Cardinals’ early successes fizzle away in 2nd half of Week 2 loss to Giants
Sep 17, 2023, 6:34 PM | Updated: 8:37 pm
(Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images)
GLENDALE — A scoreless Arizona Cardinals offense proved to be the missing link in a game that got away against the Washington Commanders in a season-opening loss.
A week later, it set the tone early on in an eventual 31-28 loss to the New York Giants on Sunday.
Surpassing their Week 1 offensive output, quarterback Joshua Dobbs and the Cardinals quickly picked up three more first downs than they did in all of their season-opening loss to the Washington Commanders. They ended their scoreless streak like it was nothing behind 20 unanswered points and fed running back James Conner early and often.
And they did so in just half the time, achieving those marks in the first two quarters alone.
Defensively, Arizona once again looked stout against the competition, holding both quarterback Daniel Jones and running back Saquon Barkley in check for the first 30 minutes.
For the home crowd that was been forced to watch the Cardinals toil away games at State Farm Stadium under the previous regime, it was a refreshing sight to behold regardless of all the end-of-season projections and draft talk.
Even when the Giants finally found the end zone in the third quarter, the Cardinals were there to answer right back to push their lead to 28-7 following a successful two-point conversion.
But for all the good Arizona strung together in just over two quarters of action, it followed it up with a whole lot of bad on both sides of the football.
The offense that hung 28 points up on the scoreboard suddenly went stagnant. The defense that kept the Giants in check was now the one getting pushed around by Jones and Co.
“We got to coach better. We got outplayed in the second half — tale of two halves — we got to do a better job helping our guys out, because the effort’s there, the intensity’s there, just got to coach a little bit better,” head coach Jonathan Gannon said postgame.
After scoring a touchdown or field goal on five of their first six drives of the game, the Cardinals final four drives went as so:
– Eight plays for 41 yards (punt)
– Three plays for four yards (punt)
– Three plays for nine yards (punt)
– Three plays for 19 yards (end of game)
That kind of offensive inefficiently won’t do any favors for a team’s momentum regardless of lead.
“I’m really sick to my stomach, I’m hurt,” Conner said postgame. “I’m not discouraged, but I’m hurt for sure. We in this thing together. The offense put up a couple more points than we did last week and it still wasn’t enough. Didn’t complete the mission.”
“You feel like you have a good thing going and then they’re executing and we’re not. It’s tough, it hurts,” he added.
It didn’t help that the defense couldn’t do a thing to stop a rejuvenated Giants offense on the other end.
Coming away with points in each of its final five drives of the afternoon — highlighted by four straight touchdowns — New York turned from cupcake to juggernaut while Arizona did the complete opposite.
The Cardinals defense had no answer in the second half for Jones or Barkley, especially in early down situations.
The quarterback turned what looked like a game to forget into 321 yards and two touchdowns to one interception on 26-of-37 passing. He added 59 yards and another score on nine carries.
And despite his 3.7 yards per carry, Barkley still managed to find pay dirt as both a runner and receiver.
“We gave up some explosives there and really couldn’t get them to third down enough,” Gannon said. “Obviously, we didn’t get any stops. You get outscored 31-8 in the half and typically you’re not going to win a game, so we got to do a better job.”
“We knew Daniel coming in. He extended plays and it falls solely on me with that,” the head coach added. “It’s like, ‘Hey, we got to understand a little bit better and execute a little bit better.’ It starts with me.”
For now, it’s back to the drawing board for a Cardinals team still looking for its first home win since their Oct. 20 victory over the New Orleans Saints in 2022.
They won’t have to wait long to make up for Sunday’s loss, either, with the 2-0 Dallas Cowboys coming town in Week 3.