Arizona Cardinals: It took Jonathan Gannon nearly an entire season to win his first challenge

It’s not every year that you see it take 18 weeks to win their first challenge, but that happened to Arizona Cardinals head coach Jonathan Gannon.

Seattle Seahawks v Arizona Cardinals
Seattle Seahawks v Arizona Cardinals / Jennifer Stewart/GettyImages
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Arizona Cardinals head coach Jonathan Gannon went nearly an entire season without winning a single coach’s challenge, but it’s not because he was throwing the challenge flag at the wrong time and losing them. Instead, Gannon never bothered to throw the red flag until the fourth quarter in the Redbirds 21-20 loss to the Seattle Seahawks, as ESPN's Josh Weinfuss stated on X (formerly Twitter).

Considering the sheer number of questionable calls and decision-making from NFL officials, one would think Gannon would have challenged at least one play in the 2023 season. And technically speaking, he never threw the flag until the calendar flipped to 2024, meaning he either agreed with every call the officials made, didn’t agree but wasn’t eligible to throw the challenge flag, or disagreed but opted not to challenge. 

Gannon’s challenge couldn’t have come at a better time, as it nearly won the game for the Redbirds. It occurred on a third and seven play with the Seahawks well in their own territory. Quarterback Geno Smith threw the ball to DK Metcalf, who appeared to have caught the ball from behind and gained 15 yards at the Seattle 43.

Jonathan Gannon finally challenged a play in Arizona Cardinals loss

However, Gannon believed Metcalf did not establish control of the ball and threw the red flag. After a quick look, it was confirmed that Gannon was correct to challenge, and the Arizona Cardinals got the ball back with a chance to ice the game. 

The Cards, up 20-13, drove well within kicker Matt Prater’s range, but he missed the 43-yarder that would have put “Big Red” up 23-13, which should have negated any chance at a Seahawks comeback. But, the missed kick led to a Seattle touchdown and subsequent two-point conversion on the next drive, putting the ‘Hawks up 21-20. 

Prater had a chance to redeem himself as the Cardinals drove down the field again to set up a last-second attempt from 51 yards, once again well within the 39-year-old’s range. But, Prater missed it, which sent the Cards packing with a 4-13 record. But, had Gannon never thrown that challenge flag, the potential sequence of events may have never given Arizona a chance to walk away 5-12 instead of 4-13, so hats off to the head coach. 

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(Information provided by ESPN.com)