Seahawks ‘wanted it more’ in Arizona Cardinals’ season finale loss at home
GLENDALE — Like Rob Base said during his halftime performance at State Farm Stadium on Sunday, “It takes two to make a thing go right.”
The Arizona Cardinals did not take the rapper’s advice.
Unable to play complementary football, highlighted by the inability to stop the Seattle Seahawks from picking up chunks of yardage at a time while coming up short in the red zone more times than not, summed up Arizona’s 38-30 loss to the Seahawks to close out the regular season.
“I just felt like they played like they wanted it more,” Cardinals head coach Kliff Kingsbury said postgame. “Outcoached, outplayed us. You’ve got to give them a lot of credit. They knew it was their last game and they still played at a really high level.”
The defeat hands the Cardinals their fifth straight loss at home to close out the year. The team’s 8-1 road mark was watered down by its 3-5 home record.
The loss also means Arizona travels to Los Angeles for a Wild Card matchup against the Rams.
Given Los Angeles’ loss to the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday, Arizona had a shot at winning the NFC West title and hosting a playoff game. Instead, they must now travel to Southern California next week.
“Me personally, (I’m frustrated),” quarterback Kyler Murray said after the game. “Mood of the team? I think everybody realizes it’s a new season. Really nothing in the past matters at this point. I think that’s the focus, you gotta go 1-0. This is one-and-done if you don’t win and I think the guys understand that. But obviously after losing, it’s definitely frustrating.”
It certainly feels like an opportunity lost for the Cardinals, who got an immediate boost from defenders Chandler Jones and Zach Allen on just the second play from scrimmage.
Staring at a 2nd-and-10 from his own 25-yard line, Wilson dropped back to pass as the pocket deteriorated in an instant, with Jones jarring the ball loose. Allen was in the right place at the right time to scoop and score.
For a team that seemed to lull itself through the first half at home, this looked like anything but.
“We always preach about starting fast and, obviously, that was a pretty fast start,” Allen said postgame. “It’s always something that you hope to build off of.”
Build off of the defense’s success the Cardinals could not, however, as Wilson and the Seahawks responded with a five-play, 75-yard drive that ended in a Tyler Lockett touchdown.
The 43-yard score marked one of nine Seattle plays that went for at least 20 yards on Sunday, absolute momentum killers for Arizona.
Arizona’s offense couldn’t say the same, putting up just two plays of 20 or more yards.
But the biggest area of concern for the Cardinals offense revolved around critical short-yardage situations.
Of the team’s three red zone trips, only one resulted in a touchdown. The other two drives, including one that went for season highs in plays and time of possession, resulted in a pair of field goals from Matt Prater. Both drives stalled out inside the 10-yard line.
“They basically played bend-but-don’t-break defense and, obviously, we couldn’t punch it in,” Murray said. “I think we had a penalty on the last drive that pushed us back but we gotta be better going into playoffs.”
“We just haven’t been very good down there,” Kingsbury added. “Whether it’s scheme or execution, just missed opportunities, negative plays continue to haunt us and we’ve got to score touchdowns to win these type games.”
The Cardinals could have ended the regular season on a high note with back-to-back wins and an NFC West title for the first time since 2015. The trajectory of this team could have been on the rise once again as they enter the postseason.
Instead, the Cardinals must be road dogs once more. Though, is that necessarily a bad thing after watching Arizona give its best Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde impression when it comes to home and road games?