Big Red Recap: Red zone drought continues as Cardinals fall to Redskins
Dec 17, 2017, 2:41 PM | Updated: 4:45 pm
(AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
It’s hard to win ballgames when your opponent scores touchdowns and you don’t.
For the second straight week, the Arizona Cardinals went an entire game without finding their way across the goal line and into the end zone.
The drought stretches all the way back to Dec. 3 against Los Angeles, a span of 10 consecutive quarters.
What points the Cardinals did score Sunday belonged to Phil Dawson. He kicked five field goals in the 20-15 defeat to the Washington Redskins at FedEx Field.
The loss officially eliminated the Cardinals (6-8) from playoff contention.
Chances? The Cardinals had plenty. Six times they entered the red zone and six times they came up empty, failing to score a touchdown.
Blaine Gabbert was intercepted once, and Dawson scored five field goals on the remaining trips deep into Washington territory.
Gabbert, making his fifth straight start, committed two turnovers. He fumbled on the game’s first possession and was sacked five times working behind an offensive line that welcomed two new starters.
The quarterback went 16-of-41 for 189 yards.
Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins, meanwhile, wasn’t much better. He passed for 196 yards, completing 18-of-26 attempts, and two touchdowns to help Washington (6-8) snap a two-game losing streak.
The Cardinals have lost their last eight visits to the nation’s capital.
Four times Larry Fitzgerald was targeted on the Cardinals’ first scoring drive. He caught three of them. The third, a 14-yard gain, was his 90th reception of the season. Fitzgerald has now caught at least 90 balls in a season eight times in his career, extending his own NFL record. No other player in NFL history has more than six seasons with 90 or more receptions.
Add one more to Chandler Jones’ sack total. He’s got 15 when he dropped Cousins on a 3rd-and-6 play in the second quarter. Jones is the first Cardinals player with 15.0+ sacks in a season since Simeon Rice established the franchise single-season record with 16.5 in 1999. Jones now has at least one sack in 12 of 14 games this season.
Against the league’s seventh-worst rush defense, the Cardinals topped the century mark for the fourth straight game, their best stretch of the season. They finished with 141 yards. Kerwynn Williams had 61 yards on 17 carries, while Elijhaa Penny went for 45 yards on 10 carries. The Redskins entered the game allowing 122.0 rushing yards per game.
Ninety seconds. The Cardinals trailed early after Cousins threw a 5-yard touchdown pass to Jamison Crowder for a 7-0 lead at the 13:30 mark of the first quarter. It was his NFL-leading fifth touchdown toss on the team’s opening possession, and it was all set up by Anthony Lanier’s strip-sack of Gabbert. The fumble was recovered by Preston Smith, who returned it to the Cardinals 6-yard line.
Red-zone execution. Four times in the first half the Cardinals traveled inside the 20-yard line and four times they were held without a touchdown. They instead settled for three field goals — 40, 35 and 19 yards, the latter as the half ended — and also turned the football over when Gabbert was picked off by Smith on what was 1st-and-goal at the Redskins’ 9-yard line.
Over the past three games, Gabbert has been sacked 19 times, including eight last week. The Redskins dropped him three times in the first quarter alone with Lanier getting him twice and Junior Galette once. Those two combined for back-to-back sacks on the Cardinals’ second offensive possession of the game, a drive that, because of the sacks, stalled inside the red zone.
STAT OF THE GAME
4-of-19: The Cardinals converted just four of their third-down opportunities, and none in the second half when they went 0-of-8.
HE SAID IT
“You got to make plays to win games and kicking field goals is not going to get it done,” head coach Bruce Arians said.
– Fitzgerald extended the third-longest streak in NFL history with one catch to 209 consecutive games.
– Antoine Bethea exited the game with a knee injury in the second quarter but returned later in the half.
– Karlos Dansby exited the game with a calf injury in the third quarter; his return was listed questionable.
– Robert Nkemdiche exited the game with a wrist injury in the fourth quarter. He did not return and was ruled out.
– Josh Bynes exited the game with an ankle injury in the fourth quarter. He also did not return.
– Khalif Barnes, signed off the street this week, played a handful of snaps as an extra offensive lineman.
– Twice the Cardinals converted on 4th down, and twice they had Gabbert quarterback sneak the ball.
– Among the Cardinals’ listed inactives were players John Brown, Jermaine Gresham and Earl Watford.
It’s the final home game of the season.
The Cardinals host the New York Giants on Christmas Eve, Saturday, Dec. 24. Kickoff is scheduled for 2:25 p.m. with pregame coverage beginning four hours earlier on 98.7 FM Arizona’s Sports Station.
The Giants are 3-0 all-time at University of Phoenix Stadium, including winning Super Bowl XLII in 2008.
The Cardinals have won two of the last three meetings. Most recently, they beat the Giants in New York, 25-14, in 2014.
The former NFC East rivals played twice a year until 2002.
Overall, the Cardinals trail 43-81-2 all-time in the series, which dates back to 1926.