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Cardinals’ Kliff Kingsbury stands by failed 4th-and-1 attempt

Head coach Kliff Kingsbury of the Arizona Cardinals reacts during the second half of a game against the New Orleans Saints at the Mercedes Benz Superdome on October 27, 2019 in New Orleans, Louisiana. (Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images)

The decision by Arizona Cardinals head coach Kliff Kingsbury to go for it on 4th-and-1 in a loss to the Saints on Sunday drew criticism and sparked debate.

The Cardinals, trailing just 10-6 to a one-loss New Orleans team, had the ball in the third quarter on their own 30-yard-line. Arizona went for it, electing not to punt and instead hand off to running back Chase Edmonds, who was stuffed and didn’t get the first down.

The Saints got the ball back in Arizona territory and took it the other way on five plays for a touchdown drive, making it 17-6.

“Would I take it back? No, I would’ve called a play that worked,” Kingsbury said in his press conference on Monday.

If Kingsbury didn’t show regret, neither did quarterback Kyler Murray.

“We just didn’t execute,” Murray said. “We had to get a yard, and we didn’t.”

Kingsbury, while joining Bickley & Marotta on 98.7 FM Arizona’s Sports Station, said, “That was the call and it didn’t work out.”

Arizona also couldn’t convert on the previous play on 3rd-and-1.

“I thought we had a good chance to get it, basically,” Kingsbury initially said after the game. “That is a very good offense and they were moving the ball well and felt at that point after getting the turnover, we had to make something happen. Unfortunately, it did not work out.

“The analytics plus myself, I was all for that. We had two shots to get half a yard and we didn’t get enough.”

The case for Kingsbury’s decision was that the Cardinals were underdogs against the Saints and could’ve kept the drive alive at a time when they were down by less than a touchdown. Aggressive play-calling and high-risk, high-reward decisions might’ve been the difference had Arizona been able to generate offense.

Instead, the failed 4th-and-1 call and zero touchdowns on the day were part of what ended the Cardinals’ three-game win streak against New Orleans, which is now 7-1.



NFL Network analyst Steve Wyche was critical of the call when he joined Bickley & Marotta.

“In real time, it was like, ‘Now’s not the time, it’s a close game, your defense is keeping them out of the end zone. Don’t give them a shot for Drew Brees to get rolling,'” Wyche said. “The Saints offense was working, they just weren’t scoring. So the red zone defense the Cards were playing the first half was excellent, especially for as much as the Saints had the ball. And when they got stuffed, I was like, ‘It’s over. It’s over.’

“Arizona was not doing anything against that defense. And you just gifted Drew Brees — you just kind of broke the dam for him right there by making that play.”

Bickley & Marotta

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