TEMPE, Ariz. — As the injuries continued to mount at a rather ludicrous speed, the members of the Arizona Cardinals wore brave faces and said all the right things.
“Next man up,” was repeated over and over again, to the point where you could almost predict when you’d hear it.
But at some point, the concern — outside of the locker room, anyway — was that the games lost to injury, a collective 109 by the end of the regular season, would eventually be too much for the Cardinals to overcome. The fear was having to go on without their top two quarterbacks and being forced to choose between a rookie fourth-round pick and a player the team released at the end of training camp would ultimately be the team’s undoing.
After the Cardinals lost to the Carolina Panthers 27-16 Saturday in the Wild Card Round of the NFC playoffs in a game in which Arizona set a new postseason record for fewest yards gained (78), you couldn’t help but wonder what would have become of this team had it not been besieged by injuries.
What if _____?
“Yeah, I mean that’s the easy thing to say right now, is the ‘what-ifs,'” (injured) quarterback Carson Palmer said. “But everybody’s saying, other than the guys that are still playing, everybody is saying ‘what if this happened, what if that happened.'”