ARI-PHI Grades: Palmer adds to MVP campaign with season-high grade

The top takeaways and highest-graded players from the Cardinals' 40-17 victory over the Eagles.

| 10 months ago
(AP Photo/Matt York)

(AP Photo/Matt York)

ARI-PHI Grades: Palmer adds to MVP campaign with season-high grade

Here are the top takeaways and highest-graded players from the Cardinals’ 40-17 victory over the Eagles:

Philadelphia Eagles

– The Eagles’ run defense was laid to waste last night by rookie runner David Johnson, with only Fletcher Cox (+2.4) and DeMeco Ryans (+0.8) offering some measure of resistance. The Eagles missed nine tackles against the run last night, and with Cox’s impact minimized in comparison to recent performances, there was nothing to replace his impact. Backup defensive linemen Taylor Hart (-3.6) and Beau Allen (-1.5) offered no penetration or disruption up front, while Kiko Alonso (-2.1) earned a negative grade against the run for the fifth time in seven games since he returned from injury, as the Cardinals ran on Philadelphia at

 On offense, Sam Bradford (+0.5) misread the Cardinals’ coverage—and even his own receivers—for his two interceptions in the fourth quarter, as the Cardinals turned the screw in the final stanza to ease away. Bradford’s most productive area of the field was between the numbers, 10 or more yards downfield. Aided by exploiting a catastrophic bust in the Cardinals’ secondary for Jordan Matthews’ long touchdown catch, Bradford went six-for-nine for 177 yards and two scores, with a +3.6 PFF passing grade in that area. Bradford also suffered another three drops last night to take his season total to 33, but even those plays wouldn’t have brought the Eagles back into contention last night.

– A rare bright spot on the Eagles’ defense last night was second-year cornerback Jaylen Watkins (-1.1), who entered the game for an injured Byron Maxwell (-1.4) late in the first quarter. While he struggled in run defense, with three missed tackles, the Eagles’ fourth-round pick from a year ago impressed in coverage (+1.6). Targeted six times in coverage, the only catch he surrendered was Michael Floyd’s (+2.7) miraculous 29-yard completion early in the third quarter. Getting his hands to three passes, Watkins earned the third-highest coverage grade of any Eagles’ corner so far this season.

Top performers:

DE Fletcher Cox (+2.4)
C Jason Kelce (+1.8)
WR Jordan Matthews (+1.4)
TE Brent Celek (+1.3)
DE Cedric Thornton (+1.3)


Arizona Cardinals

– Picking out star performers for the Cardinals last night is like shooting fish in a barrel with so many to choose from, but it only seems fair to start with David Johnson (+3.9). Starting for the third straight week, Johnson didn’t just pick up where he left off against the Rams and Vikings, he re-doubled his efforts in a scintillating all-around performance. Breaking a total of 10 tackles as a runner (seven) and a receiver (three), Johnson simply would not be stopped by this Eagles’ defense, highlighted no better than by his 47-yard touchdown, run-weaving and stiff arming his way to the goal-line.

– On the defensive side, there were strong showings once again from the likes of Calais Campbell (+1.1) and Tyrann Mathieu (+3.9), but last night’s standout was Josh Mauro (+4.2). Working on the edge, Mauro’s best work came in the first half working against Brent Celek, preventing the Eagles’ tight end from cutting off the back side of the play to squeeze down and control the cutback lanes. Adding a forced fumble, Mauro has only topped the three stops he recorded last night once before in his career.

– While the numbers may not have been eye-popping, this was another stellar performance from Carson Palmer (+6.7) to add to his All-Pro and MVP résumés as the end of the regular season draws ever nearer. Hooking up with Michael Floyd for his only deep completion of the game, Palmer was denied more by John Brown’s (-3.1) unexpected bout of the dropsies, two coming on deep passes. Prior to last night Brown had only dropped one pass this season, four in his career; against the Eagles, Brown accounted for all three of the Cardinals’ dropped balls.

Top performers:

QB Carson Palmer (+6.7)
TE Darren Fells (+5.1)
OLB Josh Mauro (+4.2)
HB David Johnson (+3.9)
CB Tyrann Mathieu (+3.9)

| Director of Analysis

Ben joined Pro Football Focus in 2007, and has since been in charge of the company’s analysis process. He also contributes to PFF’s weekly NFL podcast.

  • crosseyedlemon

    Eagle fans didn’t even have the option of venting their frustration by throwing snowballs at Santa.

  • Mikey Balls

    i take solace in the fact that the one bust on the Card’s secondary was on Timeout call that the officials completely missed. Somehow a 6’8″ DT/DE calling Timeout was completely missed by those refs.

  • Tim Edell

    Losing Mathieu for the season is a devastating blow for AZ!

  • Tim Edell

    Markus Goldsen is really starting to impress me. The comparison to James Harrison is spot on.