Andre Ellington and Stepfan Taylor lead Cardinals to 24-13 win over Raiders

GLENDALE, Ariz. — Back in May, Cardinals head coach Bruce Arians said he wanted to get running back Andre Ellington 25-30 touches a game in 2014.

On Sunday, Arians got his wish. Ellington ran the ball 24 times and gained 88 yards. Ellington also caught six passes for 72 yards, as the Cardinals outlasted a very game Oakland Raiders team, 24-13 in Oakland, Calif.

Ellington topped every offensive player on the field, including the Raiders’ skill players, with those numbers.

With the win, the Cardinals move to 5-1 for the first time since 1976, when they were the St. Louis Cardinals.

Ellington, and his backfield mate Stepfan Taylor, were the No. 1 and No. 2 stars on offense. They touched the football a total of 44 times and gained 219 yards.

Let’s put their impact in perspective: the Cardinals had 25 first downs and 365 total yards on offense. Ellington and Taylor accounted for 219 of those yards.

Arizona had 123 yards rushing on the ground. The last time they had over 100 yards rushing as a team was in Week Two against the New York Giants, when they gained 124.

Taylor had six rushes for 23 yards coming into the game, but broke out and contributed in a big way. He had two touchdowns on the day, including his first ever touchdown run in the third quarter, which gave Arizona a 21-13 lead at the time.

Taylor ended up with 12 rushes for 40 yards – all of them hard yards – as he provided the bruising running back the Cardinals desperately needed in their offensive arsenal, especially inside the red zone, where the Cardinals were a perfect 2-2.

Speaking of perfect, kicker Chandler Catanzaro tied a rookie record [Rams’ kicker Greg Zuerlein, 2012] with his 15th straight field goal to start the season. Catanzaro hit a 41-yarder with 33 seconds left in the fourth quarter to seal the deal.

Quarterback Carson Palmer threw his first interception of the year, but otherwise, he managed a great game. Palmer was 22-of-31 for 253 yards, two touchdowns and the interception.

Palmer became the 18th player to ever throw 3,000 passes during the game.

The Cardinals talked all week about the Raiders not being an average 0-5 team [now 0-6]. They knew they were going to be in for a dogfight, and they got one at Coliseum.

Raiders quarterback Derek Carr might be a rookie, but he sure didn’t play like one. Oakland’s offense couldn’t get anything clicking deep, other than a 55-yard completion Carr made to wide receiver Brice Butler. Defensive coordinator Todd Bowles put his players in all types of exotic formations and blitzed Carr up the middle and off the edges, keeping him off kilter for a great majority of the game.

Despite being under duress for most of the game, Carr was only sacked once by linebacker Larry Foote. Even though the defense was only able to register that one sack, the constant threat of a sack was enough to suppress Carr and the Raiders offense.

Carr went 16-of-28 for 173 yards, zero touchdowns and zero interceptions. Running back Darren McFadden ran the ball 14 times for 48 yards – one of those rushes going for a one-yard touchdown.

When you talk offense, take a look at the third down numbers and it tells the tale: Arizona was 9-15 on that down, while Oakland struggled, going 4-12.

The Raiders also hurt themselves with penalties, which are always crucial to a team’s success or their failure. Oakland had eight penalties for a total of 74 yards. Conversely, Arizona had six penalties for 43 yards.

Coming into Sunday’s game, the Cardinals were the worst team in the NFL when it came down to red zone efficiency. They converted just 5-of-15 red zone opportunities. The offense flipped that percentage on its side, with those two conversions.

The Cardinals remain in sole possession of first place in the NFC West, and will now return home to get ready for a visit next Sunday from the 5-1 Philadelphia Eagles, who are on a bye this week.



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