If anyone can shrug at another setback, it’s the Cardinals

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No one can be completely sure what happens to the NFC-leading Cardinals after losing another quarterback in victory Thursday night at St. Louis, but be sure of this: if they are going down, they are going down in a blaze of blitzes and deep passes, and they are going to inflict serious pain and stress and bruising on their foes before they leave.

Make no mistake: 11-3 Arizona will be a home underdog to 9-4 Seattle next Sunday, especially if the knee injury suffered by quarterback Drew Stanton is serious. Stanton will undergo an MRI, Cardinals coach Bruce Arians said after Arizona’s 12-6 win.

If Stanton is out for an extended stretch, the Cardinals will turn to third-year pro Ryan Lindley or rookie Logan Thomas against the Seahawks, who can earn the all-important head-to-head tiebreaker over Arizona with a win next week. Lindley — who relieved Stanton Thursday night — looks the favorite to get the call, considering Arians seems hesitant to go with Thomas, a fourth-round pick from Virginia Tech.

“He will be a good player some day but he’s not ready for this yet,” Arians said of Thomas after Thursday night’s game, according to Darren Urban of AzCardinals.com.

Lindley or Thomas — those are the options. That’s it. There are no solutions in free agency. The Cards might add a passer to the practice squad, but only as a break-glass-in-case-of-emergency option.

This is the Cardinals’ hand to play.

The good news? They’re not exactly drawing dead.

Their defense — that aggressive, unshakable defense — is something special. The Cardinals’ collective competitive spirit shines through, too. They can take a punch.

There’s also the matter of the good work the Cardinals have done to this point. They will finish no worse than 11-5, and that’s if they lose to Seattle and at San Francisco in the next two weeks. However, the 49ers aren’t exactly playing like contenders, and the Seahawks only recently have gotten back to top form.

Also, several other NFC playoff candidates have head-to-head matchups left to play, beginning with Sunday night’s Cowboys-Eagles tilt. The Dallas-Philadelphia loser will have five losses — and both clubs have already lost to the Cardinals. Then, in Week 17, the Packers (10-3) will host the Lions (9-4). The Cardinals have beaten Detroit, and they have a better NFC record than Green Bay.

Yes, the Cardinals would be compromised further without Stanton, who was filling in for starter Carson Palmer, who suffered a season-ending knee injury in November. But Stanton has been up-and-down, connecting on just 55 percent of his throws.

Whether Lindley or Thomas could perform to Stanton’s level remains to be seen. But the Cardinals wouldn’t be the first club to compete with a third-string quarterback. In fact, a good Texans team did it three years ago, with then-rookie T.J. Yates leading a wild-card win vs. Cincinnati before a three-interception performance in a divisional-round loss at Baltimore.

Is there a ceiling on the Cardinals with Palmer out and Stanton ailing? Probably. But will the Cardinals act like it under Arians and defensive coordinator Todd Bowles? Absolutely not. They will be skilled, swaggering and strong until it’s time to go.

Pity the teams who will be tasked to tell them their time is up. And send aspirin and ACE bandages and prayers. We can’t say for certain if the Cardinals are sunk, but we do know they will dig in.

Good luck getting them out.

17 responses to “If anyone can shrug at another setback, it’s the Cardinals

  1. Hats off to Bruce Arian, after taking over the interim HC in Indy when Chuck Pagano was ill and turning around this organization. Good for the Cardinals they got a good one.


  3. I know that the Cardinals are supposed to be tough and all, but didn’t the Seahawks just trample them in a game that could have been 26-3 if Pete Carroll wanted to rub it in? Hard to see them scoring more than 9 against the Seahawks, and that’s not enough to beat them.

  4. The Cards might be a “one and done” playoff team, but the Cards have fought as well as anyone in the NFL.

    Great job on making the playoffs! You’re playing with house money from here on out!

  5. Great article! How many other teams could withstand what the Cardinals are going through? Of course they can’t win the Super Bowl. How many teams could handle this adversity? Not counting all the starters that are gone for the year, would the Packers be worth anything without Rodgers? The Broncos without Manning?

    It’s a shame we won’t see what this team could have done if Palmer was healthy. There’s no shot of a deep run with Stanton down. But at least someone from PFT gives the Cardinals their props for being a true team. They just suck it up each time some one goes down and keeps playing. I know I’m biased but how can anyone who loves football not respect this team?

  6. If Stanton is lost for the year that will be too much to withstand. Lindley held the fort down against the Rams but can’t see him taking the Cardinals to the promised land. As great as they are on defense, they’ll have a hard time competing with a high powered offense like Green Bay’s in the playoffs.

  7. “and they are going to inflict serious pain and stress and bruising on their foes before they leave.”

    It looks like they’re doing a better job of inflicting that upon themselves.

  8. The Arizona Cardinals have more heart than every team in the NFL combined. You complain that your team is losing because of injuries. These Cardinals don’t make excuses, they keep fighting and they keep winning! To bad AZ isn’t completely healthy or they would of had the division wrapped up 3 weeks ago. Seattle ain’t got nothing on a healthy Cards team. NEXTmanUP!! BIRDGANG!!

  9. I love BA and the swagger of the Cardinals, but let’s face it… there are only so many injuries a team can take.

    Yet there really is something special – even unusual – about this year’s Cards. Who knows? Maybe they’ll just start holding opponents to 6-10 points every week here on out. Should that happen, anything is possible, especially when these guys have it drilled into them every week that they should expect to win regardless of opponent or circumstances.

  10. They will not be winning in the playoffs with 12 points. And those 12 points were with lots of action from Stanton. There is likely trouble here.

  11. I am just going to say it…. The Cardinals are done, there is no way they go all the way with a 3rd string qb. I dont care if your front 7 are that great or not.

    Besides that if Seattle beats the 49ers this weekend (highly likely) and then beats the Cards the following week…. They take the division and at the very least the #2 seed. I am not sure who the Cards will have to take as a wild card I havent really looked at the playoff picture, but they better hope they can do more than 12 points are they are going to be 1 and done.

    Seattle is Red hot and HEALTHY right now and are doing anything to get back to the big show.. With the way they have been playing I like their odds.

  12. As a Packer Fan I’ve been leery of the Cards all year. If we play I sure as hell won’t take them lightly with that defense. I think some of you are forgetting what Baltimore did with ONLY a terrific defense and I think the Cards are right up there with them!!

  13. Another Packer fan here. My hat is off to the Cards. Amazing you guys have battled through so many injuries and just – keep – winning.

    If you can beat the Seahawks in Seattle, you can beat anyone.

  14. Is it too late to wake up brett favre?

    It would be awesome to see him crush the packers in the NFC championship!

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