It was not the performance on the national stage the Cardinals wanted.
It wasn't a performance the Cardinals would want ever, anywhere.
“Definitely an embarrassing effort tonight,” coach Steve Wilks said after his team was beaten up, 45-10, by the Broncos on “Thursday Night Football” at State Farm Stadium. “Our fans deserve more than that. We have to come out and perform better than that.”
It was bad enough that Wilks knew the questions were coming about potential changes, and answered it before it was even asked – although he didn’t name any names in particular.
“That’s premature, to talk about changes right now,” Wilks added. “Everybody is going to be evaluated across the board. As I said before, we have to find ways to get this going in the right direction.
“Not acceptable, and our fans deserve better.”
Josh Rosen had his very first pass tipped and intercepted by Broncos linebacker Todd Davis, who returned it 20 yards for a touchdown. It never got any better. By the time the first half was over, the Broncos got a 28-yard touchdown pass from wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders to Courtland Sutton and a 64-yard scoring bomb from quarterback Case Keenum to Sanders.
They also got a second pick-6, when Broncos cornerback Chris Harris had an interception come right to him -- receiver J.J. Nelson said he didn’t see the safety jumping into his path, interrupting his route -- and returned it 53 yards for a touchdown. Denver got two sacks each from star pass rushers Von Miller and Bradley Chubb.
Rosen was sacked six times total and turned the ball over five times – three interceptions and two lost fumbles. He hurt his toe on his final play, a sack, but said he was fine.
“There’s an old saying I got in college from one of my coaches,” Rosen said. “ ‘Don’t turn a car crash into a fatality.’ Sometimes you have to just make the smart play, and I can’t just toss it up there.
“I even got lucky on some of the fumbles that weren’t fumbles. I’ve got to take care of the ball.”
The Cardinals (1-6) trailed, 35-3, at halftime. It was their largest defeat at home since a 38-0 loss to Seattle in September of 2003.
“Embarrassed,” tackle D.J. Humphries said. “I think everyone feels the same way I do right now. You’re a grown man. Ain’t nothing more embarrassing than going out in your home stadium and get your ass kicked by 30, or whatever the final score was.”
Because of the early deficit, the Cardinals never did get a chance to see if they could run the ball better against what had been the worst rushing defense in the league. The Cardinals had 69 yards rushing as a team, as David Johnson was held to 39 yards on 14 carries.
The Broncos ran for 131 yards as a team, but it was the turnovers that made the game so lopsided. The Cards had few highlights – cornerback Patrick Peterson made a nice sideline interception, wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald caught his first touchdown pass of the season – but mostly, it was frustration.
The Cardinals still haven’t been able to reach 300 yards of offense in a game, and Johnson – while pleasant – didn’t have any answers about the struggling offense.
“I don’t know what to tell you,” Johnson said.
Wilks too was seeking solutions to offensive problems that have lasted the season.
“Good question,” Wilks said. “And we have to find the answers to it. Whether it’s not getting movement up front, whether it’s not protecting in the pass game, whether it’s not being able to make the proper throws or the proper catches, it’s a lot to go around.”
Wilks, asked about how the season had impacted him, said he wasn’t going to have a “pity party” for himself. Rosen, meanwhile, may only be a rookie, but he was remarkably resilient after the game. He said he thought, even as a rookie, he could lead the Cardinals out of their predicament.
“They drafted me to do it, so I’m going to try,” Rosen said. “I think they’ve got my back and we’ll try to go week-by-week and get one and try to stack them after that. You’d rather do that than give in. That’s not in my blood, it’s not in the blood of any of those guys in the locker room.”
Images from the Week 7 matchup on "Thursday Night Football"