And just like that, hopes for the Playoffs are over.
In a game that left many Cardinals fans asking "What if...", the Arizona Cardinals were defeated by the Cincinnati Bengals 23-16. I can't even describe how many chances we had to win this one, which makes the loss even worse.
Hit the jump for the season-ending, most depressing loss I can think of since 2008.
The offense was the main factor in the loss today. QB John Skelton, filling in for Kevin Kolb (Out with a concussion), went 23-44 for 297 yards, 2 TD's, and 3 interceptions. The entire offense was largely a non-factor, until the 4th Quarter, where they started what would've been one of the greatest comebacks in Cardinals history. Sadly, due to a badly timed trip from WR Early Doucet (Though it's unfair to blame the loss on him), and a confusing call by Skelton at the end of the game when he decided not to spike the ball, but instead to go for one final, hurry-up offense play, the Cardinals offense came up short in the end. Skelton's two TD"s came from a 30 yard TD pass to WR Larry Fitzgerald, and a 2 yard pass to TE Jeff King (Although the attempted two point conversion after the King TD was stopped by the Bengals).
The defense had yet again another fine day. Keeping Bengals QB Andy Dalton to two TD's, the final score doesn't do justice to their performance. S Kerry Rhodes recovered two fumbles (The last fumble setting up the Cardinals offense for the potential game-winning drive), and all in all, it was another good day for the Cardinals defense. LB Daryl Washington had another excellent performance, bringing in 10 tackles, and continuing his fantastic season.
The Cardinals Special Teams had a largely disappointing performance today. Larod Stephens-Howling was pulled as KR before the game, and the backup, CB AJ Jefferson, failed to give the Cardinals offense good field positions on any of his returns. CB Patrick Peterson also was pulled as PR with a strained achilles, and the backup, WR Andre Roberts, also failed to give the Cardinals any good returns. K Jay Feely had one FG, a 29 yarder that brought the Cardinals whiten one score of the Bengals.
The time of possession for the Cardinals was 28:21, vs. 31:39 for the Bengals. They had 17 1st Downs, 6 punts, and 6 penalties, which resulted in 87 yards for the Bengals.
Next week, the Cardinals take on the Seattle Seahawks in the season finale. In what has been a crazy season, the Cardinals will be looking to finish strong.
And even though there won't be any Playoffs this season, we can all be proud of the team for trying even when they were down by so much. Also, with the defense performing the way it is, and with a full off-season for Kolb, Skelton, and the rest of the team, this team could be in for a big playoff run next season.
So at least we have something to look forward to.