The last two weeks of the season can either be the most exciting time to be an NFL fan or you get a game that ends up being a total snoozefest.
But sometimes there’s a game that pops up where plays are made and this was the case for the Arizona Cardinals this New Year’s Day.
For starters we saw J.J. Watt finally get back to double-digit sacks this season
.@JJWatt’s been doing this his whole career— NFL (@NFL) January 1, 2023
: #AZvsATL on FOX
: Stream on NFL+ https://t.co/PTJ6NCkepx pic.twitter.com/IBsxRbId1F
The story of the first half was the turnovers. The Cardinals had a punt blocked in their own end zone but also took it away on a bad snap from the Falcons and punched it in with the first touchdown of Trey McBride’s career.
Leki Foot recovers a fumble to give the Cardinals prime real estate in the red zone and it leads to a TD pass from Blough to Trey McBride.— Josh Weinfuss (@joshweinfuss) January 1, 2023
The second half, both defenses stepped up, with Arizona missing a field goal on a low snap to Andy Lee by Matt Prater (that cost them) and a 4th down stand by the Falcons against a banged up James Conner.
Conner had spent time on the bike and Corey Clement had been getting more snaps than usual.
Injuries was a story as guys like Conner and Simmons spent time on the sideline only to return, and Trey McBride had his best game of the season.
But in the end a 4th down stand by the Panthers vs. a banged up Conner and dink-and-dunk driving running right over Arizona (giving up a 3rd and 7 through a threading of the needle by Ridder) for the Panthers to run the clock down and kick it for a 20-19 win.
It’s been a rough year for Cardinals fans but at least the draft offers some hope.
Arizona saw all three teams ahead of them in draft position, the Texans, Bears and Broncos lose as well, so their draft position didn’t change, only locked them into a top 6 pick.
The Cardinals saw quite a bit of success with David Blough, who made some plays with his legs and pushed the ball deep, and it makes sense why they benched McSorley for him as they seemed to be a much more competent offense.
However, the offense couldn’t close and two major special teams errors (a blocked punt and a low snap) gave the Falcons life and the defense couldn’t make a play when they needed to the most.
Credit Desmond Ridder, the rookie, but this Cardinals team continued doing what they’ve been doing all year.
Losing close, winnable games and going nowhere fast.