Arians gets his close win, Ravens another tough loss
GLENDALE, Ariz. (AP) Bruce Arians wanted to show that his team could win a close game. The Arizona Cardinals gave him one.
The Cardinals barely held off luckless Baltimore on Monday night, 26-18, clinching the win with Tony Jefferson's interception in the end zone with 6 seconds to play.
''To be there and to kind of be nervous,'' Arizona quarterback Carson Palmer said, ''and to have those jitterbugs on the sidelines as you're waiting, it's good to have that feeling and come out and win.''
Arizona kept a grip on its NFC West lead, going to 5-2, while the Ravens added to their worst start in franchise history, falling to 1-6. The eight-point loss to Arizona was the most one-sided of their defeats.
''We probably didn't play well enough to win the football game,'' Baltimore quarterback Joe Flacco said, ''but we are always in them. It is going to be a fight down to the end and we are not giving up.''
Arizona's Chris Johnson rushed for 122 yards, including a 26-yard touchdown run.
But his most memorable came when he landed on top of the belly of 335-pound Brandon Williams, then got up and kept running for a 62-yard gain.
''That is something you learn coming up from little league,'' Johnson said, ''keep playing until the whistle blows.''
But Baltimore coach John Harbaugh said the whistle didn't need to blow, the play should have been ruled dead because progress had stopped.
''The forward progress was stopped,'' Harbaugh said. ''If you hit him in that situation, then you're going to get fined and penalized. ... The play was 3 seconds. He was stopped. He was sitting there, so we shouldn't have to hit him there. It would've been a dangerous play.''
Here are some things we learned from the Cardinals' victory over Baltimore:
HARD TO HEAR: The Ravens say they had trouble with their headsets throughout the game, and it was really bad on the final drive.
`I don't know why they were going out on that drive,'' Harbaugh said. ''(Offensive coordinator) Marc (Trestman) had yelled and we couldn't get the personnel groups. Guys had to run the personnel groups on and off. All of those things are challenging with the phones out.''
Flacco said the combination of stadium noise and the phone issues made it doubly difficult.
''It was too hectic out there,'' Flacco said. ''We were running guys in and out. It was just too much communication going on for the amount of time that we had left.'''
THE BIG PICK: The Cardinals lead the NFL with 14 interceptions, and none were bigger than the one Jefferson got in the final seconds on Monday night.
Flacco was looking for big tight end Crockett Gillmore, thinking it would be a nice mismatch.
''With the matchup, I thought he might get on top of the guy,'' Flacco said, ''but it just worked out a little bit different. So he (Jefferson) ended up in a better position.''
Moments earlier, Crockett had outjumped Jefferson to catch one that put Baltimore at the Arizona 4-yard line.
''That jump ball at the end, I was kind of looking back the whole time,'' Jefferson said. ''I wanted that pick, but I didn't try to force it and it ended up coming to me at the end.''
THE BADGER DELIVERS: Safety Tyrann Mathieu had perhaps his best game of the season, including his first sack. Mathieu had seven tackles, three tackles for loss, a quarterback hit and a pass defensed.
''Man it was fun,'' he said. ''I have been begging for that all year and it was great I had the opportunity to get to that passer today.''
C.J.'S 100: Chris Johnson topped 100 yards rushing for the third time this season. The last Cardinal to do that was Edgerrin James in 2007.
Johnson signed a one-year deal with Arizona late in the preseason.
''He's still got it, I'll tell you that,'' Palmer said. ''That defense notices it. Every defense we line up against knows when he's in the backfield and when he's not. Just a great player.''
BIG BLOCK: Baltimore made it an exciting finish when Asaka Jackson burst up the middle to block Drew Butler's punt, setting up the touchdown and two-point conversion that made it an eight-point game.
''It was a great feeling,'' Jackson said, ''especially on being on Monday night and being and being able to make a play in front of the world that helped us get back in the game. ... But there aren't any moral victories in this game, so it still stings that we lost.''
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