Wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald fights for yards during Sunday's 30-27 loss in Baltimore.
BALTIMORE – The voices were quiet, but the message was virtually the same, with hints of disgust.
"I'm in disbelief," wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald said, and it was hard not to be, after the Cardinals watched the Baltimore Ravens rally from a three-touchdown deficit at M&T Bank Stadium to eventually stun the Cards with a 30-27 victory on a field goal for the final play of the game.
"Coming up short," Fitzgerald said, "is definitely getting old."
That the Cardinals (1-6) were going to snap their losing streak against the Ravens (5-2) was improbable, yet that's how the first half played out. It was the Ravens succumbing to their offensive demons, not the Cards. It was the Cardinals who got the gutty effort from gimpy running back Beanie Wells (83 yards and a touchdown).
It was the Cardinals who got the turnovers, one from a strip-sack from O'Brien Schofield to set up one TD and a tipped interception from defensive back Richard Marshall to set up another. It was the Cards with the big special teams play, an 82-yard punt return touchdown from Patrick Peterson.
"We wanted to prove we were a good football team," Wells said.
That's how the first half felt.
"We were trying to preach it at halftime," said quarterback Kevin Kolb, who was wearing a boot on his right foot after with an injury the nature of which he said he wasn't yet sure.
"You know what things they were going to do. I don't think it was losing focus. It was just lack of execution."
There was a touch of what was coming late in the first half, with Baltimore trailing, 24-3. Struggling Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco started looking for former Cardinal Anquan Boldin often, and it eventually changed the game.
The Ravens got a field goal to wrap up the first half and then opened the second half with a touchdown drive. Every play eventually seemed like it went to Boldin, who had seven catches for 145 yards and drew multiple penalties.
"We woke up," Boldin said. "Plain and simple."
With two pass interference calls in their own end zone and a third at the Arizona 3-yard line, the Cardinals couldn't stop easy setups for running back Ray Rice's career-best three touchdowns rushing. The Ravens found ways to harrass starting cornerbacks A.J. Jefferson, Peterson along with Marshall, almost all of which had to do with Boldin.
"We tried to do a number of things (on Boldin)," Cardinals coach Ken Whisenhunt said. "That's what Anquan does."
The Ravens' defense, meanwhile completely stymied the Cardinals in the second half. The Cards only gained 56 yards total in the final two quarters, unable to ever really give themselves a shot to take back control of the game.
Kolb, who said he was injured on the first play of the game, completed only 10-of-21 passes for 153 yards – 66 of which came on one early pass to Fitzgerald – and was sacked six times. At one point, Whisenhunt benched right tackle Brandon Keith in favor of Jeremy Bridges because of protection problems.
The defense, meanwhile, couldn't slow the Ravens enough. With the score tied at 27, Baltimore had a second-and-7 at the Arizona 41 with a little more than a minute left, Flacco – who ended up with 336 yards passing – hit rookie Torrey Smith for a 36-yard gain, beating Marshall, who was in for the struggling Jefferson.
It was a microcosm of the comeback, and made the final dagger – Billy Cundiff's 25-yard field goal to end it – anticlimactic.
"This one hurt a little more," Schofield said. "We had the game and we gave it away."
Said defensive end Calais Campbell, "We needed that win."
Instead, it's another loss, knowing that next week's opponent, the previously winless St. Louis Rams, managed to complete their own huge upset, knocking off the Saints to tie the Cards in the NFC West.
"We don't have a lights out mentality to finish teams off," safety Adrian Wilson said. "I just don't know if we're there yet."