Cardinals offense remains astray, defense does all it can in loss to Seahawks

Oct 16, 2022, 6:50 PM | Updated: Oct 17, 2022, 9:52 am

SEATTLE — The Arizona Cardinals snapped their scoreless first quarter streak on the opening drive of Sunday’s matchup with the Seattle Seahawks at Lumen Field.

A field goal kicked less than five minutes into the contest were the only points Arizona’s offense put up, though, as the Cardinals fell 19-9 to drop to 2-4 on the year.

Their drives after the three points went as followed: downs, punt, punt, punt, downs, fumble, downs, punt, interception, end of game.

Quarterback Kyler Murray felt the offense moved the ball down the field but just didn’t finish drives. While Arizona only netted 315 yards, it breached the Seattle 30-yard line four times after the opening possession and came away empty-handed.

Arizona passed up field goal attempts in Seattle territory three times and failed to convert on fourth down on each occasion.

Head coach Kliff Kingsbury once again blamed himself, his team’s execution and the lack of carryover practice details have had on Sundays.

“I’ve got to do a better job of making sure we’re running things that we can execute at a high level and be efficient and stay on schedule and score touchdowns,” Kingsbury said postgame.

“We’ve just struggled throughout the season. And then execution, routine plays that we make in practice and how we do it in practice has to carry over to the games and right now it’s not.”

The only touchdown Arizona scored came on special teams, as linebacker Ezekiel Turner punched the ball loose from Seahawks punter Michael Dickson in the end zone, and Chris Banjo picked it up for the score. The point after was missed by kicker Matt Ammendola, though. 

Murray said the struggles offensively were self-inflicted. A negative play here and a flag there, as he recalled.

The quarterback was sacked six times on Sunday — twice on third down and once on fourth down — for 51 yards lost. He couldn’t get anything going downfield, going 3-for-12 on passes beyond 10 yards.

Arizona’s longest play of the day was a 42-yard run by Murray, who gained 100 of his team’s 144 rushing yards.

He said his job has not been as difficult as it is now since he was a rookie and the Cardinals went 5-10-1.

“I don’t want to get into details, but it’s tough right now,” Murray said. “Just feels like we moved the ball, we get to a certain area … we’re not doing things right, right now.”

Despite the issues on offense, Arizona was down by single digits for most of the game. Its defense allowed points on five Seahawks drives but held Seattle to four field goals.

The Seahawks only gained 296 net yards, as the Cardinals picked up key third-down stops in the red zone to hold Seattle to 1-of-5.

Arizona’s young defenders made plays.

Zaven Collins picked up his first two NFL sacks on Sunday. Rookie Cameron Thomas sacked Seahawks quarterback Geno Smith on third down in the red zone. Rashard Lawrence had a critical tackle for loss inside the 10-yard line. Rookie Myjai Sanders had the sack which led to the special teams touchdown.

It wasn’t a perfect day for the Cardinals defense, having allowed 146 rushing yards excluding the Dickson fumble and committing multiple costly penalties, but the unit ultimately kept an offense that scored 80 points over its last two games under 20.

The Cardinals have held their last four opponents to 20 points or fewer, and not being able to capitalize on such performances is bothersome to Kingsbury.

“Anytime you have a group playing that hard and playing that good, a bunch of young guys that continue to get better, flying around and offensively, we’re just not able to convert some of those opportunities they’re giving us,” Kingsbury said. “It’s definitely frustrating.”

The offense is about to make a major addition, though, as receiver DeAndre Hopkins returns from his six-game suspension in Week 7.

The Cardinals expect having the All-Pro receiver in the mix will make life a bit easier, but Kingsbury admitted Hopkins is not going to save the offense if it continues to have its current problems.

Health questions loom, as well.

Running backs James Conner and Darrel Williams did not play Sunday due to injuries. Wide receiver Marquise Brown was carted to the locker room late in Sunday’s game with a foot injury and was later in a walking boot — although he said his X-rays came back negative.

Center Rodney Hudson did not play Sunday and left guard Justin Pugh exited the game with a knee issue.

With all the adversity — self-inflicted or not — the Cardinals have faced and will continue to moving forward, the reality is they are very much in the mix for the NFC West. There is not a single team in the division above .500 through six weeks. The other three squads are each 3-3.

Going further, there will be only four teams with winning records in the entire NFC after Week 6.

“We got 11 games left,” safety Budda Baker said. “We’re just preaching on trying to get better each and every day. We lost the day, but we got a game on Thursday. Guys got to recover, guys got to strain more, guys have got to do things better each and every week.”

But Kingsbury said the offense has not been good enough collectively to compete in these types of games, leaving a lot to be repaired in order to keep Arizona in the hunt.

The Cardinals have a quick turnaround this week with the New Orleans Saints coming to State Farm Stadium on Thursday Night Football.

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