Winner: Chandler Jones
Chandler joined a VERY exclusive club this week with a sack against the Steelers:
Chandler Jones currently has 13.0 sacks in 2019.— Mark Dalton (@CardsMarkD) December 8, 2019
He now has 13+ sacks in each of the last 3 seasons.
In NFL history only one player has ever had 13+ in more consecutive seasons: Reggie White, 4 (1985-88 & 1990-93). pic.twitter.com/BoPXRSsTBx
The perpetually underrated Jones continues to do nothing but dominate and be overlooked in the desert:
Chandler Jones’ 55.0 sacks since joining the Cardinals in 2016 are by far he most in the NFL over that span. pic.twitter.com/5ZvNHnoQWW— Mark Dalton (@CardsMarkD) December 8, 2019
Loser: Kyler Murray
Ouch x 3.
Kyler had perhaps his 2nd worst game of the season a week after his worst game of the season, including his most baffling play so far in his NFL career where he had at minimum a first down, at most a touchdown, only to throw the ball right to T.J. Watt.
Murray had 3 picks on the day and Kingsbury pointed out that two of them were on 4th down in desperation situations. Still, they were costly for Arizona even if the last one was on a Hail Mary and the 3 INT game might hurt a record Kyler was looking to set of the lowest INT % for the Cardinals.
He looks to have regressed a bit in the last two games to look more like the rookie he is.
Winner: Diontae Johnson
There is always a player who seems to go off against Arizona. From Sanders to Samuel to Higbee to Woods, this was the Diontae Johnson game.
Johnson wasn’t able to be guarded by anyone from Patrick Peterson to Byron Murphy and went off for 6 catches for 60 yards and a touchdown, including a reverse of field that was very similar to last week and had 2 punts for 87 yards and a touchdown.
The Cardinals defense got taken to town by a backup RB, rookie WR and a 4th string quarterback and that sadly was the least surprising thing of the game.
Loser: Good Decisions
Some questioned Kliff Kingsbury choosing to go for it on 4th down and Kyler Murray throwing an interception, but nothing was more baffling than Mike Tomlin’s called (?) fake punt up 20-10 that not only got the Cardinals back in the game but put them right in Steeler territory.
And then at the end they gave Arizona extra time by throwing the ball on 2nd down (OC Randy Fitchner has been criticized by quite a few Steeler fans this season) but it turned out not to matter.
Still, it was fascinating to say the least as it kept it a closer game than it likely had any right to be.
Winner: Cardinals’ efforts after the 1st quarter
I thought the Cardinals after that punt return and Kyler’s interception were going to roll over like they did against the Rams.
To their credit, they forced a fumble on defense and got right back in it. And that’s encouraging to see.
Even though Arizona isn’t favored likely in any future games this season, the team had a chance to get the W down in the fourth quarter again and despite some lackadaisical effort at times (SMH Patrick Peterson again with lacking tackling).
Loser: Confidence in Kingsbury
There’s been confidence lost in about everyone this season. From the defensive coordinator Vance Joseph to the Cards GM and also the owner Michael Bidwill himself.
The latest victim of that was Kliff Kingsbury, who has had people questioning if he’s fit to call plays or be a head coach in the NFL after his less than traditional hire out of Texas Tech’s football program.
I totally get the feeling, but it’s hard to see in year 1 after Kyle Shanahan started 0-8 with an arguably more talented roster outside of QB and Kingsbury’s got more growing pains in his first year in the league.
Still, it’s been that rough of a two week stretch to where people will start to wonder if jettisoning everything is the answer. And in that case, the fans, of course, turn out to be the biggest losers once again.