Six penalties for 55 yards.
By itself, it doesn’t look like enough to put an end to the Arizona Cardinals’ four-game win streak, but how and when the final three infractions occurred certainly had an effect on the outcome of Sunday’s 24-21 loss at Philadelphia.
The first one took place on a second and seven from the Eagles’ 34-yard-line with under five minutes to play. Nick Foles under threw DeSean Jackson over the middle, and Arizona cornerback Patrick Peterson snagged the pass for his fourth interception of the season.
Down three, the Cardinals were poised to get in field goal range with the ball just outside the 43-yard line.
Except they weren’t. The interception was negated after rookie Tyrann Mathieu was flagged for defensive holding on Philadelphia wide receiver Jason Avant. The Eagles eventually were forced to punt but ran four more plays to take time off the clock, and Arizona never sniffed field goal range the rest of the afternoon.
“We ended up making a great play, got pressure on the quarterback,” said safety Rashad Johnson, who was on the sideline for the play. “It’s just unfortunate that a flag came in there. I didn’t see the whole play or what exactly happened.
“That’s something we don’t want to have happen at that point and time of the game. I can’t really say if it was a good call or a bad call, because I couldn’t really tell the whole thing. It was a definitely a big play in the game and a big momentum shift, because we would have at least been in field goal range to tie the game up and put it in overtime.”
After the Cardinals turned the ball over on downs on their ensuing possession, the Eagles found themselves staring at a third down and four at the Arizona nine-yard line with under two minutes to play. Chip Kelly elected to have Foles run out of the read option, and he was taken down after a two-yard gain by Matt Shaughnessy.
But instead of a defensive stop — which would have brought on Alex Henery for a field goal try — Shaughnessy was whistled for defensive holding on Zach Ertz and Daryl Washington was issued an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty for arguing the play.
First down Philadelphia. Game over.
Although those two instances stood out in the final few minutes of the three-point loss, Cardinals head coach Bruce Arians refused to blame the officials for his team’s shortcomings.
“I’ve got to go watch the film,” Arians said. “I’m not going to go get fined for criticizing officials. Officials didn’t lose the game. They try to do their best.
“[It’s tough to lose on the road], especially when you make a play to win the game. We’ve been able to do that in the fourth quarter a number of times. This one we got back to a nice, close ballgame. The defense made a play [on the Peterson interception], but it didn’t stand up.”