Cardinals' hot start fuels gaudy offensive numbers
TEMPE, Ariz. (AP) With all these points, the Arizona Cardinals are hard to ignore.
Gaudy one-sided victories early in the season have gained national attention for a team that's opened an early two-game lead in the NFC West.
The Cardinals are 3-0 after a 47-7 blowout of division rival San Francisco on Sunday.
Through three games, their 126 total points are by far the most in franchise history and most in the NFL this season. Twenty of those points have come from the defense, and one on a kickoff return, but the offensive points are still high.
The 126 points are tied for the fourth-most in NFL history through a season's first three games.
Arizona's 17 touchdowns are tied for third-most in league history through three games. No team has scored as many touchdowns since the Dallas Cowboys totaled 18 in 1968. To put it in perspective, the Cardinals scored six touchdowns in their first three games last season and took six games to reach 17.
Arizona already has multiple (two) games with 40 or more points, the first time that's happened since 1985 and first time it has happened in back-to-back games since 1969. Seven different players have scored on offense.
And yet head coach Bruce Arians expressed tempered enthusiasm for the team's Sunday performance, rating it a ''6 1/2 or 7'' when asked where his offense is at present.
''We still had too many penalties, turned the ball over, missed a couple of hots (reads),'' Arians said. ''We still haven't scratched it offensively in my mind, how good we can be.''
The Cardinals host the St. Louis Rams (1-2) in another NFC West matchup on Sunday.
They have had it hammered into them for months that the outside hype should be ignored.
''I think the best thing our players do right now is they go day to day,'' Arians said. ''They let everybody talk about all that other crap, December and January and all the stats, but we just go to work each day. And if we can stay that way, we'll be all right.''
Arians considers a combined total of six running plays of 15 yards or more and pass plays of 22 yards or more a success in a game. His team had eight offensive plays for 20 yards or more on Sunday.
''We want to be explosive with our team speed,'' he said.
One key to the offensive production is the play of quarterback Carson Palmer, who has won nine straight starts dating to last season - the longest active streak in the NFL - and has nine touchdown passes in three games. That's the second-most in franchise history through the first three games of a season.
''We keep winning the coin toss,'' Arians said. ''That always helps. We like to start on offense.''
The Arizona running game is humming along at 374 yards on 90 carries, with 219 for veteran Chris Johnson, whom no team claimed until the Cardinals signed him in mid-August.
''We're better up front. We're much better at tight end and our receivers are blocking extremely well,'' Arians said.
Guard Jonathan Cooper said the main focus going into this season was to be a running team on offense, and that playing with a lead has helped the offense sustain success.
''It's just a versatility,'' Cooper said. ''We can run the ball, we can pass it deep, we've got a screen game and all that kind of thing. We provide a lot of offensive weapons that the defense has to focus on, which really opens it up for opportunities to score.''
NOTES: The Cardinals came away from Sunday's game with some ''bumps and bruises,'' Arians said, but none that will cost players any game time. ... LG Mike Iupati (knee injury) and RB Andre Ellington (knee), both inactive for Week 3, will be limited in practice this week. ... Arians lamented the presence of 49ers fans in the seats at University of Phoenix Stadium Sunday. He said the crowd noise affected his offensive linemen on snap counts and the Cardinals had to switch to a silent count. ''We would hope that the visiting team wouldn't get that many tickets where we would have to use a silent count at home,'' Arians said.
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