For the second week in a row, the Cardinals got off to a hot start in the first quarter with a score and a defensive stand.
However, it felt very different from the game against the Patriots in which the Cardinals defense was annihilating the Patriots offense and running the ball well.
Kyler Murray and the Offense held the ball for just over 4 minutes and he only had ONE completion. But fortunately it was a 59 yard touchdown to Dan Arnold. The Rams went for it on 4th and 6 rather than punting or attempting a 57 yard field goal and Arizona showed their mettle by holding on defense.
Both teams seemed to have some early defensive plays but then the game turned into almost a no contest.
Arizona couldn’t get a first down to save their life. The Rams, meanwhile, drove down the field and DOMINATED in time of possession.
Kyler looked as lost as he had been the last few weeks. Simply contained in the pocket and not even looking to Hopkins, he held onto the ball too long, the OL let up pressure and they looked absolutely HOPELESS on offense.
Credit to the Cardinal defense for holding out long as they did despite averaging under 1 yard per play on offense outside of the TD to Arnold.
In the end, AZ’s defense broke but putting Kyler in to a quick no-huddle up-tempo offense finally got the Cards in a rhythm. Hopkins got a touchdown but it was a 4th and 12 play to KeeSean Johnson that got the team to the goal-line and a pass on 3rd down to Hopkins sealed the deal making it a 3 point game.
Now, regrettably, this is the spot where the Cardinals’ defense has had to hold coming off of a score to keep them in the game.
And in recent weeks? They’ve been unable to get a stop or force a turnover.
A long drive and touchdown to Hopkins got it in there and then the Rams went down on a long drive, keeping Goff clean and ended with him sneaking it in after a Patrick Peterson holding penalty (that wasn’t needed) on 3rd down.
Offense finally shows some life and then the defense gets absolutely manhandled on the ensuing Rams' drive.— Vince Marotta (@Vincemarotta) December 6, 2020
Rams were able to score and force a 3 and out and it looked like Arizona was heading toward letting the game get away.....and then after weeks of struggles on special teams, the Cardinals found a way to make a play by Chase Edmonds.
And the state of Arizona said “boy, did we need that.”
But of course the Rams are undefeated when they have a lead to start the second half for a reason...the Rams simply booted, drove down and a long TD run by Henderson Jr. and you felt like the Cards just....just....
At the end of the day this defense can't make plays when it matters.— Yup (@SCoxFB) December 6, 2020
In the end, it felt like Arizona had “too little too late”. And even though the team found a way to hang in there, when the chips were down.
Kyler fumbled the ball and even tho the Rams missed a field goal, a pick 6 ended the game essentially for the Cardinals to take on what would be their 5th straight loss.
So.....who’s to blame?
Has the NFL figured out Kyler? Is Kliff unable to adjust?
No, for my money there’s a deeper issue.
Rams are a more talented team that’s better coached and has better talent. Doesn’t mean you let go of Kliff or Vance first thing, but rather the blame needs to be directed on Steve Keim and his team-building.
The Cardinals kept Patrick Peterson, chose to build up their defense over the last year and it’s been improved but...still gives up 31 to the Rams consistently.
It’s struggling to find anything, ANYTHING outside of Kyler and Hopkins and occasionally, Chase Edmonds.
I think the fingers could be pointed all over the roster but to me the biggest one needs to be pointed at the players on the team who aren’t stepping up.
Christian Kirk with 1 catch for 2 yards.
Pat P for a dropped pick, bad penalty and seeing Cooper Kupp go off.
Jordan Hicks looking like a zombie where Goff went off to his tight ends knowing that Campbell and Simmons couldn’t cover them the whole time.
Vance & Kliff perhaps didn’t adjust well or enough...but to me it all hangs on expectations.
Fans expected Kirk to be back to being a #2 and Isabella to become a weapon. Peterson was expected to improve and the team signed Kennard and Phillips to make plays.
They even paid D.J. Humphries, who was getting some pro bowl love, and he got bested multiple times on the edge. And they’ve trusted Kyler Murray.
That’s how fans feel given they’ve dropped games they should be winning and teams are figuring them out while Arizona’s struggling to push further as a team.
Right now? I can just think of this tweet looking at the post-Fitz future...
With the loss, the Cardinals are now "behind schedule" in the playoff race, as @SCoxFB and I talked about in the podcast.— Jess Root (@senorjessroot) December 7, 2020
You want to feel good playing the NFC East the next two weeks, but the Giants just beat the Seahawks, so....
And my hope is that it isn’t too little, too late for the Cards with them currently on the outside of the playoffs and trending down.