DAN BICKLEY

Home no longer a safe haven after Cardinals’ MNF loss to Rams

Dec 13, 2021, 10:27 PM | Updated: Dec 14, 2021, 12:12 am
Van Jefferson #12 of the Los Angeles Rams catches a touchdown pass against the Arizona Cardinals du...
Van Jefferson #12 of the Los Angeles Rams catches a touchdown pass against the Arizona Cardinals during the third quarter at State Farm Stadium on December 13, 2021 in Glendale, Arizona. (Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images)
(Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images)

GLENDALE — Home is no longer a safe haven. The nest has become a pest.

The Arizona Cardinals lost a big game on Monday Night Football, falling 30-23 to the rival Los Angeles Rams at State Farm Stadium. They lost an even bigger opportunity.

When the dust had settled, Kliff Kingsbury’s Cardinals are now 0-3 in playoff-clinching games.

This loss has serious Ram-ifications. The Cardinals relinquished their grip on the No. 1 seed in the NFC, which is considered a golden ticket in the 2021 playoffs, where only one team in each conference gets a first-round bye.

Now, the road to the Super Bowl might require a trip to frigid Lambeau Field in January.

They ushered the Rams back into the division race, a team that was rocked by bad news on Monday afternoon, when star cornerback Jalen Ramsey and tight end Tyler Higbee ended up on the Covid-19 list.

So where did it all go wrong?

“The turnovers, the two fourth-down stops in their territory,” Kingsbury said after the game. “You have to give them credit. They made the plays when they had to and we didn’t.”

Start with Kyler Murray. In the NFL, the month of December is all about quarterbacks. The Rams’ Matthew Stafford shook off his critics with a vintage performance, displaying his monstrous arm talent at various points of the game. To the contrary, Murray threw a pair of costly interceptions and missed a wide-open A.J. Green for a sure touchdown.

Kingsbury also noted how proud he was of his young quarterback for fighting through the failures and all the duress he faced during the game.

Meanwhile, Sean McVay earned a measure of revenge against Kingsbury for a Week 4 drubbing in Los Angeles, as Kingsbury was thoroughly outcoached on most scorecards. It was a tough deal for the Cardinals head coach, who was on the brink of his greatest triumph, a man who had been endorsed for Coach of the Year earlier in the day by Patriots mastermind Bill Belichick.

To prevail, the Rams leaned hard into their marquee performers, as Stafford, Cooper Kupp, Odell Beckham Jr. and Aaron Donald all delivered star performances.

The Cardinals weren’t so fortunate. DeAndre Hopkins dropped a pass on a crucial fourth down. The rushing game stalled out early. Mistakes and penalties littered the field. The pass rush rarely affected Stafford, and for the first time this season, the Cardinals’ secondary was picked apart.

It all made for a dreadful evening of football, leaving a troubling question in its wake:

Why does this team struggle so mightily at home?

The Cardinals are unbeaten on the road but only 3-3 at home. They have underwhelmed in two home losses on national television, assuring that national respect will not be forthcoming anytime soon. They have two turnovers on the road in 2021 and 11 at home, where Murray seems much more prone to throw costly interceptions.

The lack of a home-field advantage is stunning, especially since the Cardinals were supported by a raucous partisan crowd on Monday night. This one is squarely on the team, not those in attendance.

“I thought it was a great crowd, the best we’ve had,” Kingsbury said.

What a shame. A victory against the Rams would’ve all but sealed up the NFC West crown. The loss changes the landscape considerably, and after the game was over, ESPN’s calculus listed Tampa as new favorites for the No. 1 seed (42%), followed by Green Bay (37%) and Arizona (15%).

The Cardinals have caught some breaks in 2021. They caught the Titans sleepwalking in Week 1. They beat the Vikings when their kicker choked on a game-winning field goal attempt. They danced out of danger in Jacksonville when the Jaguars called the stupidest trick play of the season. They didn’t have to face Nick Chubb in Cleveland.

Now, they’ve caught a wave of adversity. It’s proof that life comes at you fast, especially in the NFL. Buckle up.

