Any time a team gets 300 yards passing and three touchdowns from its quarterback and holds an opposing team — one with a top-ranked offense — to around 100 less yards than they normally average, it should have a decent chance to win the game.
Because of those circumstances, the Arizona Cardinals certainly had their chances to win Sunday’s NFC showdown in Philadelphia. However, a turnover-happy first quarter and a sluggish start to the third quarter plagued Bruce Arians’ squad, as it dropped its first game in five weeks by a final of 24-21.
While the margin of defeat was slim and the chances to pull even were plenty, Arizona never seemed to completely have a handle on the flow of the game.
It was a disjointed effort to say the least.
“I feel like we had opportunities right until the end of the game. We just didn’t make enough plays,” Johnson said. “I felt like offensively when we got going, the defensive fell back. When the defense forced three straight three-and-outs, the offense fell back.
“We were never on the same page together as two units to do what we needed to do win this game. We just didn’t make enough plays.”
Although Todd Bowles’ unit only held Chip Kelly’s up-tempo offense to 24 points at home, two defensive lapses turned a tight contest into a come-from-behind affair.
After Dave Zastudil knocked a punt inside the Eagles’ 19-yard line with just under 2:30 to play in the first half, Arizona had an opportunity to hold its ground in order to keep its deficit at 10-7 going into the half.
Instead, Nick Foles directed a nine-play, 78-yard drive that resulted in a one-yard touchdown grab by tight end Brent Celek with 15 seconds left to play in the second quarter.
Philadelphia marched into the locker room with a 10-point lead and subsequently had all the momentum.
Following the halftime break, the Eagles went on another soul-crushing drive, spanning 82 yards in 13 plays. The result was another touchdown reception by a tight end, Zach Ertz, this time from 24 yards out.
“It was fast. That’s the best way to put it. They come out and do a lot things that are different from a normal offense,” said Johnson of the Eagles’ offense. “If you’re not disciplined and you’re not set in what you’re doing, they can gash you and get big plays against you. I think they were able to do that, especially going into that third quarter.
“That opening drive was a statement drive. As a defense, we didn’t do what we needed to coming out with it on our shoulders to get the offense the ball back. They drove down, and we gave up a touchdown. That’s something we can’t do as a defense.”
The Cardinals hadn’t allowed points on the final possession of the first half and the first possession of second half since Week 7 against Seattle — the last time they lost a game.
According to Johnson, those back-to-back possessions will force the defense to do some collective soul searching ahead of next Sunday’s divisional matchup with the St. Louis Rams.
“We always preach going into a half that we stop them and we get points as an offense,” said Johnson. “We didn’t do that. Coming out in the third quarter, we are on defense and its our opportunity to go out and make a statement and get our offense the ball back. And we didn’t do that, either. As a whole on defense we are not pleased with the way that we played.
“Coming into the game we were well-prepared, and they didn’t do anything that we didn’t expect. We didn’t make the plays that needed to be made, and that’s something we need to look in the mirror about, watch the film and be tough on each other.”