The sky’s not falling: Cardinals among playoff contenders with bad losses
The Arizona Cardinals suffered their worst loss of 2021 on Sunday, a lopsided 34-10 defeat at the hands of the Carolina Panthers.
It was an uncharacteristic game for Arizona, which was seemingly out of it by the end of the first quarter. Not once did the Cardinals hold a lead in Week 10 as they were outgained mightily on offense and had little to no answers for Christian McCaffrey and Carolina’s offense.
The deck was stacked against the Cardinals, however, with starting quarterback Kyler Murray, wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins and running back Chase Edmonds all on the shelf due to injury.
Arizona is not alone in having a bad loss on an otherwise impressive record, with a number of playoff contenders getting hit in the mouth at some point or another this season.
Losses are a part of the game. They’re going to happen.
As offensive lineman Kelvin Beachum said postgame, “the sky is not falling.”
A look at the top teams around the league and the worst loss of their season so far:
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (6-3)
Result: 29-19 loss in Week 10 to the Washington Football Team
Coming off a divisional loss to the New Orleans Saints before their Bye Week, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers traveled to 2-6 Washington looking for a get-right game. Instead, they ran into Taylor Heinicke and Antonio Gibson.
The duo accounted for all three of the team’s touchdowns on Sunday, with Gibson providing the knockout punch, a one-yard score, with 29 seconds left to play.
And while Tampa Bay quarterback Tom Brady tossed two scores of his own on Sunday, he also threw two interceptions in the loss.
Next up, the Buccaneers take on the New York Giants in Week 11.
Kansas City Chiefs (6-4)
Result: 27-3 loss in Week 7 to the Tennessee Titans
Record since loss: 3-0
Entering the matchup against the Tennessee Titans at .500, the Kansas City Chiefs’ season had gotten off to an already rocky start.
Then they traveled to Tennessee and suffered a 27-3 beatdown at the hands of the Titans. While Titans running back Derrick Henry was held in check on the ground, rushing for 86 yards and no scores, he threw for a touchdown. Tennessee quarterback Ryan Tannehill had two on the day, one on the ground and another through the air.
The Titans’ defense was the day’s winner, however, picking off quarterback Patrick Mahomes and limiting him to just 206 yards and no scores.
The Chiefs have since bounced back from their early miscues, rattling off three straight wins, including a 41-14 throttling of the Las Vegas Raiders on Sunday Night Football.
Tennessee Titans (8-2)
Result: 38-13 loss in Week 1 to the Arizona Cardinals
Record since: 8-1
Pegged by many as a Super Bowl contender in the preseason, the Tennessee Titans took a gut-punch in their season-opening loss to the Cardinals.
Murray put on an absolute clinic, throwing for 289 yards and four touchdowns while adding another score on the ground.
Defensively, Arizona linebacker Chandler Jones was public enemy No. 1 for the Titans, racking up five sacks on the afternoon. As a unit, the defense held Henry to 58 yards on 17 carries.
Despite the rough start to the season, Tennessee has since won eight of its last nine. The Titans’ success hasn’t been without its casualties, however, with Henry expected to miss the rest of the season due to a foot injury.
Honorable mention: 27-24 loss in Week 4 to the New York Jets
Buffalo Bills (6-3)
Result: 9-6 loss in Week 9 to the Jacksonville Jaguars
Record since: 1-0
Outside of a pair of losses, the Buffalo Bills were still flying high at 5-2 with the 1-6 Jacksonville Jaguars next up.
Buffalo’s explosive offense took a backseat in the matchup, however, scoring a pair of field goals in the 9-6 loss. Quarterback Josh Allen tossed two interceptions and was the team’s leading rusher with 50 yards.
The Bills didn’t wait long to turn the page on that one, answering back in a big win against the New York Jets on Sunday, a 45-17 drubbing.
Los Angeles Rams (7-3)
Result: 31-10 loss in Week 10 to the San Francisco 49ers
The Los Angeles Rams were already cracking this list after their Week 4 showing against the Cardinals.
Then Monday night’s debacle against the San Francisco 49ers happened.
Coming off an already ugly loss to the Titans, the Rams were smacked around by the 49ers in Week 10.
49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo had just four incompletions in the victory, throwing for 182 yards and two touchdowns. On top of that, San Francisco’s running attack had a field day against Los Angeles’ defense, adding 156 yards and a score.
The same couldn’t be said for the Rams ground game, which mustered only 52 yards. Signal caller Matthew Stafford committed two interceptions to just one touchdown through the air to go along with 243 yards.
Honorable mention: 37-20 loss in Week 4 to the Cardinals
Baltimore Ravens (6-3)
Result: 41-17 loss in Week 7 to the Cincinnati Bengals
Record since: 1-1
The Baltimore Ravens got their first taste of the new-look Cincinnati Bengals in a big way in Week 7.
Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow had a field day against Baltimore’s defense, throwing for 416 yards and three touchdowns to just one interception. His favorite target, wide receiver Ja’Marr Chase, had a career day with 201 yards and a touchdown on eight catches.
On the flipside, Ravens signal caller Lamar Jackson was held to one touchdown, while rushing for 88 yards on 12 carries.
Honorable mention: 22-10 loss in Week 9 to the Miami Dolphins
Dallas Cowboys (7-2)
Result: 30-16 loss in Week 9 to the Denver Broncos
Record since: 1-0
The Dallas Cowboys were cruising at 7-1 until Week 9’s matchup against the Denver Broncos.
Denver had little trouble scoring on Dallas, putting up 30 unanswered points until the Cowboys found the end zone in the fourth quarter. It was a complete effort offensively for the Broncos, with quarterback Teddy Bridgewater leading the way with a passing and rushing score.
Broncos running back Javonte Williams led the ground attack with 111 yards. Fellow rusher Melvin Gordon added 80 yards and a touchdown.
Dallas’ offense was held to just 78 yards rushing. Quarterback Dak Prescott threw for two touchdowns late but also had an interception.
The Cowboys had a bounce-back game in Week 10, handing out a 43-3 beatdown to the Atlanta Falcons.
Green Bay Packers (8-2)
Result: 38-3 loss in Week 1 to the New Orleans Saints
Record since: 8-1
After speculation around Aaron Rodgers’ unhappiness with the Packers led the offseason headlines, Green Bay was obliterated by the New Orleans Saints in Week 1.
Rodgers was clearly not himself, completing 15 of 28 passes for 133 yards and two interceptions, while Green Bay was limited to 43 yards on the ground.
Defensively, the Packers sat back and watched Saints signal caller Jameis Winston throw for five touchdowns. New Orleans’ run game also put up 171 yards.
Since then, Green Bay has picked up eight wins over its last nine games, scoring at least 24 points in all but one victory.