Cardinals Road Dominance Traced to Turnover Success – Sports Illustrated

Updated:

Original:

The Cardinals are plus-17 in road turnover ratio and have had no turnovers in their last five road games.

As a team or individually, the Cardinals are piling up achievements this season. But the most remarkable might be what they are accomplishing in the turnover department on the road.

In Sunday’s 33-22 victory over the Bears, not only did the Cardinals have four takeaways, but they also had no turnovers for the fifth consecutive game away from State Farm Stadium.

There have been only four other teams in history to do that: The 2005 Seattle Seahawks and 2019 New Orleans Saints were turnover-free in six straight games, while the 2015 San Francisco 49ers and 2016 New England Patriots did it five times.

The Cardinals had one turnover in each of their first two road games of the season against Tennessee and Jacksonville.

Meanwhile, the four takeaways gave them 19 on the road, which equates to a plus-17 turnover ratio.

The Cardinals have two road games remaining against Detroit and Dallas. Only five times since 1988 has a team finished a season with a plus-17 ratio or better on the road: 2013 Kansas City Chiefs, plus-19; 1991 Philadelphia Eagles, plus-18; the 1988 Minnesota Vikings and 2010 and 2019 New England Patriots, plus-17.

The all-time record is plus-25 by Washington in 1983 and the Bears in 1936.

Overall, the Cardinals entered Sunday tied for fifth in the NFL at plus-8. They are currently plus-12, which for now is second in the league behind the plus-13 Indianapolis Colts. The Patriots are plus-10 and the Bills plus-8. Those teams play on Monday night.

The four takeaways Sunday were notable for the field position they provided, gaining possession twice at the Chicago 28-yard line and also at the 12- and 15-yard lines. Following those interceptions, the result was three touchdowns and a field goal.

The offense ran a total of 17 plays for 81 yards in those possessions.

Also noteworthy was that the interception return yards totaled 121, which is 47.1 percent of the 257 offensive yards they gained in the game. Safety Budda Baker had a 77-yard return, followed by defensive lineman Zach Allen (25), cornerback Byron Murphy Jr. (13) and safety Jalen Thompson (6).

Baker wasn’t surprised the defense made some big plays because of the field conditions. “It was pretty slippery out there,” he said.

Head coach Kliff Kingsbury said, “I thought the defense was tremendous.”

Allen’s one-handed interception of an Andy Dalton screen pass led to the Cardinals’ final points of the game and came several plays after they had to settle for a field goal following two failures on second- and third-and-goals from the 1-yard line.

Asked about Allen’s athletic play, quarterback Kyler Murray said, “Honestly, I was really mad when everything was happening, so I didn’t get to see it. I ended up seeing it on the Jumbotron. It was pretty impressive. He was pretty smooth with it for sure.”

Clearly, the 23 points that followed the takeaways negated the statistical advantage the Bears had in the game. Those possessions lasted a total of only 9:42, which helped the Bears win the time of possession battle 34:45 to 25:15.

While averaging more yards per play than Chicago (5.0-4.6), the Cardinals had only 51 offensive plays to 71 for the Bears. Chicago had 329 total yards, 26 first downs, were 4-for-4 on fourth down and 3-for-3 in the red zone.

The Cardinals managed only 14 first downs and were 2-for-4 in the red zone.

However, the end result was what mattered as the Cardinals became the third team in history to win seven consecutive road games in a season by at least 10 points.