- "We're going to go out there, and we're going to kick their ass," All-Pro pass-rusher Von Miller promised in the lead-up to Thursday's clash. Denver's defense did not disappoint, scoring two touchdowns, generating two fumbles recoveries and three picks, dialing up six sacks and doing everything they could to silence the heat around coach Vance Joseph.
Embattled Cardinals offensive coordinator Mike McCoy can't be pleased with how the game started -- or ended -- with Arizona calling a time out just two plays in. From there, Rosen flung a pass that was tipped by Denver's Derek Wolfe into the waiting arms of linebacker Todd Davis, who rumbled 20 yards for the pick-six just 59 seconds into the affair. McCoy was seeing ghosts after Rosen subsequently whipped a late first-quarter toss into the hands of Chris Harris, Jr., who soared 53 yards for another Denver defensive score. That play saw J.J. Nelson stop on his route, a decision that cost the Cardinals dearly.
There's nothing wrong with Rosen's arm -- or his potential. His ugly box score (21-of-39 passing for 194 yards with one TD and the three picks) was partly the result of a broken-down scheme and plenty of punishment, with the rookie visiting the medical tent after being slammed helmet-first into the turf on a second-down sack by Shaquil Barrett before the half.
Back to Miller, who generated a Rosen fumble that was reversed, only to turn around and force another fumble from the young signal-caller plays later. The amazing Miller dialed up a second fumble off Rosen in the game's dying moments. There's nothing wrong with a player making public promises when he backs it up the way Miller did Thursday night.
Sanders wasn't finished, hauling in a perfect deep shot from Keenum for a 64-yard score that put Denver up 28-3 mere moments into the second quarter. The game might have conjured memories of Minnesota for Keenum, with the defense helping to mount an inviting lead out of the gate.
- With rumors swirling that McCoy could be ushered out of a job, Thursday served as a dangerous tipping point, with two timeouts called in the first quarter alone, an ugly delay of game penalty and a general sense of widespread disorganization from Arizona's offense. Troy Aikman noted during the broadcast that he dealt with worse in Dallas as a rookie, but Rosen is mired inside a struggling, bland attack without an ounce of hope.
It starts with utter ineptitude on third down. The Cardinals finally cracked an 0-for-19 streak channeling back to last week in the third quarter, but seem largely clueless how to work themselves out of a jam. It doesn't help that Arizona's line is banged up and typically overmatched, but that's just part of the issue when you squeeze out merely 82 yards in the first half.
Rosen put together a solid touchdown march in the second half -- hitting Fitzgerald for his 111th career receiving score, tying Tony Gonzalez for seventh all-time -- but let's not spend too much time diagnosing hazy, deep-space adventures into garbage time.
- David Johnson's underwhelming season continued, but Denver's undrafted Phillip Lindsay was a starry game-changer. The rookie back ripped off a beautiful 22-yard run early and finished with 90 yards at 6.4 yards per attempt while showing off the speed and moves that make him one of the season's better stories. Lindsay looked sensational rumbling for a 28-yard laser-beam run up the middle of Arizona's defense to put Denver up 42-10 during a lost second half for the Cardinals.
- NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport described Joseph's status before the game as "not very safe," with upper management monitoring his weekly work, but give him this: Denver's roster played for their coach on Thursday night. Joseph appears safe for now, but Denver's upcoming slate -- against the Chiefs, Texans, Chargers, Steelers and Bengals -- is problematic.
At the same time, it was tough to watch first-year Cardinals coach Steve Wilks endure another rugged defeat. You can't imagine Arizona pulling the plug just seven games in, but Wilks is under pressure to show progress down the stretch. There were more than a few thousand-yard-stare moments from Wilks, a defensive-minded coach tasked with righting the ship against the Niners next week before facing the Chiefs after their bye.