Rise and shine! Cardinals’ loss to Lions ‘better be’ a wake-up call

Dec 20, 2021, 10:20 AM
Kyler Murray #1 of the Arizona Cardinals reacts to a penalty in the fourth quarter of the game agai...
Kyler Murray #1 of the Arizona Cardinals reacts to a penalty in the fourth quarter of the game against the Detroit Lions at Ford Field on December 19, 2021 in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Emilee Chinn/Getty Images)
(Photo by Emilee Chinn/Getty Images)

The momentum has come to a screeching halt for the Arizona Cardinals.

The Cardinals not only got hit in the mouth on Monday Night Football, they followed the defeat up with a disaster of a loss to the now-two-win Detroit Lions.

If you’ve been pressed to find the low point of the season for Arizona, it’s this.

From a defensive standpoint, the Cardinals have given up back-to-back 30-point efforts for the first time all season. It’s just the second time the Lions scored 30 points or more all season, with the only other time being their season-opening 41-33 loss to the San Francisco 49ers.

“It better [be a wake-up call],” Cardinals linebacker Jordan Hicks told reporters after the Detroit loss. “At the end of the day, we gotta continue to move forward. The best thing we’ve done is take every week one at a time and focus on that and be able to correct the mistakes that we made in the past. These past two weeks haven’t been that.

“We gotta take a step back, look at ourselves in the mirror and understand where we’re at and understand the opportunity that’s ahead and get back to the basics and take it one game at a time.”

Arizona’s defense could not find an answer for the first 30 minutes of action as it watched Detroit drive down the field and pick up key third downs before cashing in on either a field goal or touchdown. The Lions converted six of 13 third-down conversions (46%) to go along with a successful fourth-down try.

Leading the way was the duo of quarterback Jared Goff, who tossed three touchdowns for just the third time this season, and running back Craig Reynolds, a practice squad call-up that ran for a career-high 112 yards on 26 carries.

And with the Arizona defense unable to get off the field for most of the first half, the offense was left scrambling to make things happen.

“Guys gotta come in and make sure the game plan is fully set,” Hicks said when asked what needs to happen to get over this losing hump. “And at the end of the day, we gotta execute, we gotta make the plays that come our way. We gotta find a way to get our offense more possessions, more opportunities to go down and score.”

Only the team’s 34-10 loss to the Carolina Panthers in Week 10 saw fewer points scored than in the 30-12 defeat on Sunday.

Arizona couldn’t find a rhythm, especially in fourth-down situations, converting just one of its three attempts is the loss to Detroit. In the red zone, the Cardinals were 0-for-4 on Sunday, highlighted by an 0-for-2 mark in goal-to-go scenarios.

Running back James Conner saw just 10 touches in total and wasn’t utilized in the red zone like he had been after being one of the offense’s best options this season.

Quarterback Kyler Murray turned in his worst performance in terms of passing percentage, completing 56.1% of his throws for 257 yards, a touchdown and an interception. He finished with a QBR of 7.6, a career low.

“I hope [it’s a wake-up call],” Murray told reporters after the game. “When you get beat like this in the fashion that we did today, it’s an ugly taste. I know the guys in there will rally behind each other and we’ll get it done.”

There’s certainly a lot to clean up as the Cardinals now prep on a short week for NFL-leading rusher Jonathan Taylor and the Indianapolis Colts, winners of their last two and desperate to stay afloat in the AFC playoff picture.

There hasn’t been a bigger week of practice for the Cardinals all season.

“At the end of the day, we know who we are,” Murray said. “We know the guys we’ve got in the locker room. We’ve got the talent, we’ve got the coaches, we’ve got the leadership. All of that’s there, it’s just about locking in and playing up to our capabilities and not screwing everything else pretty much.

“We have to be how we were at the beginning of the season, at the middle of the season as well. We’ve just got to lock in and be better.”

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Rise and shine! Cardinals’ loss to Lions ‘better be’ a wake-up call