The Arizona Cardinals were up 24-13 on the St. Louis Rams after three quarters Sunday, but lost by three points after giving up two field goals and a touchdown and two-point conversion in the final period.
Cardinals head coach Bruce Arians said he was not pleased with the loss, but he saw many positives about his team’s performance.
“Disappointed? Yes. Discouraged? Not at all,” he said. “You never accept losing, but there are some very, very good things, and some very correctable things.
“Would have been different if we couldn’t get ourselves in that position (to win). But we had ourselves in that position, so that is a very encouraging point.”
As for the positives, Arians said the Cardinals defense created two critical turnovers. Safety Tyrann Mathieu forced a fumble in the first quarter that likely prevented a St. Louis touchdown, and defensive tackle Dan Williams returned a tipped pass for a touchdown in the third period.
“Anytime you do that defensively, seldom do you lose,” Arians said.
The first-year head coach said he was encouraged by the all the yardage put up on offense as well as long scoring drives and third-down efficiency (7-for-14 in third-down conversions).
Arians also said punter Dave Zastudil was “outstanding.”
In contrast, the coach called out kicker Jay Feeley’s “poor” kickoffs and missed field goal (50 yards) at the end of the first half.
He said the kick returners made same poor decisions coming out of the end zone on kickoffs.
“We don’t need to be starting behind the 20 (yard line),” he said.
He also pointed out poor tackling on defense and a lack of pass rush.
“I thought Calais (Campbell) and Dan got good push in the middle, but we didn’t do anything off the edges,” he said. “Most of it was technique, never effort. So I think that that’s something we can get better at.”
Arians also called out the team’s offensive line struggles. Although he said tackle Levi Brown showed “poor technique,” he seemed to stand up for the Cardinals former first-round pick.
Arians questioned the holding penalty on Brown in the third quarter and said the running backs were supposed to help him out more with Rams defensive end Robert Quinn. The coach also said Brown did well blocking during runs.
However, he said Brown doesn’t have a lot of leeway even though he hasn’t played a regular season game the 2011 campaign.
“You do poorly on four plays (three sacks and one holding penalty), they’re really going to stand out at left tackle,” Arians said. “When you give up the big ones and there are sack-fumbles, there is concern. But I think they are correctable.”