Cardinals fail to overcome penalties during Christmas night loss

(Photo by Chris Coduto/Getty Images) Kyler Murray
(Photo by Chris Coduto/Getty Images) Kyler Murray /

A rash of untimely penalties cost the Arizona Cardinals dearly during their Christmas night loss to the Indianapolis Colts.

Any fans who tuned in to watch the Arizona Cardinals play on Saturday night were hoping for a positive conclusion to the 2021 Christmas holiday.

Unfortunately, a rash of penalties committed by the home team took away any chance that the Cards may have had of presenting their followers with that one final gift from Santa Claus. In fact, anyone who witnessed the squad get flagged an eye-popping 11 times may have been convinced that the Grinch had crept in and stolen all of their presents.

That was the kind of feeling you were left with after Arizona basically frittered away any chance they had of defeating an undermanned version of the Indianapolis Colts. It was a totally undisciplined group of Redbirds that took the field in Week 16 and proceeded to throw away an opportunity to clinch a playoff spot for the first time since 2015.

Self-inflicted mistakes contributed heavily to latest Arizona Cardinals loss

It’s one thing for the Cardinals to get beat straight-up by an opponent that has flocked to the desert to take them on. It’s an entirely different scenario when you defeat yourselves, and that’s exactly what head coach Kliff Kingsbury‘s crew did when they took on the Colts.

Right guard Josh Jones was called for not one, not two, but three false start infractions during the contest. The most costly one came in the second quarter, with the Cards facing a 4th-and-inches at the Indianapolis 29-yard line. Kingsbury elected to go for it again after the penalty was enforced, but an outstanding one-handed catch by Zach Ertz on 4th- and-5 was ruled incomplete when instant replay revealed that the tight end had not completed the catch.

On another occasion, Chandler Jones‘ apparent strip-sack of quarterback Carson Wentz in the second quarter was nullified when Byron Murphy was called for illegal contact. The Cardinals would’ve been sitting pretty at the Colts’ 42-yard line (Zach Allen recovered the fumble) if the ill-timed penalty had not occurred.

With 4:20 left in the first half, Indianapolis recorded a safety when Kyler Murray was called for intentional grounding in the end zone. It was hardly the signal-caller’s fault, due to the fact that fill-in center Max Garcia was responsible for yet another terrible snap that came rolling awkwardly towards Murray’s feet.

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Arizona’s self-inflicted blunders cost them a total of 85 yards versus the Colts. That’s a significant amount that was more than enough to cost the club a much-needed victory. Penalties will need to be reduced to a bare minimum in the upcoming weeks if the Cards have any intention of winning again this season.