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Needing To Bounce Back After National TV (Again), And Rams Aftermath

The Cardinals have two home games left in the regular season – one against a tough Colts team and another against the division rival Seahawks, who are going to have an in-sync Russell Wilson by then – and we'll have to see what they can do in front of the home crowd.

It's weird, how the Cards have played at home. Save for the Panthers game, they have not played poorly. But they certainly haven't played as well as they have played on the road. Certainly not as careful. That bit them again Monday against the Rams.

Look, the Cardinals are good. They are 10-3, and that isn't a fluke. They didn't get blown out (and it would've been something had Kyler had a chance to throw another Hail Murray to the same end zone at the end there, although DeAndre Hopkins wasn't playing and if he hurt his hamstring again, that'd be a major yikes.)

"It's all in front of us," Kyler Murray said, and A.J. Green made the point the Buccaneers won the whole thing last year with all road playoff games. It can happen. Is that the path the Cardinals want? No, probably not. But can they do it, especially with the way they have played on the road? Sure. Four games left. A lot can still happen.

The Cardinals have been through this before. Their other national TV game ended in a close loss, when the Packers came to town on a Thursday night -- a loss that is stinging now in the tiebreaking procedures.

Against the Rams, there were just too many mistakes. Fourth downs the Cardinals normally convert. Ill-time penalties (from a crew that likes to throw flags, so it should've been expected.) Bad interceptions. Missed chances, like the bomb down the sideline to Rondale Moore – except Moore lost track of where he was on the edge and never really came close to being inbounds even though he was wide open.

Disappointing to lose, but this team has shown the ability to bounce back.

-- Von Miller still doesn't have a sack with the Rams, but holy crap was that Aaron Donald at his finest. He wasn't a big factor the first time they played. Maybe he knew with Jalen Ramsey out that the pass rush would be that much more important, but he wrecked the Cardinals early and often.

-- I agreed with the calls to go for it on fourth down. Yes, they came back to hurt, but that's this team and this coach and there is good reason to go.

-- Cornerback Marco Wilson is a rookie, and the Rams made sure to go after him. The way Matthew Stafford was throwing, he wasn't the only one to get targeted, but it was enough. Wilson was so frustrated after the Cooper Kupp TD catch – which Wilson nearly knocked away in a perfect low pass – that cameras captured him punching the ground on the sideline in anger afterward, until safety Jalen Thompson and defensive coordinator Vance Joseph tried to settle him down.

-- Speaking of heated, safety Budda Baker was clearly angry and letting defensive lineman Jordan Phillips know it after Stafford fumbled the ball a couple plays before the Rams' last touchdown and was able to track the ball down himself. Phillips thought it was an incomplete pass, but it was ruled a fumble. No Cardinals chased the ball.

"I thought it was an incomplete pass," coach Kliff Kingsbury said. "I'm not sure if they reviewed it, it wouldn't have been. It looked like his hand was coming forward. But yeah, we've got to have some awareness in that situation. Just get on the football. Don't leave it to chance, for sure."

-- Don't want to say it was all about the return of long snapper Aaron Brewer, but kicker Matt Prater had no problems drilling two 53-yard field goals. Prater now has 65 field goals in his career of at least 50 yards, extending his own NFL record.

-- Both Prater and Hopkins wore an "88" sticker on their helmets in honor of their former teammate, Demaryius Thomas, who passed away at age 33 last week.

-- Justin Pugh was active, but didn't play. Kingsbury said he wasn't quite ready, so Sean Harlow started. Although the Cardinals made Pugh active and inactivated offensive lineman Joshua Miles, so I am guessing Pugh was good enough to play in a backup role.

-- James Conner, making all these one-handed catches, and it's hard to believe anyone ever wondered if he could be a main pass-catching back.

-- Props to Green, who surpassed 10,000 career receiving yards in a 100-yard game (7-102). He's still a valuable weapon. The Cardinals threw the ball a lot for a lot of yards. The picks just changed the game. (It was good to see Christian Kirk on a couple of deep throws too.)

That's it for tonight, on a short week before a long trip to Detroit. Won't be a lot of time to think about this one. That's probably OK.

WR A.J. Green makes a catch against the Rams in a 2021 home game

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