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Closer, But Cardinals Come Up Short In Painful Loss To Eagles

Final field-goal attempt is no good in 20-17 defeat

Linebackers Zaven Collins (25) and Isaiah Simmons (9) pressure Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts into a final incompletion in the fourth quarter of the Cardinals' 20-17 loss on Sunday.
Linebackers Zaven Collins (25) and Isaiah Simmons (9) pressure Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts into a final incompletion in the fourth quarter of the Cardinals' 20-17 loss on Sunday.

Matt Ammendola's first interview as a member of the Cardinals came Sunday, after he had pushed wide right the game-tying field goal attempt Sunday against the Eagles, as the kicker answered the inevitable questions.

While that was going on, teammate Justin Pugh circled around the mass of reporters to stand next to Ammendola and put his hand on the kicker's shoulder.

"It's not on one (expletive) guy," Pugh said. "I missed a block, we missed touchdowns, we should've had the ball and been able to score. It's not one (expletive) guy. Everyone (in the media) is waiting for one guy to come back here (to talk). This (expletive) ain't right. It's not right."

Pugh turned to Ammendola before walking away: "Keep your (expletive) head up, we're gonna win games."

Ammendola's 43-yard miss was only the most obvious misstep in a game that the Cardinals (2-3) felt they finally were going to have at home. Instead, they were left with a painful 20-17 loss to the undefeated Philadelphia Eagles (5-0), and the emotions spilled out of not just Pugh afterward.

Quarterback Kyler Murray remained in full uniform more than an hour after it was over, trying hard to come up with the words in a game the Cardinals trailed 14-0 and were able to rally.

"It hits everyone differently," Murray said. "Am I taking it hard? Obviously. But at the end of the day we have to keep going, we have to keep pushing forward. One game. We have a lot of season left.

"We have a great team, a great locker room, and I am confident of everyone in that locker room. We just have to put it together."

The Eagles had taken a three-point lead with 1:45 left, and Murray went to work, executing a final drive that wasn't without mistakes – Murray overthrew a wide-open tight end Zach Ertz at one point in the drive some 25 yards downfield – but that led to what turned out to be a sequence the Cardinals will remember for a while.

With the clock running after a first-down pass at the Philadelphia 34, Murray spiked the ball to kill the clock. On second down, Murray raced up the middle to gain what he – and coach Kliff Kingsbury – thought was 10 yards and another first down.

Except it wasn't. Kingsbury called to spike the ball to save the clock thinking it was first down, and by the time it was realized the officials deemed Murray's slide on the run to be a yard short, a second spike play was already underway.

"I was right there and thought he was clearly past (the line to gain) and they brought it back, and by that time we had committed to clocking it," coach Kliff Kingsbury said.

"I'll have to look it. … At that point, if we had tried to switch to a run, you're scrambling to get your kicker a 'hurricane' field goal."

Kingsbury said it probably didn't make a big difference. The Cardinals might have gained a few more yards in subsequent plays, but he acknowledged being so far from the end zone he likely wouldn't have tried any shots in the end zone and potentially wrecking a chance at the game-tying field goal.

"Obviously, it sucks," Ammendola said. "It's a bad feeling. But you have to keep pushing. You have to bounce back through adversity."

Ammendola said the kick felt good off his foot, and he had felt good all game.

But Pugh's assessment wasn't wrong. Had the Cardinals not again fallen into an early hole – they were down 14-0 in the second quarter and didn't score in the first quarter for a fifth time in five games – the late field goal might not have mattered. If Hollywood Brown hadn't dropped a pass over the middle in stride right before halftime, he might've run all the way to the end zone instead of the drive ending in a short field goal right.

If the defense, which was excellent after the first two Philadelphia touchdowns, had been able to get the Eagles off the field a little sooner on a final field-goal drive that ate up almost eight minutes of the fourth quarter, there would've been more time to work with at the end.

Even the bad luck hit wrong – safety Jalen Thompson got the wind knocked out of him on the final Eagles pass attempt that fell incomplete prior to the last field goal, but even with the clock stopped the Cardinals were forced to burn their last timeout for the injury.

"It's kind of frustrating," Thompson said. "We wanted to get them three-and-out obviously, but what can we do. That's just one of those things. We ended up getting a stop at the end trying to give our offense a chance. We've just got to close it out."

Instead, there was frustration and, yes, anger.

"We're not pleased at all, we're not happy, the mood is low," said Ertz, who had six catches for 48 yards in his first game against his former team. "Particularly because we haven't won at home in a while and we're all frustrated. We're going to get that solved."

The Cardinals were down to one running back at the end of the game, with Eno Benjamin shouldering the load after James Conner (ribs), Darrel Williams (knee) and Jonathan Ward (hamstring) all left with injuries.

Murray completed 28-of-42 passes for 250 yards, riding Brown (8-78-1) and Rondale Moore (7-68) into a rally that came up just short.

"At the end of the game, we had a chance," Murray said. "We had a chance, and that's all you can ask for."

Game action photos from the Cardinals' 20-17 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles during Week 5 of the 2022 NFL regular season