Bad decision near end of half proved costly in Arizona Cardinals loss to Bengals

The Arizona Cardinals lost to the Cincinnati Bengals in what initially looked like was going to be a close game throughout the afternoon.
Cincinnati Bengals v Arizona Cardinals
Cincinnati Bengals v Arizona Cardinals / Cooper Neill/GettyImages

The Arizona Cardinals had a 14-10 lead and all the momentum behind them following a huge fourth down stop late in the second quarter. The only issue? The Cards were pinned back at their own one yard line. 

Quarterback Joshua Dobbs tried a sneak on first down, but he picked up nothing. However, the play forced the Bengals to burn a timeout. On the ensuing play, Dobbs dropped back, threw into coverage, and Cam Taylor-Britt picked off the pass before he found the end zone for a pick-six. 

Following the Cardinals initial 14-10 lead, they once again sputtered in the second half, and the Bengals outscored them 17-6 in the game’s final two quarters, leaving the Redbirds with an ugly 1-4 start on the season. 

Listen, I’m all for playing to win, but there needs to be smarter play-calling going on down at the Cards one yard line, especially when you can go into the half with the lead. I get that James Conner was banged up and forced to miss the rest of the contest, but with no breathing room and a relatively inexperienced quarterback under center, you need to run the ball in that situation.

Bad decision all around served as turning point in Arizona Cardinals loss

In a worst-case scenario, you run the ball two more times, force the Bengals to burn all three of their timeouts, and hopefully give your new punter (who averaged 54.8 yards per punt, by the way) enough room to kick one deep. Sure, Joe Burrow and Company were hot today, but you’re at least making them drive downfield with zero timeouts, supposing they call one every time the Cards run the football. 

The first down run by Dobbs took three seconds, taking the clock from 1:33 to 1:30. So let’s suppose, in a worst-case scenario, they run the ball on second and third down, and each run takes three seconds apiece. That brings you down to 1:24, and a punt will take roughly seven seconds off the clock, bringing you to just 1:17 left. 

Blake Gillikan puts the Bengals at around midfield with a punt between 54 and 55 yards, and your defense has a good chance to hold the Bengals to either no points or a field goal. Sure, a touchdown was likely, too, but unless your defense allows a big play, your odds of a full momentum swing probably aren’t taking a major hit. 

And again, we’re talking about the probable worst-case scenario here, but you should get the point. Don’t try risky plays deep in your own territory with a quarterback who’s only started seven games in his career. Anyway, they can chalk this one up as a learning experience and avoid making the same mistake in future games. 


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