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Cardinals Fight Familar Issues In Loss To Lions

Penalties, Kyler Murray interceptions costly in 26-23 setback

Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray dives for a touchdown during Sunday's 26-23 loss to the Lions at State Farm Stadium.
Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray dives for a touchdown during Sunday's 26-23 loss to the Lions at State Farm Stadium.

Kyler Murray was matter-of-fact in his assessment, as obvious it may have been to him or anyone else after the Cardinals' disappointing loss to the Lions Sunday.

"When you believe you should've won the game and you didn't do the necessary things to win the game, it's going to be frustrating," said Murray, who accounted for three touchdowns but also threw three interceptions during the 26-23 setback at State Farm Stadium.

"We had every opportunity to win that game, and kind of just let it slip away. I feel like if I didn't do what I did today, we win the game."

Kliff Kingsbury was also sharing the blame, saying at one point "my playcall selection was very suspect" late in the game.

There were multiple things wrong with what the Cardinals did, and yet it still came down to a Matt Prater 39-yard field goal on the final play of the game to hand the Cards (2-1) their first loss of the season.

Frankly, that just made the feeling worse.

"I'm pissed," defensive tackle Corey Peters said, matter-of-factly. "In this league, you get what you earn. Today, we earned a loss."

The fourth quarter was painful in how it unfolded, the Cardinals leading by a field goal after the second of two touchdown passes to the emerging Andy Isabella and continued domination by DeAndre Hopkins (10 catches, 137 yards.)

Forcing a punt, the Cards were stuck at their own 2. But there were times Sunday when they looked like they would have no trouble moving the ball at will against the Lions, which had to thrill the approximately 700 family and friends of players, coaches and staff attending for a limited "crowd."

Then the Cards would get a penalty. Or Murray threw an interception. In the case of their first fourth-quarter possession, it led to an ugly three-and-out which allowed the Lions to score the game-tying field goal. It looked like no worries after Hopkins made a 12-yard catch and Kenyan Drake burst for another 14 yards.

But a Drake run got one yard, a backshoulder throw to KeeSean Johnson was broken up, and then a bomb to Johnson in double-coverage never really had a chance. Murray acknowledged on the latter, Isabella was wide open.

"I made a bad read," Murray said.

The Cards punted. And the Lions never gave the ball back.

"We had a lot of chances to put the game away," Kingsbury said, adding "you give that quarterback, a Pro Bowl player, the ball last, he's going to beat you."

The Lions (1-2), who had lost 11 straight dating back to last season, were pinned at their own 9 with 4:49 left. But quarterback Matthew Stafford was excellent, completing four passes in the last drive for 61 yards – and that was after a 52-yard completion down to the Arizona 1 was called back after a holding penalty.

While the Cardinals were turning the ball over, the Lions did not. Stafford threw for 270 yards and two scores, and the ageless Adrian Peterson rushed for a game-high 75 yards.

"We're disappointed," Peters said. "I think we were inconsistent the entire game and were lucky to be in a position to try and get off the field and get a stop and get a chance to win that game.

"With a tie game, starting at their own 9, we have to find a way to get off the field."

The offense also has to find the consistency it seeks. Isabella's game was nice, but Larry Fitzgerald was targeted only three times, his lone catch accounting for zero yards. Kingsbury took the blame for that too, saying he needed to find a way to get the ball to the "heart and soul" of the team.

"It happens," Isabella said. "We were 2-0, we came in a little on our high horse. We've got to execute better. We can't get comfortable."

Murray has to steady his up-and-down play too. His first touchdown pass to Isabella was a thing of beauty. But the three picks were disappointing, and there should have been a fourth that was dropped. One was tipped by tight end Dan Arnold, a play on which Murray said his arm was hit. One was a "user error," a pass that should've been a completion. Another "bad read" came on an interception trying to get the ball to Fitzgerald.

The legs of Murray also couldn't jump-start the offense either – he did have a highlight-reel TD run, but only gained 29 yards on five carries.

The Cardinals have back-to-back East coast trips to Carolina and New York (for the Jets). They have a safety problem, with Pro Bowler Budda Baker expected to have thumb surgery this week, fellow starter Jalen Thompson (ankle) already on IR and replacement starter Chris Banjo leaving Sunday's game with a hamstring injury.

Those are issues that can be overcome. But only if the Cardinals – and their quarterback – can find their way.

"If I don't turn the ball over three times today, we put ourselves in a better spot to win that game," Murray said. "It's over now. It's on to the next game. We've just got to be better."

Images from the Week 3 matchup against Detroit

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