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Cardinals Recap: Playoff hopes ended in loss to Dolphins

Cardinals lose, playoff hopes dashed, questions surround franchise.

Arizona Cardinals v Miami Dolphins
Arians at loss in loss
Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

In the continuing series of must win games the Arizona Cardinals latest loss has finally ended the Cardinals playoff hopes and leaves the future in doubt with an aging team and some large contracts to deal with.

Not much to really say, the weather, turnovers, injuries and special teams were the reasons for the Cardinals demise. The Cardinals fought at the end but missed kicks by special teams was the nail in the coffin.

Unless you’re a masochist, might as well skip article and go directly to the comment section and discuss draft picks, Bruce Arians and Steve Keim.

First Half

The game started poorly for the Arizona Cardinals with a risky pass by Carson Palmer to Larry Fitzgerald, the pass was high and tipped off Fitz’s hands and into a Dolphins for an easy INT. Only a few plays later the Dolphins and Ryan Tannehill capitalized with a long TD over Marcus Cooper, the recently struggling DB getting beat on a double move.

Thankfully the Cardinals responded quickly with a few solid plays and a great trick call by Bruce Arians. J.J. Nelson took a reverse around the right end for a long TD, showcasing his next-level speed.

Marcus Cooper kept the game interesting with a step towards redemption by intercepting a late Tannehill pass to the outside. The call was contested as it appeared a simultaneous catch but the review showed Cooper had possession first, though barely.

However the game took another turn for the worse with the Cardinals turning the ball over after a David Johnson fumble. With the rain coming down, the field conditions contributed, however the fumble is a cause for concern considering it’s DJ’s second fumble in as many games. Thankfully the defense held with the addition of a false start by the Dolphins offense.

But the turnovers didn’t end there. Palmer got NAILED by Cameron Wake and threw right to a Dolphins defender, giving the Dolphins the ball inside the Cardinals red zone. And just when I was dropping f-bombs the Dolphins and refs gifted the Cardinals a snap fumble on the Cardinals 2-yard line. The replays showed what looked like a clear recovery by Jay Ajayi, but the Cardinals came up with the ball and the refs kept it that way.

The Cardinals were unable to do anything with the ball and quickly gave it back to the Dolphins who marched down the field, with the aid of a bad call on Cooper, and scored to push their lead.

With the ball back the Cardinals again gave it right back up after a fumbled snap. Four turnovers in the first half by the Cardinals, and at that point in the game, ten minutes were left in the second quarter. Basically a turnover every five minutes by the Cardinals offense.

The wild ride continues (it’s still the first half) with the offense finally showing some life only to have the drive end with Chandler Catanzaro missing an easy chip shot. I never want to talk about special teams again after this season.

Thankfully the Cardinals were able to end the half with some points, with Catanzaro nailing a 56-yard field goal with under two minutes to go.

Somehow the half ended with the Cardinals only down five points. The defense and the Dolphins own miscues kept it close.

Second Half

The second half started poorly for the Cardinals with the failed free agent signing Tyvon Branch missing another tackle that lead to a 70 yard run for Jarvis Jones. A few plays later the Dolphins punched it from third and short. This on the back of injuries to Deone Bucannon and Marcus Cooper.

The injury to Bucannon was a big blow as he had been one of the bright spots on the defense on the day. Cooper was lost on a cheap shot by Landry, who nailed him in the back in the midst of a tackle.

The news got worse with D.J. Humphries leaving the game with a concussion. With the sole good offensive player on the line gone, the hopes for a victory are coming to a screeching demise.

With the game all but over the Cardinals showed life. Tannehill was injured unintentionally on a low hit by Calais Campbell and with the Dolphins offense all but dead the Cardinals were given some hope.

That hope seemed over with Dolphins defense playing well and the Cardinals special teams continuing playing like crap. But the Dolphins gifted the Cardinals hope, their defense letting the Cardinals back into the game. Some big plays by Jermaine Gresham and David Johnson got the Cardinals into the Dolphins red zone.

A few plays later on third down, Palmer found Brittan Golden for a nine-yard TD, putting the Cardinals back into the game. The special teams gaffs continued however with another high snap and a blocked extra point, which of course was returned by the Dolphins to push the lead to eight-points.

The defense held though and got the ball back, forcing a quick three and out by the Matt Moore led Dolphins.

With the fourth quarter winding down the Cardinals offense again founds it way back into the end zone, again on great plays by Gresham and Johnson. This time Palmer found Nelson for an eight-yard TD.

Again the defense held, forcing another quick three and out and giving the Cardinals offense just under two minutes to try and win the game.

Regretfully the offense did nothing with the opportunity, with Palmer continuing to get nailed every time he dropped back and with the rain picking up, the Cardinals were forced to punt the ball with 1:43 on the clock.

Special teams failed the Cardinals again, despite a nice punt by Drew Butler, the coverage gave up a nice return to Jarvis Landry. The defense tried but the lack of depth in the secondary showed and Moore destroyed Justin Bethel in coverage for two big plays that put the ball on the Cardinals three yard line.

And that’s all she wrote. Clock was run out, field goal kicked and the game ended in depressing fashion.