Rapid reactions: Cardinals’ home record falls to .500 in MNF loss to Rams
Dec 13, 2021, 11:23 PM | Updated: Dec 14, 2021, 4:09 am
(Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
The Arizona Cardinals’ comeback fell short in a 30-23 loss on Monday Night Football to the Los Angeles Rams.
Coming into the contest, Arizona had an opportunity to be the first team in the NFL to clinch a playoff spot with a win that would also put one hand of the NFC West division crown.
But unfortunately for the Cardinals, their record at home this season fell to 3-3 compared to their perfect 7-0 stretch away from State Farm Stadium.
Arizona Sports’ hosts, reporters and editors share their thoughts on the Cardinals’ Week 14 loss:
John Gambadoro, co-host of Burns & Gambo: Arizona lost for only the third time in 13 games. The problem is all three are at home and they have come in their last three home games. The Cardinals have a “Home Alone” problem. They play at State Farm Stadium like the 64,000 in attendance are not there. They have no home-field advantage.
They have a mind-boggling 11 turnovers at home and only two on the road. They turned the ball over two more times tonight and the Rams turned them into 14 points. Arizona’s defense, which has been so good all year, had no answer to get pressure on Matthew Stafford or in coverage against Cooper Kupp (13 catches on 15 targets for 123 yards and a touchdown) or Odell Beckham Jr., who had six catches on seven targets for 77 yards and a touchdown.
The Rams were down two starting offensive linemen, their tight end and Jalen Ramsey — and won. Aaron Donald feasted — Chandler Jones was a no-show again. The good news for Arizona is they are not home next week — they go to Detroit on a short week. The Lions only have one win but five of their losses were one-score games. So Arizona better be ready. In the meantime, the Cardinals’ next home game is Christmas Day against the Colts. And if they don’t want to be the Grinch, they better figure out these issues at home and quickly!
Dave Burns, co-host of Burns & Gambo: The LA Rams are a top-heavy team, reliant upon their stars to carry them. Their stars came out on Monday Night Football.
Let’s start with the wrecking ball: three sacks for Aaron Donald. Matthew Stafford 287 yards and three touchdowns. Cooper Kupp had 13 catches for 123 yards and a touchdown and Odell Beckham Jr. added 77 yards and a touchdown. The Rams lost Jalen Ramsey to the COVID list and many (me included) assumed this LA story would have an unhappy ending for the road team. Instead, the other stars on the roster put on a show.
But they had help. Lots of it. Namely in the form of the turnovers that continue to plague the Cardinals at home. Two more Kyler interceptions at his home stadium, both leading to Rams touchdowns and one coming at the goal line which undoubtedly took potential points off the board. The Cardinals now have committed 11 turnovers in their six home games, seven of which are Murray picks. You want to know why the Cardinals have struggled to a 3-3 home record? It starts there.
An unusual DeAndre Hopkins drop on fourth down and a failure by the Cardinals to even attempt to pounce on a Stafford fumble added to the mess. Toss in Kliff Kingsbury’s curious decision not to kick a field goal late in the game when they in fact needed both a field goal and a touchdown and you have the most frustrating game of the season. The door to lose the NFC West has been left open, albeit slightly, and the No. 1 seed in the NFC will now require more work and more help.
And the Cardinals, trying so hard to prove their legitimacy, instead just provided ammunition to their critics.
Luke Lapinski, co-host of Wolf & Luke: I don’t want to overreact. Let’s get that out of the way first. The Cardinals lost a game in December — that doesn’t end your season. And even though they don’t have the tiebreaker, they’re still locked in a race with the Packers and Buccaneers for the best record in football after 14 weeks. Let’s not totally lose perspective here.
Now that I’ve said that, I feel obligated to overreact and totally lose perspective here for a minute. There’s a lot to hate about what happened tonight. The Cardinals just lost their third straight game at home, they opened the door for the Rams to climb back into the division race, they did it on primetime with some questionable game and clock management decisions late and — maybe worst of all — they did it against a depleted team.
Everybody’s banged up and missing players this time of year, but LA losing Jalen Ramsey hours before the game seemingly paved the way for Arizona’s offense to get going. And they did put up 447 yards. But they also left a lot of points on the board, and they just haven’t had a game where they’ve rolled at full strength with Kyler Murray and DeAndre Hopkins on the field together in nearly two months now.
