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Tough penalty hampers any chance of Cardinals comeback

GLENDALE, Ariz. — The Cardinals were trailing 41-34 with around five minutes remaining, and things were looking bleak as the Saints had the ball facing a 3rd and 8 at the Arizona 27.

Drew Brees dropped back to pass, but was quickly swallowed up by Kevin Minter and a handful of other Cardinals, including fellow linebacker Sio Moore.

It was a huge play, with the 11-yard loss conceivably taking the Saints out of field goal range and ensuring the Cardinals stayed within one score, but then the penalty flag came for the Cardinals roughing the passer.

Four plays later, the Saints scored another touchdown, increasing their lead to 48-34. The Cardinals added one more touchdown of their own but would get no closer.

“Very tough,” Cardinals coach Bruce Arians said of the call. “Game-changing.”

Replays of the sack show that the Cardinals may have gotten a raw deal, because while Brees was taken down, it did not appear as though Moore or any other Arizona player did anything illegal. Rules analyst Mike Pereira and in-game analyst Ronde Barber both believed the call was a poor one.

Bad calls happen, and no doubt the Cardinals have benefited from some. But in this game, at that moment? Very tough, indeed.

Arians said the explanation he got from the officials was that somebody hit Brees in the head, though it appeared on replay that the offending blow many not have actually been delivered by a Cardinal.

Regardless, the flag was thrown, the touchdown was scored and the Cardinals lost.

“Man, all you can do in that situation is line up and play again,” Minter said. “It sucks, but the call is the call. I ain’t going to bash them for it; they saw what they saw so it is what it is.”

However, Minter would not say what he thought of the call when he watched the replay because “it involves a lot of cuss words,” so you can probably infer how he felt.

The penalty, legitimate or not, did not cost the Cardinals the game. Yet, there is no doubt it had an impact.

“That’s just kind of the way the season’s been going there, too,” Campbell said. “Make a big play and it just gets negated from a penalty or somebody making one mistake.

“I know you’re not supposed to talk about penalties and all that good stuff, so you have to play hard and you hope the calls go your way and the ball falls your way, and leave it all on the football field. Today, we didn’t get enough plays.”

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