MINNEAPOLIS – The frustration was apparent, from the muted voices postgame to players declining interviews to the expletives flying through the walls as players got into the locker room.
The Cardinals still had a slow start, and still leaned on DeAndre Hopkins. But they also did something Sunday at U.S. Bank Stadium that they really had done all season, and that was turn the ball over. They knew it, and yet, there was no getting it back.
"It (expletive) sucks," said quarterback Kyler Murray, after the Cardinals fell to the Minnesota Vikings, 34-26. "Losing that one, man, it felt like … self-inflicted again."
But Murray, who had said the games felt "hard" after the loss in Seattle, wasn't going there again when asked.
"No, no, no," Murray said. "I felt like today the team played well. A couple mishaps, a couple mistakes here cost us."
The Cardinals (3-5) missed a chance to get back to .500 on the season, and missed a chance to finally win a game in Minnesota for the first time since the franchise's 1988 move to the desert (now spanning 11 tries).
Some of the season-long issues – like the inability to jump ahead and playclock management – could've been overcome. The turnovers could not.
"You can't put yourself in those situations," coach Kliff Kingsbury said. "On the road, against a good team, inside our own 40 twice. You're not beating this team doing that."
The Cardinals took a 17-14 lead in the third quarter, perhaps improbably. But the Vikings answered with a drive of their own for a touchdown, and then the turnovers began.
Murray tried to go deep to Robbie Anderson, but the pass was woefully short and intercepted, leading to a Dalvin Cook touchdown on a short drive and a 28-17 lead. The Cardinals immediately responded with a 38-yard catch-and-run Rondale Moore touchdown and then Isaiah Simmons got a strip-sack of his own. The Cardinals were in perfect shape to retake the lead.
But they were held to a field goal when center Billy Price snapped the ball before Murray was ready on third down at the Minnesota 11 to make it a two-point game, and even though the Cards forced a punt, Greg Dortch muffed the kick, the Vikings recovered and quickly extended the lead with a 25-yard TD "drive."
"It's always bad when you turn the ball over, especially against a good team like this," Hopkins said. "They are banking on you making mistakes."
"Obviously," Hopkins said, "you guys can see we're right there."
The Cardinals had multiple chances to get a potential tying TD, but Murray threw another interception on one throw to tight end Zach Ertz and the other died six inches from a fourth-down conversion when former Cardinals linebacker Jordan Hicks pulled down running back Eno Benjamin down after a catch.
Murray said he was hit on the Anderson interception and shouldn't have released the ball. He said the second came because he and Ertz "weren't on the same page."
Hopkins had another 100-yard day – 12 catches for 159 yards and a spectacular one-handed touchdown catch – and Rondale Moore had seven catches for 92 yards and a score.
Murray had his best statistical game of the season, going 31-for-44 for 326 yards and a season-best three touchdowns. Murray said he thought the offense played well, and they did move the ball and scored four times. But the interceptions were killer.
Murray also said the defense played well enough to win, although it did surrender 381 yards.
"The details, that's as far as it goes," cornerback Byron Murphy said. "The small details that come with the game, stuff that you know you have to nail as a team, that's what we need.
"Plays happen. Good and bad, that happens in the NFL. This one, it's not what we wanted. We have to get back to work."
The Cardinals now have a stretch of three straight NFC West games, starting with a home rematch against the Seahawks in a week. If there is going to be any movement toward a postseason berth, all three loom large.
"It's very frustrating but we'll get over it," Murray said. "Everything we want is in front of us."
Game action photos from the Cardinals' 34-26 loss to the Minnesota Vikings during Week 8 of the 2022 NFL regular season