The Arizona Cardinals are 9-3 and thanks to tiebreakers, are still the top seed in the NFC playoff picture.
So why does it feel like the sky is falling?
Arizona’s listless performance in a 29-18 loss to the Atlanta Falcons didn’t help matters. The Cardinals struggled in all phases of the game and have now lost back-to-back contests for only the second time under head coach Bruce Arians.
Things got off to a bad start for the Cardinals Sunday, when Steven Jackson set up the Falcons’ first touchdown of the day with a long run on the fourth play of the game. It was a sign of things to come, according to general manager Steve Keim.
“When you look at this past weekend’s game, the first series to me, the Steven Jackson 55-yard run says it all,” Keim told Doug and Wolf Monday on Arizona Sports 98.7 FM. “A combination of poor fundamentals and bottom line ‘want to.’ We had some guys come up to make the tackle — it should have been a 6-yard run — and you had a couple guys come up, bounce off him, not wrap up and use proper fundamentals. You had a couple guys that didn’t look like they wanted any part of it, which is disappointing.”
Jackson’s run set up a touchdown pass from Matt Ryan to Levine Toilolo which got the ball rolling on a 17-0 first quarter for the Falcons.
The loss shrinks the Cardinals’ NFC West lead to just one game over the hard-charging Seattle Seahawks with four games left to play. Despite the disappointing loss in Atlanta, Keim knows what tact the team needs to take moving forward.
“The bottom line is we have two options. We can feel sorry for ourselves and make excuses about being decimated with injuries or we can come out swinging and answer the bell and face the challenges ahead,” he said. “It’s going to check a lot of these guys’ character. It’s going to check off the boxes when it comes to adversity, which we talk about a lot. We’ll find out a lot about what these guys are made of the next couple of weeks.”
The Cardinals return home to face the Kansas City Chiefs (7-5) Sunday at University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale.
“We’ve got to come out and play better, it’s no secret,” Keim said. “And it starts next week against Kansas City.”