It was the right move, the ball sitting inside the 1-yard line for one final play of the first half, and the Cardinals nursing a three-point lead. The Cards were coming out in the second half getting the ball first. Then, Kenyan Drake was stopped.
(Yes, it's possible he was in, but I never saw a replay showing one way or the other so he was stopped.)
There was the drop by Christian Kirk, the near-rugged TD by KeeSean Johnson, the Drake near-miss. Kyler Murray, who took a looong time before meeting the media after the loss Sunday but who was composed in his session, didn't want to delve too much into the choices because it didn't see the relevance.
"You watched it?" Murray asked one media member. "I didn't see anything wrong with the playcalls. We just didn't execute."
That wasn't everything, of course. The Cardinals had a whole second half to go. They had a chance to take the lead late with a field goal. They had a chance to stop a struggling Cam Newton from creating the Patriots' own field-goal attempt. But they couldn't make those things happen, ultimately, leaving them angry and spouting expletives as they left the Gillette Stadium turf after the game.
The luster of the Hail Murray has faded, although in some ways it feels extra-special – it's the miracle keeping the Cardinals above .500 through 11 games. This team plays every game close, even with whatever issues that might come up, exhilarating when you can win but agony in a loss.
Markus Golden talked about getting back to work tomorrow, and the Cards will, although everything in virtual for at least two days – the realities of COVID shutting down offices across the league. The Rams come to town, a team that beat up the Cardinals badly at State Farm Stadium last year. This is a different team, but opportunities are dwindling in 2020.
-- Murray emphasized his shoulder wasn't a factor. "I wouldn't have played if I couldn't be myself."
-- A couple of weeks ago, Kliff Kingsbury acknowledged there isn't a QB sneak in the playbook for Murray. Understandable, given Murray's stature. He was asked about it again after Sunday's game.
"It's not really our deal right now and that's kind of what it is," Kingsbury said.
-- Kingsbury also said he didn't give much thought to using Murray down there on the goal line Sunday, presumably because of the way the Patriots were guarding against his runs. (Again, I didn't mind the Drake run. I figure you should be able to get six inches.)
-- In normal years, all the captains go out for the coin toss. With COVID, only one captain does it this year, and every game, that had been Larry Fitzgerald. With Fitz sidelined with COVID, it was Patrick Peterson on the coin toss Sunday. He was successful.
-- Good to see Markus Golden with his first career interception, but he gave all credit to Jordan Hicks, who hit Cam Newton as he was throwing. Vance Joseph had a good plan for Newton, who threw for only 84 yards. The Patriots had less than 200 total yards. Really, what should've been a winning effort.
-- Rough day for special teams. Not only did Zane Gonzalez miss the field goal at the end, but a long kickoff return set up the Patriots' first TD and a long punt return set up a field goal (and it should've been a touchdown, but a penalty called it back.)
-- Kingsbury said he wasn't sure what went wrong on the Gonzalez kick, although it would seem there are some things the Cards have to sort out when it comes to the kicker. Does it change the thought process on fourth-and-1, even when a kick gives you a lead? Kingsbury has been faced with similar situations against the Dolphins and Patriots, with the same result.
-- Speaking of the long punt return, there was some confusion on what seemed to be a pretty normal block on Ezekiel Turner that negated the Pats' touchdown. But yes, that's a penalty under the new blindside block rules.
-- Now, the second Isaiah Simmons 15-yard penalty, the one that put the Patriots in field-goal range at the end of the game? That was just a missed call. Cam Newton wasn't out of bounds and Simmons didn't get his head and I don't think he lowered his own head.
-- Still, it shouldn't be lost that that penalty came on third-and-13 in Patriots territory and the Cards let Newton escape for a 14-yard pre-penalty scramble. That was where you have to get off the field.
-- ASU product N'Keal Harry didn't have a catch on three targets.
-- At one point there was offsetting pass interference calls on DeAndre Hopkins and Stephon Gilmore – on each other. I have to say I've never seen that before.
-- Big week ahead. Rams coming to town, COVID issues seemingly lurking everywhere. The Cardinals have to figure some things out before they run out of time, and that time is coming quickly.
Time to fly home.