In seven road games, the Cards are plus-56 in the first quarter. That’s truly elite, and the sign of a potentially great team. But it also makes the minus-9 they’ve put up in the first quarter over six home games that much more baffling.
Now fans in the Valley have to endure the doubters gleefully pointing to the national narrative that says the Cardinals aren’t ready to win big games yet. Never mind the fact they already beat LA once this year, and hammered the Titans, Browns and a few other playoff-bound teams. Their 0-2 record in prime time is going to get all the attention. And, right or wrong, they knew that was going to be the case.
Big picture, the Cardinals are still in good shape – assuming Hopkins and James Conner are okay. They still lead the NFC West and the No. 1 seed is still within reach. But now they’ll need some help down the stretch to get that top spot. And that’s big, because finishing No. 2 or No. 3 likely means you have to go through both Aaron Rodgers and Tom Brady in the playoffs, instead of just one.
Tyler Drake, Cardinals reporter and ArizonaSports.com editor: Yikes. One step forward, two or three steps back. The Cardinals could never get out of their own way, especially on defense.
Right when it looked like Arizona was getting something rolling, poor execution or a costly penalty seemed to immediately follow.
The can’t-win-at-home (or at least put together a full four quarters) narrative lives to see another day. And you better believe the national media is gonna rip into this one to kick off the week. The worst part of it all? The Rams were without multiple starters, including cornerback Jalen Ramsey and running back Darrell Henderson.
But for as bad a loss as this is gonna look and feel, Arizona still managed to keep things close for most of the evening. Much of that can be credited mostly to James Conner, with an added contribution from A.J. Green.
Not only did Conner turn in two scores on the ground, he caught all eight of his targets for 85 yards as a pass-catcher. Only A.J. Green had more receiving yards (102) for Arizona.
Arizona’s home woes could very well be coincidental, but at this point, the trend is glaring. The Cardinals will have to have a short memory this week, with a quicker turnaround than normal before next week’s matchup. Luckily for Arizona, Week 15’s tilt is not only on the road, it’s against the Detroit Lions. I do not envy them one bit following Monday’s defeat.
Kevin Zimmerman, ArizonaSports.com lead editor: Sometimes, it’s not your day. Murray threw for 383 yards and had a 72.1 passer rating thanks to a 0:2 touchdown-to-turnover ratio. Meanwhile, the Rams’ Matthew Stafford hit on two or three monumental throws in terms of results but also insane accuracy. On the other side, turnovers killed the Cardinals.
No, they didn’t play that clean of a game either, but there’s nothing to freak out about in a seven-point loss to a probably very good team that — unfortunately for Arizona — clicked like it hasn’t against a winning team this year. If we’re trying to get into actually concerning things, it’s that DeAndre Hopkins and James Conner got dinged up at the end of the Cardinals’ loss.
It was also at least a yellow flag that Arizona’s pass-rush seemed sleepy all night. Los Angeles neutralized the outside linebackers especially, and it would take a smarter person than me to determine if that is a formula other teams can steal or just poor play on the Cardinals’ end.
The Arizona offense made enough red zone trips to score in the mid-30s. I wouldn’t be that worried about that side of the ball unless the carelessness strings together through a few games.
Jake Anderson, ArizonaSports.com editor: Coincidence or a trend? That’s the concerning question regarding the Cardinals when it comes to playing at home, especially in primetime.
Arizona is now 3-3 at State Farm Stadium compared to a perfect 7-0 streak on the road this year. Granted, two of those losses were to the Packers and Rams — two probable playoff teams — but it was the way in which the Cardinals lost that is so frustrating. Aside from the turnovers, it’s the little missed plays that can determine the outcome of games. Tonight’s edition featured an errant pass from Kyler Murray on what would’ve been a touchdown, in addition to a fourth-down drop by one of the best wide receivers in the game in DeAndre Hopkins.
Both of the Cardinals’ home primetime losses also featured their opponent missing one of its biggest stars in Packers WR DeVante Adams and Rams CB Jalen Ramsey, respectively, while Arizona was predominately healthy. And with both those games also being in primetime, don’t be surprised to see the national media take their shots at the legitimacy of the Cardinals as Super Bowl contenders.
Winning close games is a sign of a good team and Arizona has shown that ability this year. And for whatever reason, the majority of those have come on the road. So maybe it might actually be a good thing that the Cardinals have nine road games this season instead of eight, with two more on the docket at Detroit next week and at Dallas in Week 17.