What do the Cardinals want for Christmas?
I mean, a lot comes to mind. I'm not just talking about wins, even though that'd be at the top of the list. I'm sure having Kyler click with his wideouts would be in there. Probably a new wideout, period. A defense that had that one edge dude that scared opponents.
There are plenty of things (I am guessing if I opened it up to fans, the list would have 100 suggestions.) But on this Christmas Eve, after a 27-16 loss to the Bears, it's about in the moment and teams don't make changes on Christmas. They make roster changes in March and April and May.
Linebacker Dennis Gardeck, who is a guy the Cardinals want to have on this roster, knows a 21-0 deficit isn't good. But he does like how the Cardinals didn't let the game get sideways.
"It's frustrating but -- and I don't know if you can call it a silver lining -- our ability to stay calm, focus and execute the next play is something that makes this team exciting to be on," Gardeck said. "That's winning culture right there, not flinching in the face of adversity. Being able to battle. Being able to take the coaching."
The Cardinals can only play spoiler in their last two games, at Philly and home against Seattle. Let's see if they can gift themselves at least that.
-- The Cardinals' sack-less streak came to an end. It nearly was over on the Bears' first TD drive, when Dante Stills had a big third-down sack – but rookie cornerback Starling Thomas was flagged for a defensive hold. So the streak ended somewhat anticlimactically – Gardeck got his sixth sack of the season when he forced Justin Fields out of bounds at the line of scrimmage on a scramble. (The Bears still scored a touchdown on the drive.)
-- Matt Prater, kicker extraordinaire, booted a 55-yard field goal, his ninth of the season from at least 50 yards – two short of the NFL record. Prater also has six of at least 55 yards.
-- That field goal was set up by a great kickoff return by Greg Dortch, a 40-yarder that was the team's longest of the season. Dortch seems to make at least one play every game when given the chance (or two, like his 38-yard TD catch later.)
-- To top off the special teams specialness, punter Blake Gillikin launched a season-best 77-yard punt, key after a rough three-and-out in the Cardinals' own end. (Although Bears punter Trenton Gill kicked a 76-yard punt earlier in the game in the same direction, so the Windy City may have been living up to its name.)
-- I know I saw it every week, but James Conner is underrated because he'll never have the most shiny stats, but man, he is a guy you want on your team.
-- Rookie linebacker Owen Pappoe got the start inside alongside Krys Barnes with Josh Woods now on IR; the Cardinals have started an NFL-most 11 rookies at some point this season.
-- Defensive lineman Jonathan Ledbetter left with a knee injury and was on crutches leaving the locker room, and for a unit that has had more than its share of hurtache, that's another blow.
-- With cornerback Garrett Williams down, the Cardinals did not turn to rookie Kei'Trel Clark or Marco Wilson, each of whom have started a number of games this season. Instead the Cards moved safety Jalen Thompson into the slot and used Andre Chachere as a third safety.
-- Thompson's four interceptions this season are a career-high.
-- That's all for tonight. Time to fly home. Hope everyone reads this and then has visions of sugar plums dancing in their head tonight. Not that I am sure what a sugar plum is. Do you just drop a plum in sugar and hope it sticks?