Arizona Cardinals: Anatomy of a Blown Game

Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports /

The Arizona Cardinals playoff hopes were effectively dashed in a matter of moments.

The rains came down in Miami, washing away yard lines and eyeblack, and ultimately the playoff hopes of the Arizona Cardinals. A valiant comeback to tie the game had fans thinking that the angels were on their side, but though the heavens had opened up, they did not bring salvation.

The Cardinals fell behind 21-9 early in the third quarter, and quarterback Carson Palmer was giving no indication that he had enough to get back in it. His Dolphins counterpart, Ryan Tannehill, went down with an injury, and in the fourth quarter, things started to go Arizona’s way. Palmer hit Brittan Golden for a touchdown to get within one score, then JJ Nelson got open in the endzone for another touchdown and a two-point conversion evened things. Miami went three and out, seemingly giving Palmer and the offense another chance to win it. That’s when things went wrong.

1st and 10 (1:55): Palmer started the drive with what should have been a quick screen, but instead fumbled it, and lost six yards after he fell in it. Miami called timeout.

2nd and 16 (1:48): Palmer threw a quick pass to David Johnson, gaining just five yards. He ran out of bounds, stopping the clock.

3rd and 11 (1:43): Larry Fitzgerald was the intended target, but the pass fell incomplete, bringing up fourth down, and using just a handful of seconds, giving the Dolphins a shot of their own. Jarvis Landry returned the punt to the Cardinals side of the field, giving them 1:29 of their own, and two timeouts.

1st and 10 (1:29): Miami opened with a run play, and gained five yards to the 42-yard line. Arizona thought they forced a fumble, but he was ruled down.

2nd and 5 (0:52): Matt Moore found Kenny Stills, who was being

More from Raising Zona

covered by Justin Bethel, for a 12-yard gain. They used a timeout.

1st and 10 (0:43): The Cardinals got pressure on Moore, but he heaved it up toward Stills once again, who was once again covered by Bethel, and the prayer was answered. Bethel seemingly had no idea where the ball was at, and Stills caught it the one-yard line. Bethel also got hit with a pass interference call on the play.

From there, Miami tried to punch it in a few times, then used their final timeout, and kicked the game-winning field goal.

The inability of the Cardinals offense to do anything with the ball, or use any clock, in that final possession was their undoing. Fans went from sky-high to as low as they can go in a matter of moments. It was a sad Sunday in Arizona, as fans saw their team’s season washed away, like teardrops in the rain.