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Cardinals show their margin for error is zero in loss to Seattle

Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray (1) eludes the reach of Seattle Seahawks defensive end Ezekiel Ansah (94) during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Sept. 29, 2019, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)

GLENDALE, Ariz. — If you peruse the final stat sheet from Sunday’s game between the Arizona Cardinals and Seattle Seahawks, you’ll notice that a lot of the final team stats are eerily similar.

Seattle had 21 first downs — one more than the Cardinals — and only 19 more total yards. Both quarterbacks, Russell Wilson and Kyler Murray, were sacked four times. Seattle converted four out of 10 third-down opportunities while Arizona cashed in on three of nine. Each team was penalized seven times.

So how did the most important number — a 27-10 Seattle victory — get so lopsided?

Mistakes.

The Cardinals made plenty, while the Seahawks limited theirs.

Arizona’s first mistake happened on its first drive. For the second straight week, Kliff Kingsbury’s offense was humming early. Murray guided them on an 11-play journey that stalled in the Seattle red zone (sound familiar?) and ended in a 43-yard field goal attempt from Zane Gonzalez. For the first time all year, he missed.

Yes, he was acclimating to new holder Ryan Winslow, who was filling in for the injured Andy Lee, but the missed opportunity to strike first set the tone for the game.

The other big mistake came on Arizona’s second possession. After Seattle scored on a 33-yard field goal from Jason Myers, the Cardinals faced a 2nd-and-5 at their own 30, Murray tried to throw a screen pass to the right to running back David Johnson. Seattle defensive end Jadeveon Clowney, who was being blocked by Cardinals guard J.R. Sweezy, stuck his left hand up and made a brilliant interception before outrunning Sweezy for a 27-yard touchdown.

It was the only turnover of the game and Seattle’s lead was only 10 points, but it felt like 100.

Fast forward to the second quarter. Seattle led 17-3 and once again the Cardinals showed some life offensively, driving from their 25 to the Seahawks’ 30. Once again Gonzalez missed a field goal, wide right, and instead of potentially going into the locker room down eight, they went in trailing 20-3.

A fourth quarter touchdown run by Murray cut the Seattle lead to 10 and made things mildly interesting for a few minutes, but none of the 60,500 in attendance could really feel like a comeback was in the making.

For the second straight year, the Cardinals are winless at the season’s quarter poll. Yes, 2019’s first four games have been more entertaining (the bar was on the floor) and there have been more frequent highlights, but the issues remain.

“I didn’t anticipate being where we are now,” wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald said following the game during which he overtook Tony Gonzalez on the NFL’s all-time receptions list.

“We’re just not good enough to make the mistakes we’re making now and often times it’s a little bit too late when we finally get going,” he continued.

“You can’t spot good teams anything. You have to play well in all three phases consistently for 60 minutes to win in this league.”

Nothing we’ve seen from the Cardinals indicates that’s possible. From poor red-zone execution, at-times curious play calling and costly sacks on offense to coverage mixups and poor tackling on defense to penalties and missed field goals in special teams, Arizona has presented a smorgasbord of issues to overcome on a weekly basis.

Extra Points

• Chandler Jones’ streak of having at least one sack in every game he’s played against Russell Wilson ended Sunday at seven in a row. Not only did Jones not have a sack, he didn’t show up on the defensive stat sheet at all. He was flagged for a roughing the passer call against Wilson on Seattle’s last scoring drive that gave them a first down at the Cardinals’ 6-yard line.

• Defending tight ends continues to be an issue for the Cardinals. Will Dissly of Seattle caught seven passes for 57 yards and a touchdown that extended his team’s lead to 17-3 in the second quarter. Arizona has now given up at least one touchdown to a tight end in every game this season and a total of six.

• The Cardinals didn’t intercept Wilson Sunday and still haven’t come up with a pick in 2019. In fact, dating back to last season, the Cardinals have one interception in their last 13 games. That takeaway came last year in the first quarter of a Week 17 loss in Seattle when David Amerson picked off Wilson.

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