Rapid reactions: Cardinals look out of sorts in road loss to Lions

Dec 19, 2021, 2:43 PM | Updated: 4:31 pm

Arizona Cardinals running back Chase Edmonds (2) is stopped by Detroit Lions outside linebacker Cha...

Arizona Cardinals running back Chase Edmonds (2) is stopped by Detroit Lions outside linebacker Charles Harris (53) during the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Dec. 19, 2021, in Detroit. (AP Photo/Lon Horwedel)

(AP Photo/Lon Horwedel)

The Arizona Cardinals looked out of sorts in the 30-12 loss to the Detroit Lions on Sunday.

The defeat also marks the first back-to-back losses for the Cardinals on the 2021 season in addition to snapping Arizona’s seven-game winning streak on the road at 7-1.

With the loss, Arizona falls to 10-4 on the year and is still looking to clinch the franchise’s first playoff berth since 2015 — the second-longest postseason drought in the NFL.

Arizona Sports’ hosts, reporters and editors share their thoughts on the Cardinals’ Week 15 loss:

John Gambadoro, co-host of Burns & Gambo: That’s three hours of your life you won’t get back. Think of the things you could have gotten done instead of watching that disaster — finished Christmas shopping, wrapped presents, cleaned the garage, did some laundry — all would have been more entertaining than watching this utter disaster of a football game.

How the Cardinals could not show up against the worst team in the league is beyond comprehension. It truly is. They were never into this game, not mentally, not physically, not emotionally. And you have to ask why? How? Is this another second-half collapse? They have lost three of five with losses to the Panthers and Lions in there.

Will they win another game? They have Indy, Dallas and Seattle to finish. Could 8-1 end up being 10-7? Who is to blame for this? Somebody better fall on the ax, as this is inexcusable. Maybe all the pundits who doubted this team are right. It sure seems that way right now.

Arizona couldn’t get out of their own way in this game. Can the Cardinals recall the playoff tickets are on sale? Looking more and more like squeaking in as a wild-card team if they get in. A 10-win team just lost to a one-win team. And you have to now wonder if the Cardinals have the heart needed to get out of this rut they are now in.

Luke Lapinski, co-host of Wolf & Luke: That has to be the most disappointing Cardinals game I’ve ever seen. I’m sure they’ve had worse performances at some point, but not when they’ve carried the talent and expectations this year’s team carries.

The offense just never got going. Yes, missing DeAndre Hopkins is a big deal, but that doesn’t mean everyone else has to just start dropping passes. And clearly they miss Rodney Hudson, but that’s not really an excuse to snap the ball before your quarterback calls for it.

The defense couldn’t stop Craig Reynolds. Let that sentence sink in. And the struggles against the run continue to be a real issue. Maybe the biggest issue, actually, because teams are able to keep Kyler Murray and the offense off the field — like the Lions did for the first 8:50 of this game. And when they finally do get out there, they look like they’re trying to make up for lost time by forcing things.

Even with all that going wrong, Arizona still had a shot today. But they were miserable inside the red zone – very uncharacteristic of a team that entered this game with the NFL’s third-best red zone efficiency — and took way too many penalties at all the wrong times. This was a MasterClass in how to lose to the worst team in the league.

While we’re at it, can we rip all the fade routes out of the playbook? At least for now? And if you know you’re going for it on fourth and short anyway, how about running it with James Conner on third, instead of throwing constantly? He’s your most reliable offensive weapon right now, and he had his second-lowest amount of carries as a Cardinal.

I realize I’ve never coached an NFL game and I’m second-guessing someone who was a Coach of the Year favorite a week ago. And normally I hate the idea of that. But second-guessing is inevitable when you lose to the Lions.

It’s not the end of the season, but it raises some real questions. Losing to Green Bay is fine. Getting run off the field by Carolina could at least be written off as that one weird game every good team seems to have. And splitting with the Rams was tough in the moment, but understandable.

