Frostee Rucker shook his head.
He'd been in a tie in 2008 while playing for the Bengals, so this wasn't a new feeling after the Cardinals somehow managed to tie the Seahawks, 6-6, Sunday night at University of Phoenix Stadium. Then again, it wasn't a good feeling either.
"We're frustrated," the defensive tackle said. "We play this game to win the game. We play too hard, we work too hard. To come up with a tie, we almost feel like we lost the game. It may help in the long run somehow, but we're frustrated and we wish we had 15 more minutes to settle that."
It should've been settled. Cardinals kicker Chandler Catanzaro missed a field goal off the left upright from 24 yards out that would've won the game. Luckily for the Cards, Seahawks kicker Steven Hauschka pulled his own 28-yard try left with just a few seconds left.
If ever a game deserved to end in a tie, perhaps this was it.
Bruce Arians made sure he emphasized to his team that it played well – "You didn't lose," he told them – and there were some players that felt that way. Cornerback Patrick Peterson called it a "classic defensive battle" and insisted the Cardinals (3-3-1) can't be upset at the end result.
But as they chase the Seahawks (4-1-1) in the NFC West, it wasn't just that the Cardinals ended up with the NFL's first tie since the Bengals and Panthers knotted at 37 in 2014. It was the knowledge that it shouldn't have been close.
There wasn't a statistic the Cards didn't dominate. First downs were 23-11. Time of possession was 46 minutes, 21 seconds to 28:39. Total yards were 443 to 257. Running back David Johnson even rammed his way to 113 yards rushing, while quarterback Carson Palmer had 342 yards passing with no turnovers.
Yet the Cardinals could not get in the end zone.
"Once we'd get past the (Seattle) 30, it stalled out," wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald said.
The Seahawks had a mere 130 yards of offense in regulation. But because the Cards had scored just a field goal in trips to the Seattle 21 (a blocked field goal try), the Seattle 28 (a Catanzaro kick), the Seattle 25 (the half ran out after Palmer was sacked) and the Seattle 19 (Johnson was stopped on fourth down), the game was only 3-0.
It shouldn't have mattered, the way the Cardinals were playing defense. But with a little less than five minutes left, the Seahawks rushed 10 men on a punt and blocked Ryan Quigley's kick. Recovering at the 22, Seattle's offense did nothing and still got the game-tying field goal.
"We're not scared of them," safety Tyrann Mathieu said. "We know we can play with them. It's just a matter of scoring points at times and creating turnovers."
The teams traded field goals to open overtime, forcing it to sudden death. The Cardinals should've ended it a couple of times.
The first came when wide receiver J.J. Nelson – playing a bigger role with both John Brown and Jaron Brown injured – snared a pass in front of Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman and raced 40 yards. The speedy Nelson looked like he'd score a touchdown, but he was shoved out of bounds by safety Kelcie McCray at the 5.
"I gave it all I had left in the tank," Nelson said, "but I felt like I should've scored. I felt like I let the team down, no question."
Johnson then nearly scored a touchdown on a run – he kicked the pylon, but the official said he was out at the 1, and Arians later said he wasn't sure why it wasn't reviewed – and then was stuffed on a second attempt.
Enter Catanzaro, who looked stunned when the ball pinged off the upright.
"From that distance, you shouldn't miss that in this league," Catanzaro said. "No excuse."
The Cardinals were fortunate Hauschka missed himself, because it would have been a crushing loss. Instead, it was a semi-crushing tie, snapping a two-game losing streak and doing little to help the effort to win the NFC West.
"It was an NFC West battle," Palmer said. "It's never over, it's never easy."