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Rapid Reactions: Mistakes doom Cardinals against Buccaneers

Tampa Bay Buccaneers tight end O.J. Howard (80) beats Arizona Cardinals outside linebacker Haason Reddick (43) on a 10-yard touchdown reception during the first half of an NFL football game Sunday, Nov. 10, 2019, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Jason Behnken)

The Arizona Cardinals squandered several chances to get a win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, instead falling 30-27 to the Bucs and former Cardinals coach Bruce Arians.

With a 27-23 lead in the fourth quarter, the Cardinals could not take advantage of a Buccaneers fumble. Quarterback Kyler Murray threw an interception, ending the record he set in the game for most pass attempts without an interception for a rookie, and Tampa Bay took the lead on the ensuing possession.

The Cardinals failed to move the ball downfield on their final drive and lost.

Here are the rapid reactions from 98.7 FM Arizona’s Sports Station’s hosts, reporters and editors:

Vince Marotta, co-host of Bickley & Marotta

There’s a lot to unpack from the Cardinals’ 30-27 loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers Sunday, but the thesis statement is: You can’t continue to make bonehead mistakes and expect to beat anybody in this league.

The Cardinals had four of them.

Trailing 17-13 early in the third quarter, Arizona took the ball right down the field but faced a 4th-and-1 at the Bucs’ 23-yard line. Kliff Kingsbury dialed up a beautiful play call that had Maxx Williams all alone down the right sideline. He would have walked into the end zone, but he dropped the ball.

Late in the third quarter with the game tied at 20-20, the Cardinals drove deep into Tampa Bay territory with a chance to take the lead. David Johnson caught a pass from Kyler Murray and had the ball stripped out of his hands by Lavonte David, killing another Cardinals’ drive.

On the ensuing drive, Tampa Bay’s Matt Gay missed a 46-yard field goal wide left, but Patrick Peterson lined up offsides and Gay connected on the do-over from 41 yards.

And of course, late in the fourth quarter with a 27-23 lead, the Cardinals were driving with the opportunity to go up 11 points. On 2nd-and-10 from the Bucs’ 15-yard line, Kyler Murray targeted Trent Sherfield, who got tripped up on the play, and Bucs’ rookie Jamel Dean picked it off — Murray’s first interception in more than a month.

The Buccaneers took the lead on the next drive, aided by a booth-initiated review that led to a pass interference call on Jalen Thompson in coverage on Mike Evans.

The Cardinals still had a chance, getting the ball back with 1:43 left and a timeout. Before a fourth-down play, Arizona inexplicably let 36 seconds run off the clock. They converted the play, thanks to a pass interference call on Vernon Hargreaves. Even so, the Cardinals were reduced to attempt a couple of Hail Mary passes — the second fell incomplete and replays showed clear defensive contact well before the ball arrived to intended receiver Pharoh Cooper. Whaddya know? No booth-initiated review this time around.

It’s a bad loss. There’s no other way to describe it. The Cardinals faced a bad Tampa Bay team that in its own right tried to give the way a few different times.

But issues that were present early for the Cardinals are still lingering after 10 games. Their third-down defense is atrocious. Tampa Bay converted 7-of-15 (Cardinals were 1-of-10, by the way) opportunities, including three of eight or more yards. Arizona couldn’t run the ball (and didn’t exactly commit to trying) and the red-zone offensive struggles are far past concerning at this point.

John Gambadoro, co-host of Burns & Gambo

The frustration level with this game – through the roof. Wouldn’t matter how many times I walk around the block, would come back with the same feeling. Watching this game was like punching yourself in the face over and over and over again. I mean, how did they lose this game?

They had the ball deep in Tampa territory up four with under 4 minutes to go. You have to win that game. No you really have to win that game. A touchdown puts it away. A field goal basically guarantees nothing less than overtime. But an interception by Murray — granted, a non-call on Sherfield — contributed to it.

But then you let Tampa drive 92 yards on six plays in 1:57 to take the lead. I don’t just dislike this defense I hate it. I hate watching it. I have no trust in it. Some players yes, but the overall defense nope.

