The Arizona Cardinals decidedly scored a victory over the Atlanta Falcons in week 10 of the 2013 NFL season. After losing two consecutive games coming into that contest, the Cardinals got a monster performance from rookie running back Andre Ellington, who finished the 27-13 win with 154 rushing yards and a touchdown on 15 carries.
Since that win over the Falcons, the Cardinals haven’t lost. It hasn’t always been pretty, like this Sunday in week 15 against the Tennessee Titans, but Arizona has now won six straight games and is still clearly in the hunt to make the postseason. Had it not been for Ellington, again, versus Tennessee, though, they might not be in as solid of a position.
Ellington got only 10 carries in the game compared to Rashard Mendenhall’s 21, but was able to do solid work with the touches he got. The rookie rushed for 71 yards against the Titans while also catching four of his five targets in the passing game for a team-leading 87 receiving yards.
In just his first season, Ellington has been productive and has seemed to make big plays every time the Cardinals make a point to give him a solid workload. In recent weeks, though, Ellington has been kind of buried behind Mendenhall in the pecking order which has limited the rookie. Though he was still second in rushing attempts in the Tennessee game, it was nice to see Ellington show that he’s not planning on going away.
If Arizona, who is currently one game out of a wildcard spot in the NFC, wants to stay in the hunt for the playoffs, they have to make a concerted effort to keep Ellington involved. It seems pretty clear that they want Mendenhall to be their primary back in the rushing attack, but against the Titans, they did a good job of getting Ellington touches in the passing game. Maybe they run the ball more often or maybe they continue to use the pass, but no matter what the Cardinals have to utilize the special talent that they have in the rookie Ellington.