Life Changer Loans
Fans of the Arizona Cardinals and the Los Angeles Rams tailgate in front of State Farm Stadium prior to an NFL football game Monday, Dec. 13, 2021, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Darryl Webb) Los Angeles Rams head coach Sean McVay, left, smiles as he slaps the helmet of wide receiver Van Jefferson (12) prior to an NFL football game against the Arizona Cardinals, Monday, Dec. 13, 2021, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Ralph Freso) Los Angeles Rams wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. warms up prior to an NFL football game against the Arizona Cardinals, Monday, Dec. 13, 2021, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Ralph Freso) Los Angeles Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford warms up prior to an NFL football game against the Arizona Cardinals, Monday, Dec. 13, 2021, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Ralph Freso) Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray (1) looks for running room against the Los Angeles Rams as Cardinals guard Max Garcia (73) makes a block prior to an NFL football game Monday, Dec. 13, 2021, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Ralph Freso) Los Angeles Rams defensive end Aaron Donald (99) is blocked by Arizona Cardinals guard Max Garcia (73) during the first half of an NFL football game Monday, Dec. 13, 2021, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Ralph Freso) Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray looks to pass the ball against the Los Angeles Rams during the first half of an NFL football game Monday, Dec. 13, 2021, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Ralph Freso) Arizona Cardinals wide receiver A.J. Green, right, makes a catch in front of Los Angeles Rams defensive back Kareen Orr (35) during the first half of an NFL football game Monday, Dec. 13, 2021, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Ralph Freso) Los Angeles Rams outside linebacker Von Miller (40) tackles Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray during the first half of an NFL football game Monday, Dec. 13, 2021, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri) Los Angeles Rams wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. (3) makes a touchdown catch against Arizona Cardinals cornerback Marco Wilson (20) during the first half of an NFL football game Monday, Dec. 13, 2021, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri) Los Angeles Rams wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. (3) celebrates his touchdown catch against Arizona Cardinals cornerback Marco Wilson (20) during the first half of an NFL football game Monday, Dec. 13, 2021, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri) Los Angeles Rams wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. (3) celebrates his touchdown against the Arizona Cardinals with wide receiver Van Jefferson (12) and other teammates during the first half of an NFL football game Monday, Dec. 13, 2021, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri) Arizona Cardinals running back James Conner (6) is pulled down by Los Angeles Rams inside linebacker Troy Reeder, left, and safety Jordan Fuller (4) during the first half of an NFL football game Monday, Dec. 13, 2021, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri) Arizona Cardinals wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins (10) is pulled down by Los Angeles Rams cornerback Darious Williams (11) during the first half of an NFL football game Monday, Dec. 13, 2021, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri) Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray (1) tosses the ball to a teammate as Los Angeles Rams defensive back David Long (22) looks on during the first half of an NFL football game Monday, Dec. 13, 2021, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri) Los Angeles Rams inside linebacker Ernest Jones, left, celebrates an interception against the Arizona Cardinals with Rams linebacker Jamir Jones (44) during the first half of an NFL football game Monday, Dec. 13, 2021, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri) Los Angeles Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford (9) throws a pass to Rams wide receiver Cooper Kupp (10) as Arizona Cardinals linebacker Dennis Gardeck, left, is blocked during the first half of an NFL football game Monday, Dec. 13, 2021, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri) Los Angeles Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford looks to pass against the Arizona Cardinals during the first half of an NFL football game Monday, Dec. 13, 2021, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Ralph Freso) Arizona Cardinals running back James Conner (6) celebrates his touchdown against the Los Angeles Rams with offensive tackle D.J. Humphries (74) during the first half of an NFL football game Monday, Dec. 13, 2021, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri) Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Christian Kirk, left, makes a catch against Los Angeles Rams cornerback Darious Williams, back left, and Rams safety Nick Scott (33) during the first half of an NFL football game Monday, Dec. 13, 2021, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri) Arizona Cardinals running back James Conner (6) scores a touchdown as he gets past Los Angeles Rams inside linebacker Troy Reeder (51) during the first half of an NFL football game Monday, Dec. 13, 2021, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri) Arizona Cardinals running back James Conner spikes the ball after his touchdown against the Los Angeles Rams during the first half of an NFL football game Monday, Dec. 13, 2021, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri) GLENDALE, ARIZONA - DECEMBER 13: A.J. Green #18 of the Arizona Cardinals carries the ball after a reception as Darious Williams #11 and Jordan Fuller #4 of the Los Angeles Rams defends during the fourth quarter at State Farm Stadium on December 13, 2021 in Glendale, Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images) Los Angeles Rams wide receiver Cooper Kupp, right, is stopped just short of the end zone by Arizona Cardinals cornerback Byron Murphy, left, during the first half of an NFL football game Monday, Dec. 13, 2021, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Ralph Freso) An Arizona Cardinals fan shouts after a Los Angeles Rams score during the first half of an NFL football game Monday, Dec. 13, 2021, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri) Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray