EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Arizona Cardinals running back David Johnson played just three snaps on Sunday, all coming early in the first quarter, before he stood on the sideline for the rest of Arizona's 27-21 win over the New York Giants, but Chase Edmonds made sure the Cardinals didn't miss a beat. Or a touchdown.
Edmonds, the second-year running back out of Fordham University, ran for a career-high 126 yards and three touchdowns on 27 carries for the Cardinals, who have won three straight.
He had about 15 friends and family in the stands at MetLife Stadium, which is 17 miles from Jack Coffey Field, where he played college football at the FCS level, and said his former teammates at Fordham were watching, as well.
"It was extremely special for me just to be able to have my family, friends come out here, have a great game and obviously get a great win," Edmonds said. "It was extremely special, and I'm proud of the guys, proud we got the win."
Even though Johnson was listed as questionable on the injury report Friday because of an ankle issue, the Cardinals planned on Johnson having a limited role, if any against the Giants.
With Johnson relegated to the sideline after one carry for two yards, Edmonds was left as the only running back active after D.J. Foster was ruled out Friday with a hamstring injury.
"He would have been an emergency-type situation," coach Kliff Kingsbury said. "We wanted to be smart. Losing D.J. Foster late the week in practice put us in a bind, and we wanted to make sure Dave only played if we really needed him."
However, Johnson played three snaps early in the first quarter, according to NFL Next Gen Stats data, before watching the rest of the game from the sideline, at times with his arms crossed and at other times wearing a parka. But, Kingsbury said, Johnson did not reaggravate his injured left ankle. Even when Edmonds went to the sideline to vomit before the first play of the drive after he scored his second touchdown, Johnson took the field for a brief moment, thinking he was going to play, only for Edmonds to return and sub him out.
"We were just being smart," Kingsbury said. "It was a need-based deal, and Chase needed to be spelled, but we wanted to make sure that Dave came out of there clean for later on in the season."
Edmonds said he and Johnson had a feeling his action would be limited Sunday and that Edmonds would be getting the bulk of the carries.
"He kind of knew," Edmonds said. "Me and him knew, like, there's no way he's playing the running back position in an NFL game the way it was today."
All week, Kingsbury could see that Edmonds was "fired up" about returning to the New York-area.
"He had that eye of the tiger," Kingsbury said. "There's no doubt he had some extra juice, and even before the game I could tell, him bouncing around, he was going to have a day."
Edmonds, who was taken by Arizona in the fourth round in 2018, already had the proverbial chip on his shoulder. And with Giants running back Saquon Barkley returning from an injury Sunday, Edmonds knew the atmosphere, despite a constant downpour, would be, as he described it, electric. Edmonds received very little media attention at Fordham despite rushing for 1,000 yards three times and finishing his career as the Patriot League's all-time leading rusher and fifth on the Football Championship Subdivision's all-time rushing list.
Sunday brought it full circle, Edmonds said.
"I just wanted to go out here and show people, make a name for myself," Edmonds said. "I'm still a second-year player just trying to make a name for myself in this league."
He accomplished his mission but not necessarily in the way he had hoped.
Reaction on social media to Johnson's inactivity and Edmond's increased playing time reached a crescendo with every touchdown Edmonds scored. Fantasy football players who had Johnson on their teams shared their range of emotions from upset to angry, while those who had Edmonds basked in his success.
Even the Cardinals' official Twitter account weighed in.
To all the angry fantasy football owners out there,— Arizona Cardinals ⋈ (@AZCardinals) October 20, 2019
Just enjoy the win. We sure are.
Have a good night.
Coming into Sunday's game, Edmonds' career high was 68 yards, set two weeks ago in Cincinnati, and two touchdowns, which he scored in Week 13 last year at Green Bay. He rushed for 208 yards in all of 2018. He surpassed that mark for 2019 on Sunday.
Edmonds continued to shoulder the load in historic fashion.
He became the first Cardinal to rush for three touchdowns since Johnson did it on Dec. 24, 2016, and he's the seventh Cardinal to rush for three touchdowns in a game since the franchise moved to Arizona in 1988, according to ESPN Stats & Information research. Edmonds is also the first player in the NFL to rush for three touchdowns of at least 20 yards since Doug Martin in 2012 against the Raiders.
Edmonds ran for 84 yards and two touchdowns on 12 carries in the first quarter, setting a career high. His 91 yards in a first half were the most by a Cardinals running back since David Johnson's 112 in Dec. 2015, according to ESPN Stats & Information research.
Despite the uptick in carries the last few weeks and playing the best game of his career, Edmonds said his cup wasn't full.
"I told you before that I have the most confidence in Chase," quarterback Kyler Murray said. "I know what he's about. I know what he brings to the table. I know what type of guy he is. I know how hard he works. So, when Dave goes down, it's next-man-up mentality, and Chase stepped up to the plate today and did what he was supposed to do, what he was capable of."