Arizona Cardinals’ red zone failures glaring in lopsided loss to lowly Lions

Dec 19, 2021, 2:08 PM | Updated: Dec 20, 2021, 8:10 am
Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray (1) is pressured by Detroit Lions inside linebacker Jale...

Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray (1) is pressured by Detroit Lions inside linebacker Jalen Reeves-Maybin (44) during the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Dec. 19, 2021, in Detroit. (AP Photo/Jose Juarez)

(AP Photo/Jose Juarez)

The Arizona Cardinals offense could not figure it out in Detroit.

On the opposite side of a lopsided 30-12 loss, the Cardinals had no answers for the Lions defense despite getting more than enough advantageous looks.

“We’re obviously pissed to come out and play like that,” head coach Kliff Kingsbury told reporters Sunday. “That’s not who we want to be or what we want to be but I gotta tip my hat to Detroit. I thought they had a tremendous plan. … They outcoached us, outplayed us and we gotta be better.”

After being held scoreless for most of the first half, the Cardinals’ fourth drive of the afternoon appeared to be the most promising.

Starting from their own 39-yard line, quarterback Kyler Murray and the offense looked to have found their rhythm, driving all the way down to the Lions’ 3-yard line on seven plays.

But on third- and fourth-down looks, Murray couldn’t hit his man, coming away with zero points and giving the momentum right back to Detroit.

The Lions would respond with a decent drive of their own just before halftime, capped off by a Jared Goff 22-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Josh Reynolds.

“Got to give them credit, they did a great job of converting those third downs. I thought Jared was tremendous and you’d like to get off and swing momentum but we weren’t able to,” Kingsbury said.

It would be a sign of things to come for Arizona.

Starting with the ball in the second half, the Cardinals got a big boost from running back James Conner, who ran the rock 22 yards on the first play from scrimmage to give Arizona another first down in a short-field situation. A Chase Edmonds chunk play a few snaps later would push Arizona further into Detroit territory.

But a promising 1st-and-10 look from the Lions’ 18-yard line quickly turned to a 3rd-and-3 situation after the drive lost its legs. A Kyler Murray incompletion to A.J. Green would spell the end to any chances at scoring a touchdown, though Arizona did come away with points of some kind in a Matt Prater field goal.

“I thought that first drive in the second half we were a little bit more efficient but it wasn’t good enough,” Kingsbury said.

Unfortunately for the Cardinals, their ensuing drive reflected much like the last.

Down 24-3 after another Goff touchdown throw and on their own 17-yard line, the Cardinals once again kicked off their drive with a 20-yard pass from Murray to tight end Zach Ertz.

Behind the arm of Murray, Arizona was able to flip the field in a hurry, eventually getting down to Detroit’s 10-yard line with a new set of downs. A bad snap and an incompletion would spell the end to any touchdown optimism as the Cardinals had to settle once again for a Prater field goal.

All told, the Cardinals failed to convert all four of their red zone looks in the loss, with their only touchdown coming on a 26-yard score by Christian Kirk.

“This is the NFL, it’s not easy,” Murray told reporters after the loss. “If you don’t come prepared, don’t give respect to who you’re playing, you get beat. Hats off to them.”

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