There have been more heartbreaking ways the Cardinals have lost in the 24 seasons I've been covering them, but Sunday, with the slow melt that it was, was rough. The Cardinals should've won. They did not.
"Every loss stinks, quite frankly," quarterback Joshua Dobbs said after the 31-28 defeat. "Obviously when you are up and you feel like you have the game in control, and they come back, that's tough. But however you cut it, a loss stinks.
"We put in a lot of time and effort during the week, our preparation to get ready for Sundays … when you play well and feel you should've won and you don't win, it never feels good."
Jonathan Gannon took the blame on himself. Asked if missing players like Budda Baker was a problem for the defense, Gannon shook his head. No excuses, he said, and mostly it was crazy how Tale-Of-Two-Halves the game ended up being. The defense has to make some plays, the offense has to keep the ball and make sure the defense isn't getting gassed.
The Cardinals won't publicly, but how you don't feel like that was two big missed chances to start the year with victories seems impossible. Next week the Cowboys come to town. I have no doubt the Cardinals will be ready. In this small sample size, Gannon has shown that will happen.
They just have to find a way for it to carry all the way through the fourth quarter.
-- Gannon didn't give an update about the seriousness of safety Budda Baker's hamstring injury, but that's a fingers-crossed thing. The Cardinals need their captain out there and if the hammie is a thing, that's harsh. Gannon also said that he wasn't sure if defensive lineman L.J. Collier will be able to return from his injured biceps, but did say that it's going to take a while even if he were to return.
-- More scary – Gannon acknowledged defensive lineman Carlos Watkins also hurt his biceps against the Giants. There is no way to know if the Collier and Watkins injuries are similar, but usually, when a guy hurts his biceps or triceps or pectoral, it doesn't end with rainbows and unicorns.
-- I'm sure Isaiah Simmons will be happy to get a win against his former team, but he wasn't a factor in the game. One time, when brought as a blitzer, he was completely locked up by undrafted rookie running back Emari Demarcado.
-- Dobbs had tight end Zach Ertz on a deep ball on the game's first possession, and he said later he wished he had it back. It would have been the first deep completion of the season, and he just overthrew Ertz by inches. That drive ended with Matt Prater barely missing a 55-yard field goal left, a miss that didn't seem like it would matter much, until later, when it did.
-- Ertz and Trey McBride look like they will be a nice tight end combo on offense. But tight ends lost a long gain screen for a second straight game – this week McBride, last week Geoff Swaim – because of an unnecessary penalty.
-- The Dobbs 23-yard touchdown run was the longest run of his career. He had a 13-yard run for the Steelers in 2020.
-- He got beat later in the game, but rookie cornerback Kei'Trel Clark continues to impress. His makeup speed to get back and knock away a deep pass to a once wide-open Darius Slayton was excellent.
-- I know I'll get disagreement – understandably so – but I thought OC Drew Petzing called a good game. It's too bad the offense couldn't sustain itself.
-- Dennis Gardeck had his third sack in two games. He was also caught by TV cameras on the Giants' final drive being looked at on the bench. The Cardinals can't afford to lose him.
-- Running back James Conner is the emotional leader of this offense right now, and maybe for the team. The defense has some guys -- Baker, when healthy; Kyzir White -- but Conner is that guy who helps his teammates and the crowd energize.
That's enough for tonight.