You could make a case – and a compelling one, at that – that no NFL team has been hit harder by the injury bug this season than the Arizona Cardinals.
Darnell Dockett (torn ACL), Carson Palmer (torn ACL), Calais Campbell (MCL sprain), John Abraham (concussion), Matt Shaughnessy (knee) – it’s been crazy. Throw in Daryl Washington (suspended) and Jonathan Dwyer (arrested), and it’s downright ridiculous.
Nevertheless, the Cardinals are 9-1. That’s the best record in the NFL, and that’s the franchise’s best start since 1948.
Given the injuries and off-the-field issues, isn’t this great start surprising? Just a little bit?
“Honestly, I’m not surprised at all,” Cardinals cornerback Patrick Peterson said on The Doug Gottlieb Show. “Last year, I think we won seven of the last nine in that last nine-game stretch. We was pretty hot last year, and we believe if we would’ve gotten in the playoffs, we could’ve made some noise. So we’re just feeding off that energy and that confidence that we had last season.”
The Cardinals went 10-6 last year but finished third in the NFC West and didn’t make the playoffs. In some ways, that might have been a good thing, as hunger isn’t an issue. In fact, the Cardinals might be hungrier than ever.
“We’re definitely hungry,” Peterson said. “We definitely felt like we were one of those teams that should have been in the playoffs. But due to the system, it is what it is. Winning 10 games and not making it is absurd. It was kind of frustrating. But at the end of the day, we didn’t want to leave our season in anyone else’s hands (in terms of whether) we make the playoffs or not. We want to make sure we win the games that were supposed to win and win as many games as we need to win to be the leaders and the division champs.”
Arizona has won six straight games and is third in the league in scoring defense (17.6 points per game). Peterson, however, has been one of the most penalized players in football this year.
Why is that?
“I think the game, the way it’s officiated, they made an emphasis of make sure these guys are playing within the rules; make sure these guys are playing within that five-yard premises,” Peterson said. “They just want to really, really crack down on defenses because obviously they want to see points. This is an offensive league. But at the end of the day, I want to continue playing my game. I’m a physical corner. I’m going to continue to play physical. I don’t know why it seems like the refs are after me, but I have to play the game not worrying about those guys. I have to go out there and play to win. If they call the flag, they call the flag. I have to move forward. I can’t dwell on it.”
Arizona plays at Seattle (6-4) this Sunday at 4:05 p.m. ET. A win would give the Cardinals a commanding four-game lead over the defending Super Bowl champions.