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TEMPE, Ariz. – The Arizona Cardinals haven't had a record this good in 40 years.
At 6-1, they have a two-game lead in the NFC West and are 4-0 against conference opponents after their wild 24-20 victory over Philadelphia.
The Cardinals have dominated no one. They just win.
"Survivors," coach Bruce Arians said. "We find a way to win. It's not always pretty."
After watching video of Sunday's win over the Eagles, Arians found much to criticize.
"We had some really good outstanding individual performances," he said, "but as a collective offense, defense — and I'll throw special teams out there — we had too many malfunctions. The attention to detail has to be better or else it'll come back and get us."
The Cardinals beat the Eagles with a 75-yard touchdown pass, a surprise play with the team facing a third-and-five from its 25-yard line. Carson Palmer threw deep and rookie John Brown collected the pass for the winning TD with 1:21 to play.
Then the Eagles marched downfield and had three shots at the end zone from the 16-yard line. The Cardinals got consecutive big defensive plays from rookie Deone Bucannon, Tyrann Mathieu and Rashad Johnson to hold on for the win.
Johnson nudged Jordan Matthews out of bounds as the Eagles receiver caught the ball at the edge of the end zone on the game's final play.
"When it all mattered, we all were able to respond and get the job done," Johnson said. "I think that built a lot of continuity in the locker room. In the locker room it was family, band of brothers. We really care about one another and we definitely have shown that through these seven games."
Palmer had an 80-yard touchdown pass to Larry Fitzgerald and his final big play to the speedster "Smokey" Brown. But overall, Arians rated the quarterback's play "very average for him."
Most of the coach's criticism was for the offense.
"The mental errors," Arians said. "The way we talked about running certain routes, the way versus certain coverages, did not show up on film the way we coached it. That's alarming and disheartening in a way. But we still have playmakers."
The Cardinals, he said, are "leaving way too many yards on the field."
So Arians has plenty of ammunition for when the players return to practice on Wednesday and begin preparation for Sunday's game at Dallas, which was 6-1 entering Monday night's game against Washington.
"They're playing a lot like we are," Arians said. "Everyone says we're playing over our head, we're just playing hard, and they're playing hard and they're playing smart."
Cornerback Patrick Peterson and safety Tony Jefferson were going through the concussion protocol. Jefferson's symptoms showed up after the game.
Peterson was knocked down in a freak hit. Bucannon slammed into the helmet of the Eagles' Jeremy Maclin, who in turn hit Peterson in the helmet. Maclin and Peterson went down.
"It's a scary sight. It's a violent game," Johnson said. "We all know the risks that it takes to play this game, but I was happy to see that they were able to both roll over and to see Maclin be able to come back to play was good. Hopefully, Pat can get through his test and be fine for this Sunday."
Peterson left the game but wasn't showing any signs of any problem in the locker room afterward.
"Oh man, when we came in at the end of the game Pat was jumping around, slapping guys in the head, jumping on people's back, hugging people," Johnson said. "I mean, I was like, 'Dude, don't you have a concussion? You should be sitting down in a dark room with your eyes closed right now or something.' ... It was a lot of fun to see him. You could tell he was feeling better."
The only serious injury was to running back Stepfan Taylor, who has a strained calf and "could miss some significant time," Arians said.
Rookie Marion Grice, the ex-Arizona State player signed a month ago, will move up the depth chart, Arians said, and the Cardinals might elevate Kerwynn Williams from the practice squad.
Near the end of Monday's news conference, it was mentioned that Arians was being awfully negative after such a big win.
"You should be in Wednesday's meeting," he said. "There are going to be a lot of things said."
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