Cardinals' run game surging in last four games

TEMPE, Ariz. -- The Arizona Cardinals’ ground attack is back on track in the last four games, but offensive coordinator Harold Goodwin said nothing is different.

Arizona has had four straight games of more than 100 yards. It had two such games previously all season.

“Really, the plays are the same,” said Goodwin, who also coaches the offensive line. “A couple of blockers have changed, not by me wanting them to change, but by injuries or what not. It’s been the same. We’re preaching the same thing and guys are just doing a better job of staying on our guys.

“Going back early in the season, a lot of guys just fell off the blocks. There’s been a lot of different rotations as far as guys in there and guys being on the same page.”

Starting in Week 12 against Jacksonville, when the Cards’ run of triple-digit rushing games began, the Cardinals have had relative consistency on the offensive line. For the first three games, the offense line didn’t change. Jared Veldheer was at left tackle, Alex Boone at left guard, A.Q. Shipley at center, Earl Watford at right guard and John Wetzel at right tackle. In the last game against Washington, injuries forced the lineup changed to change slightly. Veldheer went on injured reserve and was replaced by Will Holden and Watford was out with a high ankle sprain and was replaced by Evan Boehm. The Cardinals still ran for 141 yards -- their highest total without Adrian Peterson running for more than 100 yards in a game.

Since Week 12, Arizona’s 503 yards have ranked ninth in the NFL. The Cards have had games of 108, 118, 136 and 141 yards, and the last three were without Peterson, who’s on injured reserve with a neck injury.

“They’ve just been blocking their asses [off],” coach Bruce Arians said. “The tight ends have been doing a heck of a job, and [tight end] Ricky Seals-Jones did a good job in [the Washington] game. But, to set that edge, and then the interior guys just fighting their asses off. That’s all it is, but it’s all about run blocking. It’s finishing, getting into a guy and staying on him.”

It took Arizona the first nine games of the season to reach 503 yards.

That number should continue to grow by another 100 on Sunday against the New York Giants, who are ranked 31st in rushing yards allowed per game. The Cards are averaging 125.75 rushing yards in the last four games, while the Giants are allowing 128.4 per game.

One reason for the improvement recently has been more of a commitment to the run.

The Cards have run 117 times in the last four games. They didn’t reach that mark until the first six games of the season.

Before Week 12, the only two 100-yard games were by Peterson. But without him in the lineup, the Cardinals have turned to a variety of options. Kerwynn Williams has led the team in rushing over the last four weeks with 239 yards. The Cards have also received contributions from quarterback Blaine Gabbert and running backs Eli Penny and D.J. Foster.

“I think we have to rely on it a little bit more,” Shipley said. “I think that’s part of it. I think we take pride in this. When we know we don’t get very many opportunities to run it so when we do, we have to make them right to keep them going and that’s what we’ve been doing.”