And while they failed to pull out a win in the season finale, there is still a lot to be happy about with this loss to the division rival San Francisco 49ers.
Here are 5 positives from the week 17 game:
1) Michael Floyd finished his season right
The third year receiver finally came into his own this season. Floyd capped off a breakout 2013 campaign by crossing the coveted 1,000 yard mark, as he pulled in 6 receptions for 91 yards to put his season total at 1,054 yards. We're now seeing why he was drafted in the 1st round.
Side note: Larry Fitzgerald had another 100+ yard game, which is definitely the right way to end a season. Although he didn't get to 1,000, a Fitz and Floyd 1-2 punch will be a sight to see for the coming years.
2) Carson Palmer makes history
Palmer went 28-49 for 407 yards, 2 TD's, and 1 interception. His yard count was enough to propel him past 4,000 yards, making him the first player in NFL history to throw for 4,000 yards with three different teams (He did it twice with the Cincinnati Bengals, once with the Oakland Raiders, and now with the Cardinals). Although Palmer's interception count is one we'd all like to forget, he's had a decent season, and the record is a nice mark on his career.
3) The run defense doing what they do best
The Cardinals #1 run defense kept their title, as the leading rusher for the 49ers ended up being their WR, Quinton Patton, who rushed once for 26 yards. In fact, Frank Gore, San Francisco's star RB, was held to a meager 14 yards off 13 rushes. Stuffing the run has been the defense's specialty all year, and we'll be looking for them to come out the gate strong at the start of next season.
4) The team never quit
San Francisco was up 17-0 after the 1st quarter. All signs were pointing to a blowout loss, which would have been a disheartening end to a strong season. But the team never quit. After that lackluster 1st quarter, the 49ers would only score one more time the rest of the game (Which happened to be the game-winning FG in the 4th quarter). In addition, the team likely knew that the New Orleans Saints had clinched the last wildcard spot before the game ended, as they could see the result on the scoreboard in the stadium. However, they still gave this game all they had, and that's an admirable trait to have.
5) The team never had a chance to make the Playoffs
This may seem like a weird positive, but hear me out. If the Tampa Bay Buccaneers had pulled out the impossible, and beaten the Saints in the Superdome, this would have been one of the worst losses in franchise history. Not only would the team have had a chance at the Wildcard spot, but they would have blown it away in the final minutes of their final game against a division rival. However, since the Saints won the game, the Cardinals never had control of their Playoff fate. They did everything they could down the final stretch of the season, including an amazing performance against the vaunted Seahawks IN Seattle. This team is talented, and with a few right moves this off-season, they will definitely be ready to compete against the NFL's best.