The all-out effort by the undermanned Arizona Cardinals on Christmas night proves that Kliff Kingsbury hasn’t lost the team.
It wouldn’t have been a total surprise if the Arizona Cardinals failed to show up for a primetime matchup versus the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Christmas night. After all, head coach Kliff Kingsbury’s group had already been eliminated from the playoffs, and had very little to play for on the festive holiday evening.
When the smoke had cleared, the Cards had suffered a 19-16 overtime loss to Tom Brady and the Bucs. Coordinator Vance Joseph’s defense held tough throughout most of the game, but a late rally by the “GOAT” and his offensive teammates sunk the Redbirds.
Arizona showed no signs of quitting, despite the fact that they had compiled an ugly 4-10 record heading into the contest. There are rumors that Kingsbury will be fired at the end of the season, but the impressive effort by the Cardinals proves that he hasn’t lost the squad.
The Cards went punch for punch with Tampa Bay with an inexperienced quarterback leading the offense. Trace McSorley, a fourth-year veteran out of Penn State, was making his first NFL start. Imagine how sweet it would’ve have been if the 27-year-old could’ve recorded his first professional win against a future Hall of Famer like Brady.
McSorley did everything he could to lead “Big Red” to victory, but his limitations kept that from happening. Kingsbury did his best with the third-string signal-caller, but the lack of a downfield passing-game hindered the scoring attack’s effectiveness. The Buccaneers should be thanking their lucky stars that Colt McCoy (concussion) was sidelined, because Arizona would’ve likely won easily if the experienced backup was under center.
Plethora of Arizona Cardinals continue to give the organization their all
Two offensive weapons in particular competed at a high level for the Cardinals on Sunday night. It’s a shame that the determination of James Conner can’t be bottled, because the running back puts his heart and soul into every performance. At the wide receiver position, Greg Dortch continues to show the football world that he’s more than worthy of a prominent role in the National Football League.
On defense, Marco Wilson was nothing short of outstanding against Tampa Bay. The second-year cornerback can one day tell his grandkids that he picked Brady off not once but twice in the same meeting. Three-time Defensive Player of the Year J.J. Watt was dominant once again, basically refusing to be blocked for the second-consecutive week.
There were additional members of the Cardinals roster who left everything on the field against the Buccaneers as well. Marquise “Hollywood” Brown made a couple of clutch receptions in the second half. Newly-acquired veteran Phaoroh Cooper had a magnificent 28-yard punt-return that led to Arizona’s only touchdown in the final quarter.
While it’s true that a large portion of the roster is still playing hard for Kingsbury, a price still needs to be paid for all of the losing. A new head coach could be the only missing ingredient from this crew of Cardinals who continue to give it their all.
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