Getting blown out by Detroit when you have a playoff spot on the line? Not understandable. At all. It’s mind-boggling, actually.

Tyler Drake, Cardinals reporter and editor: I started last week’s reactions piece with “yikes.”

This week is “oof.”

I can’t say this enough: the losses of J.J. Watt and Rodney Hudson — albeit for a game — were felt today.

The Cardinals seemed to be out of it from the jump. The Lions imposed their will in the running game and kept Kyler Murray and the offense on the sideline more times than not as they chewed up clock and put together scoring drives.

The defense could not find an answer for the Lions, and when it looked like it had somewhat of a grasp of things, roughing the passer calls, mental mistakes and missed tackles gave Detroit a lifeline.

And when the Cardinals offense was on the field, Murray just seemed out of sorts, missing his mark on the high side or not even getting the ball to his receiver.

After having more than enough success to start the season, the Cardinals have gone 2-3 over their last five games. It won’t get any easier as they try to lock up a playoff berth over the final three weeks, with Jonathan Taylor and the Colts on Christmas before the Cowboys and the Seahawks to close out the regular season.

A win and you’re (still) in, though, this rough patch is leaving a horrid taste in a whole lot of people’s mouths.

Kevin Zimmerman, lead editor: There are places to put the blame. Vance Joseph’s defense got off to a concerning start, getting gashed in the run game a week before the NFL’s best running back visits on Christmas. The Cardinals adjusted by halftime, when the deficit was manageable.

Kliff Kingsbury’s offense made curious decisions, remembering to use the run game to begin the second half briefly before it was way too late and tossing it to Antoine Wesley on key goal line calls. Fourth down play-calls were correct in going for it but iffy in scheme and execution. Balls were dropped sometimes, flags popped up at bad times, too.

But lots of blame goes on the players who bear the big responsibilities. The Cardinals stars didn’t show up.

Chandler Jones had the ball ran to his side with ease, and Arizona’s pass rush showing up seconds too late all game wasn’t limited to this game alone. The front seven lacks any real strength at the moment.

Kyler Murray missed high and in front too much. He hung in the pocket too long, and his worst plays arguably came on the few opportunities where the offensive line held up (see the back-breaking interception).

On both fronts, the losses of J.J. Watt and Rodney Hudson loom large after losing to one of the NFL’s worst teams. But until Arizona’s remaining best players step up, finally locking in a playoff berth won’t happen.

Jake Anderson, editor: A week ago, we were talking about the Arizona Cardinals getting a bye as the No. 1 seed in the NFC. Six days later, the Cardinals have lost two straight — for the first time this season — in addition to having their road win streak snapped at 7-1 on the year.

It was a masterful game plan from Lions head coach Dan Campbell, who jumped out to an early 17-0 halftime lead by capitalizing on Cardinals mistakes and a Kyler Murray interception. Detroit dominated the time of possession in the first half by having success on the ground with backup running back Craig Reynolds, who had 112 yards on the day. Quarterback Jared Goff also had nearly a perfect game, going for 216 yards, three touchdown passes and no turnovers on the day.

Weirdly enough, Sunday’s 30-12 loss also marks the third time in the Kliff Kingsbury-Kyler Murray era that the Cardinals allowed exactly 17 points in the first half to Lions — the first of which was the first-ever game for the duo. Arizona is now 0-2-1 in those three matchups after a 27-27 tie in 2019 and 26-23 loss last year, both of which took place in Glendale.

The loss now gives the Los Angeles Rams an opportunity to tie the Cardinals at 10-4 in the division when LA hosts the Seattle Seahawks on Tuesday. And with three more games left on the 2021 regular-season docket, two of which feature possible playoff teams.

Arizona gets another short week when it hosts Jonathan Taylor — the best running back in the NFL — and the Indianapolis Colts on Christmas Day looking to right the ship and not limp into the team’s first playoff berth since 2015.

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Rapid reactions: Cardinals look out of sorts in road loss to Lions