The Cards punted on their first six possessions with just one of those drives lasting more than five plays. In eight first-half drives, Arizona punted seven times and got a touchdown gift after an interception at the 21-yard-line.
Searching for a stabilizer, the Cardinals turned to David Johnson. The second-year back pounded the San Francisco 49ers into submission in a 33-21 victory. Johnson carried 27 times for 157 yards and two touchdowns, adding three receptions for 28 yards. He totaled 185 yards; the rest of Arizona's offense earned 111 additional.
"I feel unstoppable, basically," Johnson said of when he gets rolling, via ESPN.com. "Especially with the help of the guys blocking, the tight ends, the receivers and, obviously, the O-line. It helps me get going. It helps me get into the flow of being able to break some of those tackles, being able to get the yards that we needed."
The plan wasn't for Johnson to carry the load, but the big-bodied speedster couldn't be taken down, so Bruce Arians fed the beast.
"That's what we expected out of him the whole time," Arians said. "He doesn't have to do it all, just take what's there."
Johnson took it and then some. The Northern Iowa product placed his stamp on the "best running back in the NFL" claim Thursday night. At 6-foot-1 and 224 pounds, Johnson has the size to run over smaller linebackers and safeties, speed to outrun defensive backs, is elusive on the edge and owns great hands in the passing game. Johnson's one-cut ability in the hole is freakish for a man of his size.
"Once he's going, the team's going to be going with him," tight end Jermaine Gresham said. "A lot's on his shoulders and he's a young kid.
"When you see him going, we're all doing pretty good."