At one point, Kyler Murray noted that Sunday’s game with the Rams was close, even if it didn't feel like it much of the time. The funny thing is, he was right.
This isn't to say the Cardinals played well. Or there aren't concerns. Anyone saying that now is disingenuous at best. But whether it was the Rams stalling at times themselves or the Cardinals making some things happen at least some of the time, the game truly is different if the Cards had just put one of those achingly long drives into the end zone.
But there's the rub, isn't it? It's the fact this offense can't find that consistency that Kyler or Kliff Kingsbury keep referencing but cannot find. There was the death-by-1,000-papercuts offense most of the day Sunday, but the Cardinals couldn't figure out if it was going to be the Rams or themselves who would end up doing the dying. The scoreboard made the ultimate determination.
I've said this since the Hopkins suspension was known – if the Cardinals can somehow go .500 in those six games, they could come out of this OK. They are in a hole, but they have the Panthers and Seahawks as two of the next three games (and the red-hot Eagles) so it's not out of the question.
But yes, they better start playing better. And they better start … starting. The Cardinals have yet to lead in regulation this season. That'd be a good place to begin.
-- The third field goal Matt Prater kicked Sunday pushed him over the 16,000-point mark for his career. He now has 16,005 points in his career.
-- Rough night for veteran wide receiver A.J. Green. On the same play in which he dropped a pass, he came down oddly and grabbed his left knee – a knee that had already been bothering him earlier in the game. He left and did not return. If he is out, the top four available Cardinals wide receivers are Hollywood Brown (5-foot-9), Greg Dortch (5-7), Andy Isabella (5-9) and Andre Baccellia (5-10). One of the reasons the Cardinals want Green in there is because of his size.
-- Tight end Zach Ertz nearly pulled in a touchdown catch on the Cardinals' first scoring drive, and he was still thinking about it postgame.
"I did not play well," Ertz said. "I've got to play better. I hold myself to a high standard. The ball is in the air, especially in the red zone, we've got to make the play. I let the team down a couple of times. It's frustrating, but I've got to improve."
-- Ertz wasn't the only one who couldn't bring in expected catches during the game. Running back James Conner, the play after Ertz couldn't bring it in, dropped a ball near the goal line on third down. A catch and the Cardinals likely go for it; instead, they kicked. There were a few other plays during the game that catches weren't made.
"I tell guys all the time, you've got to be awake playing with me," Murray said. "No matter what the play is. I've got free reign to do whatever, get it to whoever. When you're asleep and you don't think you're getting the ball, we can't play like that. Everybody is going to be lit up, in the game, locked in."
-- Isaiah Simmons didn't start again and, while snap counts won't be out until Monday morning, it seemed like he might have played less than the week before (although the Rams only had 46 offensive plays so maybe that was inevitable.)
-- The offense wasn't the only one that missed plays that could've changed things. Cornerback Marco Wilson almost had an interception in the end zone on the Rams' first field-goal drive, albeit it would've been a good play. Then there was the Zaven Collins' near-sack with the Cardinals owning all momentum and down only 13-9. It was third down. Collins couldn't bring down Matthew Stafford, he threw a pass for a first down, and the Rams went on to score a touchdown on the drive.
-- There were a couple of key injuries besides Green. Collins left with a shoulder injury, and defensive lineman Rashard Lawrence exited with a hand injury that left him with a cast on the hand postgame.
That's enough for tonight. On to Carolina.