Did anyone, and I mean anyone, not know that Tampa was driving the ball down the field for the go-ahead TD after the INT? Of course you knew. We all did. A 49-yard pass play and two pass interference penalties on the final drive. That’s our defense! Go Cards! And how about that defense at the end of the first half! Arizona gets the TD to Kirk with 1:03 left to go up  13-10 and what does this sad, pathetic defense do? Allows the Bucs to go 75 yards in the final minute and score a TD to take the lead at the half. Are you kidding me! Who does that? Make a damn play.

The sad part is that Kingsbury coached a hell of a game. Three TD passes to Christian Kirk, the fake punt on fourth-and-10 that went for 26 yards to Cooper, Kingsbury was money. I don’t blame him. But I blame David Johnson for giving the Cardinals nothing and coughing the ball up at the Bucs 11-yard line, which led to a Tampa Bay field goal. When he takes a handoff he looks like he is running in quicksand. Not sure what you can do with him, but it’s becoming harder and harder to believe in him. How about Pat Pete offsides on a missed field goal. UGH.

The offense was good. Murray was really good, Isabella made plays, Kirk was at his best, Fitz outstanding.

But this defense is awful. I need to put out my trash cans tonight and I may just put a wrap with the words Cardinals Defense on it just to give the garbage man a good laugh tomorrow.

Dave Burns, co-host of Burns & Gambo:

When you have a first year head coach and a first year quarterback, you go into the season knowing success might be hard to come by. Knowing that wins and losses might not be the standard by which the team is judged. Instead you’re looking for growth. Improvement. Evolution. We all knew that, right?

Yet for me, a game like today is judged by a different standard. You have to win that game. And what ever gains were made by individual players are forgotten about with such a winnable game over such a beatable opponent.

Through mistakes of their own the Bucs left the door wide open for the Cards and for most of the fourth quarter I thought they were taking advantage of it. Tampa Bay led 23-20 early in the fourth. But thanks to the gutsy decision to fake a punt the Cards took the lead on Kirk’s third touchdown of the day. After Ronald Jones fumble, Tampa’s third turnover of the contest, once again the Cards were poised to take advantage. Bruce Arians was out of challenges and couldn’t throw the flag on an obvious sack on Murray. Larry Fitzgerald made a tough catch over the middle and the Cards were poised to put this one away.

But Murray’s first interception since September was a backbreaker. Poor tackling and a reversed PI call led to a Bucs touchdown and some very questionable clock management by Murray and a PI call that at least warranted an extra look but got none did the Cards in.

It was a wild game, entertaining in all its messiness. But a game that was there to be won and not doing so represented failure.

Tyler Drake, reporter and editor

My focus today was on the Kenyan Drake-David Johnson touches. And after seeing the results, my money is on Drake carrying the load the rest of the way. Not only were the rushing totals in Drake’s favor, but the biggest discrepancy was in the receiving game with Drake getting six receptions to Johnson’s one. Is Drake the answer moving forward? Drake has come in and taken over as the team’s lead back, leaving questions as to what the team will do in the coming months.

Defensively, the Cardinals stepped up in limiting Chris Godwin and Mike Evans, two of the NFL’s top pass catchers, but gave way to Tampa Bay’s RBs, giving up two scores and another to an ineffective tight end in O.J. Howard. Chandler Jones was solid but the secondary still has questions to be answered.

Doug Franz, Co-host of Doug & Wolf:

The most important takeaway: Kyler can play and Kliff did a good job.

Out of all of the pass interferences that were not over-turned in the NFL, it is asinine that the 10th overturn of an on field pass interference situation is call for Mike Evans.  It is not clear and obvious that the ball was catchable.  If it is a clear violation and the overturn was correct, how then was there no overturn on the final play of the game?

But the Cardinals did not lose because of the refs.  The NFL is losing fans because of the way the games are officiated.

The Cardinals lost because Vance Joseph can’t stop tight ends, screen passes and drives inside the 2-minute warning.

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