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Cardinals Can't Close Out Giants In Difficult Loss During Home Opener

Despite offensive improvement and big lead, New York escapes with 31-28 decision

Cardinals quarterback Joshua Dobbs breaks free for his 23-yard touchdown run on Sunday.
Cardinals quarterback Joshua Dobbs breaks free for his 23-yard touchdown run on Sunday.

His first 100-yard game of the season was done, an effort that really should have meant more for the Cardinals.

But the scoreboard read as a loss when James Conner and his teammates left the State Farm Stadium field on Sunday afternoon, a painful 31-28 decision to the New York Giants that rendered moot Conner's day, or the improvement of quarterback Joshua Dobbs, or what had been one of the team's finest halves they've ever played.

Defeat clouds everything.

"I'm really sick to my stomach," Conner said. "I'm hurt. Not discouraged, but I am hurt for sure. We're in this thing together. We put up a few more points than last week, but it still wasn't enough."

It was more than a few. Four offensive touchdowns compared to none in Week 1 creates a much different prism through which to play a game, and the Cardinals (0-2) were living exactly how coach Jonathan Gannon would've wanted.

At halftime it was 20-0 in favor of the Cardinals, and it was 28-7 midway through the third quarter.

"Exactly what we couldn't do to lose that game coming out of halftime, we did," Gannon said.

The Giants (1-1) hadn't overcome a 21-point deficit since 1949. But they couldn't be stopped in the second half, when they gained 358 yards, scoring four straight touchdowns and then capping the comeback with a 34-yard Graham Gano field goal with 19 seconds left.

The Cardinals answered the second-half opening touchdown drive of the Giants with one of their own – but netted just 29 yards on their next three possessions, all punts, before their last ditch possession to end the game while the Giants kept creeping closer and closer.

Gannon repeatedly took the blame for the Cardinals' breakdowns, but the opportunities were still there even as the Giants rallied.

"We've got to finish," Dobbs said. "We had the ball in our hands in a tie game, and we have to give ourselves a chance to finish by executing and playing the same way we played throughout the game."

The Cardinals surpassed their total yardage from their season-opening loss before the second quarter was half over. Dobbs looked considerably more comfortable and ended up completing 21-of-31 passes for 228 yards, threw a touchdown pass to Hollywood Brown and had an impressive 23-yard touchdown run.

That was plenty when the Cardinals were making life miserable for Giants quarterback Daniel Jones in the first half. But then the Cardinals couldn't get off the field in the second half as Jones threw for 259 yards and two touchdowns and ran for a third.

"The switch flipped because of all of the mistakes that we kept making," safety K'Von Wallace said.

If the Cardinals can get Conner to have those kind of games – he finished with 106 yards and a touchdown – it can only help an offense that did make the jump Dobbs had promised.

But after two straight games where the Cardinals have seen a fourth-quarter lead evaporate, finding a win in any manner is what is desperately needed now.

"We didn't complete the mission," Conner said.