Cardinals maintain NFC West lead with win against Ravens

Reuters News
Posted: Oct 27, 2015 12:45 AM

(The Sports Xchange) - The Arizona Cardinals might be on the verge of solving their losing ways on "Monday Night Football." The Baltimore Ravens, meanwhile, still have their issues.

The Cardinals got two touchdown passes from quarterback Carson Palmer and a 122-yard rushing effort and a touchdown from Chris Johnson to down the Ravens 26-18 Monday night at University of Phoenix Stadium.

Entering the game, Arizona were 2-8 in their previous 10 Monday night appearances.

The Cardinals (5-2) maintain their control in the NFC West. They head to Cleveland next week before getting to rest up for their bye in Week 9.

Baltimore (1-6) lost their third consecutive game, but once again had a chance to make something happen at the end, even though it was outgained by the Cardinals by a two-to-one margin.

A blocked punt and recovery set up a 1-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Joe Flacco to fullback Kyle Juszczyk with 4:26 left to play, and a successful two-point conversion cut Arizona's lead to eight points.

After forcing the Cardinals to punt again, the Ravens got the ball back at their own 24-yard line with 1:53 remaining.

A 31-yard pass deep down the sideline to wide receiver Kamar Aiken put Baltimore at the Cardinals' 27-yard line. A 23-yard completion over the middle to tight end Crockett Gillmore moved the Ravens to the 4.

With 13 seconds to go, Flacco looked for Gillmore again -- this time in the end zone -- but Cardinals defensive back Tony Jefferson intercepted the pass -- Arizona's league-leading 12th pick of the season.

Flacco was 26 of 40 for 252 yards with a touchdown and an interception. Palmer was 20 of 29 for 275 yards with no interceptions.

In three of their four losses coming into Monday's game, the Ravens held a lead in the fourth quarter. They also had a chance to tie or take the lead in the final two minutes in each of their first six games.

The Cardinals built a 14-10 lead at halftime, catching a break when special teams ace Justin Bethel forced and recovered a fumble on a punt by Ravens returner Jeremy Ross.

The turnover gave Arizona the ball at the Baltimore 12-yard line, and four plays and two defensive pass-interference penalties later, Palmer drilled a 3-yard pass to wide receiver Michael Floyd for the go-ahead score with 1:01 remaining until intermission.

The Ravens had scored first, utilizing a missed 55-yard field-goal attempt by Arizona's Chandler Catanzaro and moving 29 yards on eight plays to put Justin Tucker in position to kick a 44-yard field goal for a 3-0 lead.

The Cardinals' high-powered offense, which entered the game leading the NFL in scoring, needed only three plays to claim the lead.

First, Palmer hit tight end Jermaine Gresham for a 21-yard gain. Then he found Floyd deep down the right sideline for a 33-yard pickup. Johnson took it from there, running to his right before changing gears and running left and breaking free for a 26-yard touchdown scamper.

Baltimore answered with an eight-play, 84-yard drive capped by a 14-yard scoring run by running back Justin Forsett, who wasn't touched on the play. That gave the Ravens a 10-7 lead before the Ross fumble.

(Editing by Sudipto Ganguly)