Cardinals unable to make up for loss of Kyler Murray, miscues vs. Patriots

Dec 12, 2022, 11:54 PM | Updated: Dec 13, 2022, 3:09 pm

Arizona Cardinals QB Colt McCoy (left) and RB James Conner (right). (Jeremy Schnell/Arizona Sports)...

Arizona Cardinals QB Colt McCoy (left) and RB James Conner (right). (Jeremy Schnell/Arizona Sports)

(Jeremy Schnell/Arizona Sports)

GLENDALE — Fresh off the bye week, the Arizona Cardinals entered their Monday Night Football matchup against the New England Patriots about as healthy as they were going to get at this point in the season.

Not even a full possession in, and that thought was thoroughly out of the window in Arizona’s eventual 27-13 loss to New England.

Just three plays into Arizona’s first drive of the evening, quarterback Kyler Murray went down with a non-contact injury to his left knee and was visibly shaken up as he was carted off the field. He attempted and completed just one pass for nine yards and ran for three more before going down.

It didn’t take long for reports to surface that Murray’s knee injury was as serious as it looked.

For a Cardinals team searching for momentum and something to hang its hat on this late in the year, Murray going down in that fashion was about worst-case scenario for head coach Kliff Kingsbury and Co.

“It’s tough. You see teams go through it every week, but you lose your starter on the third play of the game, non-contact, and it’s just tough to watch and see,” Kingsbury said postgame. “Got to be able to rebound and continue to play the game, though.”

“Obviously, it didn’t look good,” the head coach added. “I’ve never seen him in that type of shape, so I assumed it wasn’t good.”

Stepping in for Murray was backup Colt McCoy, who has found success in Kingsbury’s offense before.

Unfortunately for McCoy and Arizona, the script of this 2022 Cardinals team continued on as many expected, with the Cardinals once again turning in undisciplined football at home paired with missed opportunities.

“The self-inflicted stuff offensively was really bad tonight,” Kingsbury said. “The illegal shifts on big plays, you can’t do that. It’s just unacceptable and we’ve got to be better. No matter who’s out there operating, no matter who’s — obviously there are some guys that are backups that are getting a lot of time. We’ve just got to execute at a high level and when you have a chance to make plays you have to make them.”

After getting dinged with an illegal shift in the first quarter, Arizona’s offense committed two false starts, an offensive holding (that was declined due to a Patriots sack), another illegal shift, an illegal touched pass and offensive pass interference over the course of the final 20:48 of the matchup.

Throw in a Hollywood Brown wide-open drop on fourth down in Patriots territory, a costly DeAndre Hopkins fumble that was returned by the Patriots for a third-quarter touchdown and an interception on the part of McCoy and no matter how big the shovel, the Cardinals weren’t clawing their way out of this one with mastermind Bill Belichick playing with a lead.

Again, the Cardinals had two opponents on Monday night: The Patriots and themselves.

“We hurt ourselves tonight just situationally,” McCoy said postgame. “The shifting penalties took away two explosive passes, I missed Hollywood down in the red zone — kind of a scramble, almost a created a play — really wish I could have that one back.

“They’re a good football team, they’re obviously very well-coached. We had our opportunities tonight and unfortunately, we just let it slip away. That’s starts with me. There are some things that I would definitely like to have back. When we get in a situation to drop back push the ball down the field, we’re not built like that right now.”

The only real bright spot on Monday was Arizona’s ground game behind James Conner.

For a second straight game, Conner made his presence known in the backfield, finishing with 85 rushing yards and a touchdown on 15 carries. He averaged 5.7 yards per attempt and also caught six of seven targets for 29 yards.

The loss on Monday also marks the second-consecutive matchup Arizona as a team has passed the century mark on the ground, putting up 113 yards after recording 181 against the Los Angeles Chargers in Week 12.

At 4-9, the Cardinals’ hope of returning to the playoffs are gone. The streak of consecutive seasons of improvement for both Murray and the team as a whole has been snapped.

That doesn’t mean Arizona’s season is over. Shoot, there are still four games to be played before closing the Cardinals’ book on 2022.

It’s on the coaching staff and the players to end things on their terms.

“Where we’re at sucks, but we have to turn the chapter,” Hopkins said postgame. “It’s the NFL and you never know what can happen. A lot of guys are playing a lot of ball, so you just have to turn the page. It’s a short week.”

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