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Searching For The Winning Formula, And Ravens Aftermath

The Cardinals were heavy underdogs going into Sunday’s game against the Ravens, and there is no question Baltimore is a good team. But there is also no question the Cards felt like they let one get away in a 23-17 loss.

The good news is that, while there are still hiccups, the offense can move the ball. Against the Ravens, that even meant despite being one-dimensional, with only 20 yards rushing total. But those missed chances deep in Baltimore territory …

It was suggested to many players that perhaps the Cards should run more that close. Most deferred to Kliff Kingsbury, who said of the offense that all parts of it had to be looked at, from play design to execution and beyond.

“I want to win games,” guard Justin Pugh said. “I don’t care how we do it.”

-- Kyler Murray was pretty good again. I was at the Cam Newton 422-yard debut as a rookie in 2011, since it was at State Farm Stadium, and Newton followed with 400-plus yards in Week 2 as teams scrambled to learn their defenses after the truncated 2011 lockout-ravaged offseason. Murray is facing defenses that had more time to prepare, but he’s thrown for more than 300 yards each game, joining Newton as the only one to do that in his first two NFL games. He missed a couple of throws, but he made some nice throws, he got others off despite getting drilled by a defender and how are you not optimistic?

-- The snap clap returned on a bunch of plays. It hasn’t gone away, although it’s clear it won’t be an every-down or every-game thing.

-- The Cardinals were reportedly the first team since the NFL moved the goalposts in 1974 to try three field goals inside the opponent’s 5-yard line while trailing.

-- The Cardinals had an interesting way to start the game, essentially using two defensive linemen (Corey Peters and Rodney Gunter) with four linebackers (Haason Reddick was back in full) and five defensive backs. Rookie Deionte Thompson got a chance – although Lamar Jackson was pretty good on the opening drive.

-- Jackson, by the way, could end up being the best QB of the 2018 draft. Long way to go from all those first-round picks, but Jackson has made huge strides for the Ravens in less than a full season of starts.

-- Murray, meanwhile had only three rushes for four yards. I don’t think the Cards want to run him a ton, not at his size, but that part of his game has been quiet through two weeks.

-- Larry Fitzgerald is going to have a huge year. He had another five catches for 104 yards, he had a 54-yard catch – after two 40-plus yarders last week after not having one that long since 2015 – and has had 100-yard games each of the first two weeks. Fitz hadn’t had back-to-back 100-yard games since Week 2 (at Chicago) and Week 3 (home against San Francisco) in 2015. He’s really timeless.

-- Cassius Marsh had his first sack, but he had a tough block-in-the-back on a punt return and then a bad horsecollar of Jackson. Speaking of special teams, they were great Week 1, they took a step back Sunday. Among the miscues, Marsh’s penalty, Clinton McDonald had a penalty hitting the long snapper, Damiere Byrd had a kickoff return that he decided to catch too close to the sideline and then he stepped out at his own 6. That unit is better than that, and it’ll bounce back. But a bad day.

-- The defense did better in the second half, and for a second straight week, kept the Cards in it. The Ravens had 11 plays of at least 10 yards in the first half. In the second half, they only managed two field goals.

-- We saw the first challenge of a non-pass interference call in a Cardinals game, although it was thrown by Ravens coach John Harbaugh. He tried to get a flag thrown after the fact on rookie cornerback Byron Murphy. The Ravens lost the challenge and punted to give the Cards a final chance to drive for a win. The Cards, pinned at their own 9, couldn’t move the ball. 

-- Terrell Suggs sat by himself at the far end of the bench late in Sunday's game, away from the chaos at the other end of the field as the Cards tried desperately to generate a game-winning drive that never materialized. He kept looking at the video board on his end of the field, hoping to see a big play and perhaps a storybook finish for his return.

It didn't happen. "It was a weird game," Suggs said, and for him, most of that was coming back as visitor to a place that had been home. But it was also weird how it played out.

Time to go home.

WR Larry Fitzgerald runs after the catch in Batimore in 2019

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