Rapid Reactions: Cardinals lose in poor performance vs. Patriots
The Arizona Cardinals lost to the New England Patriots 20-17 in a game that felt winnable on so many levels.
Cam Newton had a career-worst performance, Zane Gonzalez missed a go-ahead field goal late and Isaiah Simmons’ costly personal foul put the Patriots in field goal range for the 50-yard game-winner by Nick Folk.
Arizona Sports’ hosts and editors give their thoughts on a tough loss:
John Gambadoro, co-host of Burns & Gambo
Pathetic performance by the Cardinals today. They managed a touchdown on their opening drive after a turnover by the Patriots gave them the ball at the New England 23-yard line. They did basically nothing after that. Arizona had eight possessions following that touchdown and managed 10 total points.
They should be embarrassed. The defense was fine, and even got the big play by Dre Kirkpatrick when they needed it. But Isiaah Simmons’ inexcusable personal foul penalty gifted the Patriots 15 yards and helped set the stages for the winning 45-yard field goal by Nick Folk.
Look, I’m done with Zane Gonzalez. He needs to go ASAP. He seems to fold under the pressure when the game is on the line. I’ll take a new kicker next week — any kicker just not Zane. Time to go. You just can’t miss that field goal. And the truth is you can’t trust him.
Now, for Kliff: not sure why — when two yards at the very least makes sure that New England doesn’t get the ball back in regulation — you run Drake on a 3rd-and-2 for a one-yard gain. Again, Kliff, we all want the ball in Kyler’s hands at the moment. Why can you not get that through your thick head? Live and Die with Kyler. If he fails, we accept it. If anyone else fails that’s on you. Because, again, we all want the ball in Kyler’s hands on that play.
The Cardinals got the ball at their own 47-yard line after the Kirkpatrick interception with 4:27 left. They moved exactly 20 yards on seven plays. Epic failure, Kliff. Epic failure. I, we, need you to do one thing here Kliff. Move the ball down the field for an easier field goal attempt that comes with no time left on the clock so that the Patriots don’t get the ball back with a minute and 47 seconds left. Can you do that? Bill had a timeout in his pocket on that 3rd-and-2 play Kliff. The clock was stopping no matter what. Roll Kyler out and let him either run it or throw a short pass. You are becoming predictable in these late game situations. Not good.
Go back to the drawing board and find a blanking play that will work on 3rd and 2. That was a very, very winnable game. The coaching has to be better.
Vince Marotta, co-host of Bickley & Marotta
Jordan Byrd, host of Arizona Sports Saturday and producer of Burns & Gambo
The Cardinals finally got off to a fast start today, unfortunately, they played arguably their worst team game for the remaining three quarters.
All three phases of the Cardinals roster had significant issues today that helped contribute to their gut-punch loss to the Patriots Sunday.
Offensively, the unit left a lot to be desired as we have yet to see Kliff Kingsbury’s system run at full capacity. The lack of Kyler Murray’s running ability today seemed to stall the offense all day and also made Kyler seem uncomfortable at times. The New England secondary was torched by Deshaun Watson and the Texans last week but the Cardinals didn’t appear interested at all in testing them and kept most of their pass attempts to ten yards or less. Kyler’s inability to be involved in quarterback sneaks was fully on display in short-yardage situations and was made all the more frustrating seeing Cam Newton routinely sneaking the ball for yardage. We have been told that Chris Streveler is this versatile Taysom Hill-type player, but since Week 2, Kingsbury has shown an unwillingness to use the man who’s nickname is The Leveler.
Zane Gonzalez made headlines once again for all the wrong reasons. His miss late in the fourth quarter that would have given the Cardinals the lead should be the final nail in the coffin for his time in Arizona. You can’t continue to trot out a guy who time after time this season has failed to deliver. Most of the high profile misses by Gonzalez have been in very makeable territory and the Cards cannot keep hoping that something magically changes. Issues with short punts and kick return coverage were also a problem and helped contribute to New England being able to hang around.
For the most part, the defense played OK. Newton’s numbers were far from impressive, and the Arizona defense made some necessary stops. But when the game was on the line. they couldn’t get the job done. Even after the Gonzalez miss, the Cards had the Patriots in 3rd and long and allowed Cam to scramble for a first down while also adding 15 more yards for Isaiah Simmons’ personal foul hit. These types of miscues have become the rule and not the exception for a team that continues to lead the entire NFL in penalties.
This was one of the Cardinals’ most painstaking losses of the season. What makes it hurt so much is that now the Cardinals are watching their playoff chances starting to slip away. What once looked like a safe cushion between themselves and the others chasing them in the standings has now turned into a precarious situation. With the Rams on the schedule next week, the Cardinals are looking at the distinct possibility of falling to .500 and allowing those teams nipping at their heels to have a renewed sense of hope that they can overtake Arizona in the Wild Card race.
Dave Burns, host of Burns & Gambo
What do kickers, closers and teenage boys have in common? Trust in any of them doesn’t come easy.
Of course, there are exceptions to that rule, but it would appear that Zane Gonzalez is not one of them.
