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Bruce Arians wouldn't change approach against Carolina, believes Cardinals would win if they played again

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He sounds like a man who wouldn't change anything in terms of game preparation.

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Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

Just when we think we are all over the 49-15 loss in the NFC Championship Game to the Carolina Panthers, someone has to go and bring it up again. Head coach Bruce Arians is still upset about it, according AZCentral reporter Bobby McManaman.

Speaking to Arians with a drink recently at the Waste Management Phoenix Open, Arians played some "what if" in that game that seems to eat at him. He also said were the two teams to play again, the result would be different.

"We missed on a couple plays early in that game that were that close," he said.  "You can't miss 'em in those types of games. We had J.J. (Nelson) on the post and it was a perfect throw. It's that close.

"If we hit that, it's a different ballgame. If we don't fumble the punt, it's a different ballgame. If we don't throw the interception after the return, same thing. So there were ebbs and flows and that was kind of the end of it."

Arians spoke of the experience that comes with a loss like that.

More importantly, he would have changed anything with how they approached that game. And if there were to be a rematch, even on the road, he believes his team would be victorious.

The theme -- plays were there and the players didn't make them.

While it seems absurd to think that a couple of plays in the first half would have drastically changed the outcome of a 49-15 blowout, what we see from Arians is something completely believable and something that could eventually bring his downfall.

He said the team didn't really start hanging their heads until after Carolina chewed through seven minutes of the second half in their first possession. They were still all in after halftime. That's when the floodgates opened and the belief ended. If Arizona does hit on one or two of those missed plays, Carson Palmer settles down and Arizona plays better.

Of course, there is the underlying message Arians is giving -- it wasn't what the coaching staff did or did not do that caused the loss. It was the players. The plays were there on the field and the players didn't make them.

We hear this from all coaches. There wasn't anything wrong with the plan. The execution was what failed.

This is both good and bad. For a team like the Cardinals, it can build up their belief in themselves. They should have beaten Carolina. And if they execute better, they will. But it doesn't take much for things to go the other way.

The window is open for a title with this team, but we have no idea if it will be after 2016. That means we all have to agree with BA. "Next year, we've got to finish it."