The 2013 Pro Bowl selections were announced on Friday, and three Arizona Cardinals were deemed worthy by the voters to head to Hawaii: cornerback Patrick Peterson, outside linebacker John Abraham, and special teams extraordinaire Justin Bethel.
Let’s take a look at the 2013 Arizona Cardinal Pro Bowlers.
CB Patrick Peterson
En route to his third Pro Bowl selection in as many years, Patrick Peterson elevated his game this season. With 40 tackles, three interceptions and 13 pass deflections on the season, it’s no surprise that Peterson will return to the Pro Bowl. While his numbers aren’t necessarily as gaudy as they have been in years past, the team captain’s reputation as a true shutdown corner has continued, and other teams are responding– a possible explanation for the relatively modest numbers. Again, Peterson is a rare breed of corner in the fact that he doesn’t just go up against the other team’s best receiver, he often keeps them out of the game. Such a distinction deserves nothing less than a Pro Bowl invite.
LB John Abraham
John Abraham surprisingly made the roster, despite not being the Cardinals starter at outside linebacker through the team’s first six games. Make no question about it though; Abraham has been one of the best defensive players in the league since then, notching all 11.5 of his sacks and all four of his forced fumbles after week six.
Those totals are fifth and seventh best in the NFL, respectively. Plays like this sack for a safety against the Rams have become regular occurrences since his bump into the starter job, and summarize why he belongs in a list of the league’s best this season. The selection is Abraham’s first as a Cardinal, but fifth in his 14-year career.
ST Justin Bethel
Finally, special teams gunner Justin Bethel makes the roster. The vast majority of NFL fans probably have no clue who Bethel is, but anyone who watched an Arizona Cardinals game this season knows exactly the kind of impact Bethel brings.
With two blocked field goals on the season and 19 special teams tackles, Bethel has been a one man wrecking crew on special teams. It feels like every single game he makes an incredible play on a punt or kickoff, like this fumble recovery last week against the Seahawks. The Cardinals have forced 53 of their opponent’s drives to start inside the 20-yard line, tied with Kansas City for the NFL lead, in large part due to to Bethel’s play.
Alternates, snubs and other notes
It’s also worth mentioning that defensive ends Calais Campbell and Darnell Dockett, inside linebacker Daryl Washington and wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald were named as alternates. In total, five of Arizona’s 11 starters on defense were invited in some form or fashion, which is about right to correctly represent one of the league’s best defenses this season.
One thing also of note is the omission of linebacker Karlos Dansby, who has put together a Defensive Player of the Year campaign this season. He leads the team in tackles, interceptions and pass deflections, with two defensive touchdowns and six and a half sacks to add to it. Not that Cincinatti’s Vontaze Burfict or Carolina’s Luke Kuechly are undeserving of the honor, but Dansby has had possibly one of the best years a linebacker could have, but it goes unnoticed due to the politics of the Pro Bowl selection.
Nevertheless, the Arizona Cardinals have an impressive showing in this year’s Pro Bowl, as only to be expected out of a 10 win team.