The Arizona Cardinals went to New England hoping to get back into the win column after a Thursday night loss to Seattle. They came so close, but at times seemed so far from victory.
For the second time in as many weeks, the Arizona Cardinals lost another game in an excruciating fashion, This time to the Cam Newton-led New England Patriots. The Cardinals got off to a great start, with an interception by Markus Golden after Jordan Hicks delivered the hit on Newton. With a quick Kenyan Drake score and a field goal by Zane Gonzalez, the Cards quickly got out to a 10-0 lead.
Things quickly changed in the late second quarter. The offensive line went up against a 5 man front, which locked them into one-on-one matchups with the New England defensive front. This in turn limited the run game as the Cardinals attempted to run their outside zone plays which had contributed to their top-two ranking in rushing offense in the league.
However, Larry Fitzgerald was ruled out after a positive Covid-19 test earlier in the week, which led to the blocking up to the rest of WR depth chart to pick up the slack. Now it’s no secret that Fitzgerald can throw a big block when needed, but his skills were definitely missed as the Patriot defense brought extra men all day to make it hard on the run game. Drake did finish with two touchdowns, and was the reason the Cardinals had most of their points.
The passing game wasn’t the same. Its clear that last week’s hit from Seattle’s L.J. Collier and Carlos Dunlap has caused Kyler Murray to become uncomfortable in all facets of the offense, despite his claims against it. Murray posted his second-lowest passing yards on the season, going 23/34/170 and 1 interception. The interception was caused by the offensive line not getting their hands in the numbers of the D-line, as it was tipped at the line of scrimmage and picked off.
If this is what the Cardinals have to look forward to with a Fitzgerald-less offense, they better find a good replacement soon. Christian Kirk couldn’t corral a short TD pass. Dan Arnold couldn’t haul one in either, although the ball placement on that throw was debatable. Andy Isabella came to play in the first quarter, and then wasn’t really featured the rest of the game, besides his terrible punt coverage.
This team seems to losing games at the worst possible time. They went from leading the NFC West to what now seems a very-far-away 3rd place in the division, and if it hadn’t been for an even bigger slide in Chicago, they would be on the outside looking in. The real blame has to go Kliff Kingsbury, the offense and special team units for Sunday’s loss. The Cardinals defense only allowed Newton to throw for 84 yards and two interceptions- and still lost!
According to the website statmuse.com, there had been 31 other games were the Cardinals had allowed 100 or less passing yards since 1950, and the Cardinals record wound up to be 7-23-1. I guess you can add in another loss. Regardless of if it was how good the defense was, or Newton’s struggles, the defense did their job even with the short fields that were given to them. Despite the Isaiah Simmons penalty, this was Vance Joseph’s best game of the year.
Kliff and Kyler continued their time management struggles, with two timeouts being taken on the same drive in the first quarter. How is that possible after a 10 day hiatus and a hurry-up offense? How come there are so many questions after each game, especially when it comes down to short yardage situations? After the game, Kliff said “We didn’t do enough” in the loss on Sunday. When will we do enough to win these games?
There has been two instances where it’s been 4th&1 and the team has 2 or less timeouts (NE, MIA games) and both times Kliff opted for the field goal and Gonzalez has missed each kick. Now while Gonzalez is his own entire article, it should never come down to him if the offense does their job. Kliff needs to find what’s the right thing to do in each situation. Hindsight is 20/20, but when you refuse to run QB sneaks with your franchise quarterback, that speaks volumes. And for Kliff, he is starting to struggle with being a head coach in the NFL.
This next game will be the one that really will dictate what happens to the Cardinals and the playoff race. Let’s hope they keep themselves alive and give themselves a chance to get in the dance.