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'Nowhere Near' 2020, And Lions Aftermath

Kyler Murray wasn't quite as upbeat after this loss, not after the way he reacted to the Rams' loss on Monday night. The quarterback knew the Cardinals had blown an opportunity. He didn't have a lot of answers, other than to acknowledge the Cards weren't ready, didn't have enough "juice" coming out.

But when he was suggested this season could potentially be a repeat of last year's end-season tailspin – when the Cards missed the playoffs at 8-8 after a 6-3 start – Murray didn't hesitate to dismiss such a notion.

"Not at all. Not at all," Murray said. "We're still 10-and-4, still in first place. This is nowhere near where we were last year, and we're not going to allow it to be."

The Cardinals have made it harder on themselves. They play a red-hot Colts team Saturday night, whose best player just happens to do best the one thing the Cards have struggled with all season – even when the wins were weekly. Then comes a trip to Dallas, and the Cowboys now have tied the Cardinals in the standings. The finale is against the Seahawks, and in this rivalry, who knows how that turns out?

What's funny is that, the way the game played out Sunday, I wasn't thinking about last season. I was actually thinking more about 2008 – yes, that season is on my brain, with the season finale of Folktales coincidentally on the subject premiering Wednesday – and how that team struggled on the long road trips. The Cards did get a sack on the first play, but mostly, they looked off from jump, which can be overcome against a team that has packed it in for the season. The Lions are most certainly not that under Dan Campbell.

The fanbase is angry right now. Totally get it. The Cardinals still have a chance to fix things, however. Time is growing short. There is another national TV audience waiting on Christmas – and the Colts played a pretty good NFLN game of their own this past Saturday night.

"We've got to rally," tight end Zach Ertz said. "This isn't time to point fingers. We preach family. When things are going poorly, are we still a family? That's the message."

-- Here is a silver lining moment, courtesy of NFL Research. Since 1970, the team with the best record in the NFL has now played the team with the worst record in the NFL (minimum eight games into the season) three times and lost. The previous two times before Sunday, both "losers" went on to win the Super Bowl: the 1995 Cowboys and the 2004 Patriots.

-- The Cardinals can't really afford an injury on the defensive line, but Jordan Phillips – who had a very interesting day, sacking Goff on the first play of the game, and then getting a pair of 15-yard penalties on the drive right before the end of the first half – left the game with a knee injury. He was declared out when they announced it, and that's not usual. There was no update on Phillips, but it would be a significant loss if he's out with J.J. Watt already sidelined (and the Colts and MVP candidate Jonathan Taylor coming to town.)

-- Wide receiver Rondale Moore also left the game with an ankle injury. That's something to watch too, although they do have similar type players (like Greg Dortch) on the practice squad.

-- It was a weird game. Because of their last couple of drives, the Cardinals got a bunch of ultimately meaningless yards and still almost reached 400. But as they got into scoring position most times, it never looked clean.

-- With the score 10-0, I get Kingsbury going for it on fourth-and-goal at the Lions 3. The timing didn't look right on the slant to Antoine Wesley – I'm not sure he's able to get in the end zone even if he makes the catch – and it just was a symbol of the way the game went.

-- Another time the Cardinals kicked a field goal, the drive was waylaid on second-and-goal when Max Garcia snapped the ball before Kyler (and it looked like the rest of the offense) was ready, and the ball hit Murray in the chest, forcing him to just cover it.

-- Murray's 56 percent completion rate was a season-low.

-- Christian Kirk did have a drop that was unexpected, but he had nine catches for 94 yards and a late TD and I expect him to be the guy now with Hopkins down, with A.J. Green and Ertz as the main supporting cast.

-- It's going to be a very interesting end-of-the-season run here. The pressure is building. No way to get around that at this point.

That's all for tonight. Time to fly home.

QB Kyler Murray heaves a pass downfield during a loss in Detroit in 2021