I realize that because Cardinals cornerback Patrick Peterson runs his mouth a lot and usually sounds a bit arrogant, he can rub people the wrong way. Now people can say he isn't the best corner or this guy or that guy gave him the business, but one thing nobody can deny is that the kid makes plays. I would be hard-pressed to come up with a defensive player who sealed a win for his team in the manner that Peterson did against the Rams on Sunday.
Understand that the score had been close all game and with about seven-and-a-half minutes left in the game, it stood at 17-14 Arizona. The problem, however, was that Cardinals starting quarterback Carson Palmer had been knocked out of the game with what we now know is a torn ACL just a couple of series prior. His backup, Drew Stanton, who has had a good bit of playing time this season when Palmer was out injured, came in on the next drive and threw a bomb to receiver John Brown for a touchdown to put the Cardinals up by four.
Still, the Cardinals had to have some concern that if the Rams were to score another TD, Stanton wouldn't be able to lead them down to score and either tie the game or win it. They needed the scoring to end for the Rams right then and there and Peterson made it happen.
On a first-and-10 from the Rams 25-yard line, receiver Chris Givens tried to beat Peterson on a go route up the numbers. Givens actually got some separation because Peterson ran into his teammate, safety Rashad Johnson, as he dropped back in coverage. Peterson didn't panic, however, and instead sprinted back to catch up with Givens with his eyes on the quarterback the whole time. Not only did he hawk Givens down, Peterson was also able to pick off the pass because he saw that Rams quarterback Austin Davis threw it a little too short.
Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images
Most corners would've just turned around and hauled ass, never looking back and ending up getting pass interference called on them when Givens came back to try to catch the ball. Even though they didn't talk it up during the game, that was one helluva play by Peterson.
Now, the Cardinals offense ended up going three-and-out on the ensuing drive after Peterson's pick so not too much time ran off the clock. I guess at that point Peterson figured the only way to guarantee the Rams couldn't come back in the last few minutes was to score himself. So on second-and-9 with the Rams on their own 26-yard line, Peterson broke up on Rams receiver Kenny Britt, who was running a crossing route, saw the pass slip through Britt's fingers, jumped, tipped it up in the air, came down, caught it and returned the interception 30 yards for a touchdown.
That put the Cardinals up 24-14 and they would go on to win 31-14 after another defensive score.
With the offense a question mark, Peterson took over the game and made sure his team came out with a win. Anybody who can do that as a cornerback is pretty damn special in my book.