Face it, the Arizona Cardinals were not going to go 16-0 this year. However, Cardinals fans were hoping that their first loss would not occur in Week 5 against the St. Louis Rams — and that it would not be delivered in such an embarrassing and shameful fashion.
The running game was pitiful. The offensive line was horrendous. And after playing a relatively solid first half, the defensive unit finally broke down, as Steven Jackson picked apart the Cardinals defensive line for several big gains in the second half and Greg Toler got torched on a long touchdown pass by Sam Bradford.
The truth is that even in the fourth quarter, after Patrick Peterson made an incredible interception in the end zone that prevented another Rams score, I was thinking that maybe — just maybe — the Cardinals would make a couple of big plays and find a way to tie the game in regulation and win it in overtime. After all, it happened just the week before.
However, it was not meant to be. In fact, it was the Rams who made the big plays when they counted: two fourth down red zone chances each ended in a change of possession, and wiped out any comeback chances. In addition, two silly punt return penalties erased a terrific Peterson return (the result of which ended up being about a 50-yard difference in field position).
The good news (if you want to find some good news) is the Cardinals are still 4-1, and at worst will be tied for the division lead after Sunday.
The bad news is that they are approaching what will be a very difficult stretch of games against some high quality opponents, with a non-existent running game and an offensive line that has more holes in it than a slice of Swiss cheese.
Something has to change — and quickly — if the Cardinals want to compete for a playoff spot this year.