The analysis didn’t have to go very deep.
A minus-three in the turnover category plus 1-for-5 in the red zone equaled a very painful 24-22 loss to the St. Louis Rams Sunday at University of Phoenix Stadium, the first setback of the season for the Cardinals.
“You’re not going to win many games kicking field goals in the red zone and losing the turnover battle,” coach Bruce Arians said, in an opening statement that pretty much summed up the afternoon.
The Cardinals (3-1) gained 447 yards on the Rams’ stellar defense and piled up 26 first downs. But they never could overcome
The defense also got leaky late. After allowing just five rushing yards through the first play of the third quarter, the Cardinals ended up allowing a whopping 164, including 146 to rookie Todd Gurley on just 19 carries.
“It hurts to lose a game at home and in the division,” defensive end
As frustrating -- and there was no better word to describe the locker room after – as it was, the Cardinals still had a chance to win. Taking over on their own 37 with 2:51 left, a 12-yard
“We just couldn’t execute getting in from the red zone like we wanted to,” John Brown said. “I had a great feeling (on the last drive) we were going to go in and score the winning touchdown.”
Instead, a screen to Johnson – which looked like it would have gone for good yardage – was batted down on a nice play by Rams defensive end Robert Quinn. On third down, wide receiver
“From (the) 20 to (the) 20, we moved the football,” wide receiver
The Cardinals came into the game 11-of-12 in the red zone scoring touchdowns.
“You’re not going to come in and go 90 percent against that team in the red zone,” Palmer said. “But you need to go 50 (percent) and we didn’t do that.”
That’s why the statistics were misleading. Fitzgerald had another seven catches for 99 yards. John Brown had seven catches for 75 yards and
But that came early and was the perfect example of the woes near the goal line. Two
The other turnovers came on Johnson’s fumbled return, a Fitzgerald fumble – after a 22-yard catch to get inside Rams territory – and a Palmer deep bomb interception in which John Brown looked like he had a step. Arians said Palmer threw it a little late, and cornerback Janoris Jenkins made a great play to pick the ball, trapping it against his helmet.
“I didn’t make enough plays to help us win,” said Palmer, who completed 29-of-46 passes for 352 yards. “When you’re the quarterback, you need to do that.”
Not only did the Rams score off the Cardinals’ turnovers – 17 points in all -- the Cardinals didn’t benefit from any turnovers themselves for the first time this season. There was one possibility, when running back Benny Cunningham seemed to fumble at his own 9-yard line on the final play of the third quarter.
Rams quarterback Nick Foles was smart with the ball. He only had 16 completions for 171 yards, but he had three touchdown passes. And Gurley, who had exactly minus-two yards rushing after his first attempt of the second half, went crazy in the final 23 minutes of the game.
“Their defense outplayed our defense when it mattered,” cornerback
“In this division, it’s what you’re going to get. If one defense outplays the other defense, they usually win the game.”