A horrible loss by the Cardinals; one that will be easy to pin on the Cardinals kicker. There are other reasons the Cards lost to the Patriots – there always are – but a 45-yard field goal in that moment is non-negotiable. You can’t be the kicker of a potential playoff team if you’re going to make a habit of missing those. Gonzalez is now 8-for-12 from 40-49 yards this year and for all the Cardinals on that plane, his will be the longest and loneliest ride home.
His struggles in the opener against the 49ers were a footnote. He managed redemption against Seattle, but his miss from 41 in overtime planted the seeds of doubt. His unusually short miss against Miami watered those seeds. But after today, doubts about Gonzalez will pop up like weeds all over the yard. The phrase “three strikes and you’re out” comes to mind and it feels like Gonzalez just got caught looking at a pitch on the outside corner.
The other reasons were loud and obvious. The Cards’ special teams gifted the Patriots 10 points. Fans will question the play calling on 4th-and-goal in the first half but it wouldn’t get to that point if Christian Kirk makes the catch on second down. Isaiah Simmons’ hit on Cam Newton late in the game might not have been flag worthy but probably wasn’t a risk worth taking. And Kyler without his running mojo takes all the juice out of this offense. Kliff Kingsbury has to scheme it better if teams are going to keep taking it away.
More than anything, the Cards should have beaten — should have thumped — a team that produced 179 yards of offense and a pedestrian performance by their quarterback. But our trust in this team to win in those moments, much like our trust in its kicker, is starting to fade.
Luke Lapinski, host of The Rundown with Luke Lapinski
The loss to Seattle was a missed opportunity. But on some level, you could accept it. This was a wasted effort, and it’s not really acceptable at all.
Arizona is built to win with offense. So when the defense holds a team to 20 points, that needs to be a win. Instead, the Cardinals could only manage 17 points against a pretty average New England team today. And now the conversation switches from winning the NFC West to simply surviving and making the playoffs. There’s not a lot of room for error here.
Kyler Murray wasn’t nearly as explosive as he usually is. If that’s simply a byproduct of being a second-year quarterback facing a team coached by Bill Belichick, then it shouldn’t really be a huge deal big picture. But if we’re seeing lingering effects from that hit he took in the Seattle game, we may have a problem. Because even though Murray himself emphasized after the game that he doesn’t have to run for this team to win games, I respectfully disagree. At least in the sense that he needs to be the guy we saw for the first nine games who could break off a 25-yard run at any time if they want to make a legitimate playoff run.
I’m not going to overreact here. Not yet, anyway. But I’m not real interested in burying my head in the sand and pretending everything’s fine either. It’s easy to blame the kicker, but Zane Gonzalez does need to start making these 40-50 yarders at the end of games. This is the NFL. If you plan on being in big games – and you’re not the Kansas City Chiefs – most of those games are going to come down to a couple points in the closing seconds. That’s just the reality of the situation.
And that Isaiah Simmons penalty to put the Patriots in field goal range at the end is especially painful. Not just because it was his second costly penalty of the game, but also because New England didn’t look like a team that was going to be able to move the ball quickly at all. That penalty was exactly what they needed and the Cardinals bailed them out.
Also did anyone think there was any chance Nick Folk would miss that 50-yarder as time expired? Has any kicker missed a long field goal against the Cardinals this season? Because it sure doesn’t feel like it.
Doug Franz, co-host of Doug & Wolf
Exact same situation as the end of the Miami game.
Exact same decision by Kliff Kingsbury to bench the Heisman Trophy-winning, number one pick overall in order to bring in a kicker.
Exact same result.
In comes the Vance Joseph defense who has allowed more points after the two-minute warning than any defensive coordinator not named Mike Nolan.
Players win games. Coaches lose them.
Kellan Olson, ArizonaSports.com editor and reporter
I’m feeling good about what I wrote in this space last week. The loss in Seattle felt like a tipping point of sorts for all the signs the Cardinals provided of being a bad team, and it looks like Arizona’s gonna keep losing games like this because of it.
They’re also going to be put in those situations, and not bailed out of them like they were prior, if Kyler Murray isn’t running. Kliff Kingsbury and Murray clearly did not want to share after the game that Murray’s shoulder impacted the game at all, and that’s fine. They can choose to say that, but it literally was the difference in the game.
For goodness sake, Murray made two throws while practically falling over because he was trying so badly to not get hit. And remember the scramble when he was two yards short because of the way he chose to dive in the middle of the field? Hogwash, I say.
What a crazy season this has been. We’re a few missed Zane Gonzalez kicks and terrible Kingsbury decisions away from this being a 9-2 or 10-1 football team. Remember, the five losses for this team are by three, 10, three, seven and three points. Isn’t that nuts? They could also be 4-7 if not for that ludicrous OT win over the Seahawks and the Hail Murray!
This is certainly not a good football team until the Cardinals prove otherwise. Could Kingsbury get fired despite delivering the league’s number one offense? Because of the ineptitude he continues to display, potentially! Wild stuff!