looks for running room against the Los Angeles Rams during the first half of an NFL football game Monday, Dec. 13, 2021, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Ralph Freso) Los Angeles Rams wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. signals a first down after a pass catch against Arizona Cardinals safety Budda Baker (3) during the first half of an NFL football game Monday, Dec. 13, 2021, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Ralph Freso) Los Angeles Rams wide receiver Cooper Kupp, left, makes a touchdown catch against Arizona Cardinals cornerback Marco Wilson, right, during the second half of an NFL football game Monday, Dec. 13, 2021, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri) Los Angeles Rams outside linebacker Leonard Floyd (54) celebrates his interception against the Arizona Cardinals as Cardinals center Rodney Hudson (61) looks away during the second half of an NFL football game Monday, Dec. 13, 2021, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Ralph Freso) Los Angeles Rams outside linebacker Leonard Floyd (54) runs with the ball after making an interception against the Arizona Cardinals during the second half of an NFL football game Monday, Dec. 13, 2021, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Ralph Freso) Los Angeles Rams wide receiver Cooper Kupp (10) celebrates his touchdown against the Arizona Cardinals with guard Austin Corbett (63) and tight end Brycen Hopkins (88) during the second half of an NFL football game Monday, Dec. 13, 2021, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri) Los Angeles Rams wide receiver Cooper Kupp (10) celebrates his touchdown catch against the Arizona Cardinals with wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. (3) during the second half of an NFL football game Monday, Dec. 13, 2021, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Ralph Freso) Los Angeles Rams running back Sony Michel (25) is tackled by Arizona Cardinals defensive tackle Corey Peters (98) as Cardinals outside linebacker Markus Golden (44) looks on during the second half of an NFL football game Monday, Dec. 13, 2021, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Ralph Freso) Los Angeles Rams wide receiver Cooper Kupp (10) celebrates his touchdown catch with guard Austin Corbett (63) as Arizona Cardinals defensive tackle Leki Fotu (95) looks away during the second half of an NFL football game Monday, Dec. 13, 2021, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Ralph Freso) Arizona Cardinals wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins (10) is surrounded after he is unable to make a catch between Los Angeles Rams inside linebacker Ernest Jones (50), free safety Taylor Rapp (24), cornerback Darious Williams, second from right, and defensive back David Long (22) during the second half of an NFL football game Monday, Dec. 13, 2021, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri) Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Rondale Moore (4) makes a catch behind Los Angeles Rams outside linebacker Von Miller (40) during the second half of an NFL football game Monday, Dec. 13, 2021, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri) Los Angeles Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford (9) is sacked by Arizona Cardinals defensive tackle Jordan Phillips (97) during the second half of an NFL football game Monday, Dec. 13, 2021, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri) Arizona Cardinals wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins (10) runs with the ball as he gets past Los Angeles Rams defensive back Terrell Burgess (26) during the second half of an NFL football game Monday, Dec. 13, 2021, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Ralph Freso) DeAndre Hopkins #10 of the Arizona Cardinals reaches for the ball that ends up being incomplete during the fourth quarter against the Los Angeles Rams at State Farm Stadium on December 13, 2021 in Glendale, Arizona. (Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images) Arizona Cardinals wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins (10) breaks up a possible interception-attempt by Los Angeles Rams cornerback Darious Williams (11) on a pass intended for Hopkins during the second half of an NFL football game Monday, Dec. 13, 2021, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Ralph Freso) Los Angeles Rams outside linebacker Von Miller smiles as he points to the "88" on his helmet in memory of former Denver Broncos wide receiver Demaryius Thomas, who passed away recently, after an NFL football game against the Arizona Cardinals, Monday, Dec. 13, 2021, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri) Los Angeles Rams wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. celebrates a win over the Arizona Cardinals after an NFL football game Monday, Dec. 13, 2021, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Ralph Freso) Los Angeles Rams defensive tackle Marquise Copeland (93) celebrates with teammates after an NFL football game win over the Arizona Cardinals, Monday, Dec. 13, 2021, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Ralph Freso) Los Angeles Rams outside linebacker Von Miller, left, celebrates a win over the Arizona Cardinals with offensive lineman Jeremiah Kolone (60) after an NFL football game Monday, Dec. 13, 2021, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Ralph Freso) Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Christian Kirk (13) hauls in a long pass against Los Angeles Rams safeties Jordan Fuller (4) and Nick Scott (33) during the second half of an NFL football game Monday, Dec. 13, 2021, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri) Arizona Cardinals inside linebacker Zaven Collins (25) recovers an onside kick against the Los Angeles Rams during the second half of an NFL football game Monday, Dec. 13, 2021, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri) Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray (1) tries to elude Los Angeles Rams defensive back David Long (22) during the second half of an NFL football game Monday, Dec. 13, 2021, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri) Arizona Cardinals wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins (10) gives Los Angeles Rams safety Jordan Fuller a stiff-arm after making a catch during the second half of an NFL football game Monday, Dec. 13, 2021, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Ralph Freso)

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