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Cardinals Struggle In Season-Opening Loss To Chiefs

Mahomes throws five touchdown passes in 44-21 decision

Cardinals defensive end Zach Allen (94) tries to get to Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes during Sunday's season opener.
Cardinals defensive end Zach Allen (94) tries to get to Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes during Sunday's season opener.

Zach Ertz has played in the NFL long enough to know what happens in Week 1 for an NFL team can often mean nothing to what a team can or will become.

Overreaction to the first week or two of games -- across the league – happens every year.

But there is overreaction and there is plain old reaction, and after the Cardinals played poorly in a 44-21 season-opening loss to the Chiefs at State Farm Stadium Sunday, Ertz knows his team must embrace the latter.

"Everything is put under a microscope in this league, and with a performance like that, it should be," the veteran tight end said. "Everything needs to be dissected. We have to be critical of ourselves, the coaches are going to be very critical of themselves, and we just have to find a way to be better."

Said linebacker Markus Golden, "It ain't a good conversation. Everyone is pissed off."

Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes threw five touchdown passes and was nearly flawless (30-for-39, 360 yards, no turnovers) in what has become his way in opening week games. Mahomes has now started five season openers for Kansas City, winning all five while throwing 18 total TD passes with no interceptions.

The fear was that the Cardinals (0-1) have too many holes defensively, but it's difficult to know exactly where the unit stands after facing Mahomes – who made it clear by his performance he will not miss departed wideout Tyreek Hill.

But Mahomes or no, it doesn't leave a good taste for the Cardinals to surrender more points in the 2022 opener than any game they had last season.

"He went out there and was Patrick Mahomes," linebacker Isaiah Simmons said. "There isn't a whole lot I can say."

The Cardinals did recover a fumble and didn't turn it over themselves. But the Chiefs had 488 yards and averaged 7.4 yards per play, a crazy-high number that isn't going to translate well on the scoreboard.

"We didn't play to our highest capability," Simmons said. "There were a lot of details we may have lacked, but other than that, I think our guys played hard. It's only Week 1, so we've got to get back to the drawing board."

Dating back to last season, the Cardinals (0-1) have lost six straight at home. It was the first time in the Kingsbury/Kyler Murray era that the Cardinals have lost the first game of the season.

For the Cardinals, with backup center Sean Harlow forced to start at right guard and missing defensive end J.J. Watt and wide receiver Rondale Moore among others, they fell behind 14-0 and were never able to climb closer than 13 points. Quarterback Kyler Murray finished 22 of 34 for 193 yards and two touchdowns, and Moore replacement Greg Dortch ended up as the leading pass catcher with seven catches for 63 yards.

"They kicked our ass," Murray said. "We did not execute in the moments we needed to, and that's what happens."

There was a time in which it felt like the Cardinals were still going to be able to make it a game. Facing a fourth-and-2 late in the first half and in field-goal range, Kingsbury chose to go for it – and dialed up a play that would've worked, except Dortch tripped when he was wide open, and the opportunity disappeared.

"You can't kick field goals against them," Kingsbury said. "We were going to be aggressive."

Golden talked about flushing the performance. Murray suggested the loss can be motivating, but at this point, there is no other way to digest it.

"You can either start sulking about it or look at it in the mirror for what it is," Murray said. "Attack it, because it is what it is. It's a long season, we got punched in the mouth. How do you respond?"

There are still 16 more chances to win games, noted defensive end Zach Allen. But he – and everyone else – knows it won't happen if the Cardinals play like they did against the Chiefs.

"They beat us in every way," Kingsbury said. "There's no denying it, no hiding from it.

"We've got to get a lot better in a hurry."