunting penalty that led to a touchdown? A fumble that was reviewed but shouldn’t have been? A 91-yard TD pass? A quarterback throwing for 419 yards, almost half of which went to a receiver with a sore shoulder?
The only thing that went according to script is the Cards (6-4) won to stay in the playoff picture, and the Jags fell to 1-9.
“At the end of the day, you’re going to need some ugly wins,” offensive tackle Eric Winston said. “You’re going to need a couple of them over the course of a 16-game season. They’re not all going to be pretty.”
The game was bizarre long before Jaguars defensive end Jason Babin yanked out a chunk of running back Andre Ellington’s hair late in the third quarter, then held the braids aloft, as if he was making an offering to a higher being.
Didn’t even hurt, said Ellington, confirming that it was real hair and not extensions.
“It’s kind of an in-the-moment thing,” Ellington said. “You don’t feel that stuff when you get tackled. I saw him (Babin) holding it and I was like, ‘C’mon, man.’ I think he was trying to grab it and pull it out.”
The Jaguars entered the game with the worst rush defense in the NFL yet held Arizona to 14 yards, tied for the fourth-fewest in a single game in team history.
So the Cardinals passed, something which they had done with little efficiency all season. Quarterback Carson Palmer completed 30 of 42 attempts for 419 yards and two touchdowns.
“Carson by far played his best game,” coach Bruce Arians said.
It was the first time this season Palmer didn’t have a pass intercepted, and he had Arians to thank for that. One was negated when Arians called a timeout before the snap, with Arizona leading by just 10 at the time.
The Cardinals had the wrong personnel grouping on the field for the play called, Palmer said.
“I knew it was a bad play from the get-go, but I’ve been told to run what’s called,” Palmer said. “B.A. (Arians) realized we ran the wrong group on the field and did a great job saving my butt.”
The Cardinals backsides were saved a few minutes before when Patrick Peterson fumbled a punt but was able to wrest the ball away in the scrum that followed.
The Jaguars were mistakenly allowed to challenge the ruling, which was upheld.
“You trying to get me fined again?” Arians said, when asked about it. “As far as I know, it’s a non-reviewable play.”
Arizona has struggled with third downs and big plays this year.
But on third-and-10 from the 9 in the third quarter, Palmer hit receiver Michael Floyd on a mid-range pass. Floyd shed one potential tackler and sprinted 91 yards for a touchdown.
It was the Cardinals longest pass play since 1988, and it gave them a 24-14 lead with 7:29 remaining, Floyd, who played with a sprained shoulder, caught six passes for 193 yards, a career high.
“That’s what I expect out of myself, being a big, physical runner,” Floyd said, “not to get tackled by the first guy who hits me.”