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Chris Streveler Loses Backup Quarterback Duel To John Wolford

Cardinals' offense struggles in season-ending loss to Rams

Backup quarterback Chris Streveler was unable to spark the Cardinals' offense against the Rams.
Backup quarterback Chris Streveler was unable to spark the Cardinals' offense against the Rams.

In the shadows of Hollywood, one little-known quarterback was going to have a star turn on Sunday afternoon.

It did not turn out to be Chris Streveler.

The Cardinals' reserve signal-caller, forced into action due to a Kyler Murray ankle injury, was unable to outduel Rams' backup John Wolford in the 18-7 loss in the season finale.

Wolford, whose last meaningful game action came with the Arizona Hotshots of the AAF, threw for 231 yards, ran for 56 more and generally kept the Rams' offense moving.

Streveler, who most recently played for the Winnipeg Blue Bombers of the CFL, was 9-of-13 passing for 77 yards and a touchdown on a shovel pass, but threw a pick-six and was unable to spark the offense.

The Cardinals scored on a short field off a Jordan Hicks interception on Streveler's first series but failed to put up any more points.

"I was trying to stay within myself and manage the game, and make plays when available," Streveler said. "I put in a lot of work throughout the week to be ready, and that's the job as a backup. I felt like I was today. Just didn't make enough plays, bottom line."

The Cardinals had a pair of key opportunities that failed when Streveler was in the game. They led 7-5 late in the first half, and the offense got the ball into field goal range.

Streveler thought he drew the Rams offside on a second down, so he threw a risky pass intended for Trent Sherfield because he believed there was no downside.

Troy Hill intercepted it and returned it 84 yards for a score, and there was no flag on the play. The Cardinals went from a possibly ahead 10-5 at intermission to trailing 12-7.

"I had a hard count and I thought we got them to jump," Streveler said. "That's how we coach it. Snap the ball if you think they jumped. I thought we had a free play. Tried to put the ball in play and give them a chance. Just didn't get the call on that."

Streveler had the Cardinals on the move again in the third quarter, and chucked a deep pass to DeAndre Hopkins on first down. Hopkins caught it inside the Los Angeles 10, but was called for offensive pass interference. He then drew an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty, resulting in a first-and-35 to effectively end the drive.

Murray returned to the game early in the fourth quarter before Streveler finished things off in garbage time.

"For me, I'm just going to use this experience and learn from it, use it to motivate me through the offseason and come back a better player because of it," Streveler said.

Coach Kliff Kingsbury went with Streveler over the more experienced Brett Hundley as the backup. Hundley helped the Cardinals upset the Seahawks last season after Murray left that game with a hamstring injury.

When asked if he had any regrets in choosing Streveler over Hundley in a game of this magnitude, Kingsbury said "not at all." Hundley was inactive, and Kingsbury felt comfortable with that because Murray, who hurt his leg against the 49ers last week, was fine in practice.

"We felt Kyler was good to go," Kingsbury said. "He had a good week of practice. It wasn't the same injury."

Wolford had a better setup entering the game, as he was able to practice all week with the Rams' starters. Streveler was thrown into the mix when Murray was injured on the first series.

"As the backup, you don't get a ton of reps with the first-string offense, but I do get a lot of reps on scout team," Streveler said. "For me, I tried to take those reps as serious as possible. Make them as game-like, going through my reads."

Wolford and Streveler both have mobility, but Los Angeles was able to take better advantage of its quarterback's legs. Wolford had a few critical first down runs, including on a zone read to effectively ice the win in the fourth quarter.

"I thought he played tough," Kingsbury said of Wolford. "He made enough plays to win the game."