Rapid reactions: Cardinals blow 2nd-half lead in Week 2 loss to Giants

Sep 17, 2023, 5:35 PM | Updated: Sep 18, 2023, 8:06 am

James Conner, Arizona Cardinals...

Arizona Cardinals running back James Conner is tackled by the New York Giants on Sunday, Sept. 17, 2023, in Glendale, Ariz. (Felisa Cardenas/Arizona Sports)

(Felisa Cardenas/Arizona Sports)

The Arizona Cardinals lost in a rollercoaster of a home opener against the New York Giants at State Farm Stadium on Sunday.

Leading 20-0 at half and 28-7 in the third quarter, Arizona dropped the contest allowing 24 unanswered points and fell to 0-2 on the season.

Despite the blown lead in the second half, Arizona showed life offensively running the ball with effectiveness and finding a few plays chunk plays from Josh Dobbs’ athleticism. Additionally, the defense pitched a shutout in the first half and took down Daniel Jones three times, bringing the sack total to nine on the year.

Arizona Sports’ hosts, reporters and editors share their thoughts on the Cardinals’ Week 2 loss:

John Gambadoro, co-host of Burns & Gambo: Somehow us talk show hosts have to explain how the Cardinals lost at home again after having a 20-0 lead at halftime and a 28-7 lead in the third quarter. The Giants, who had started the season with 6 scoreless quarters for the first time since 1934, erupted for 31 points in the second half behind big play after big play after big play.

The Giants had three plays of 10 or more yards in the first half for a total of 34 yards. They had 14 such plays in the second half for a total of 282 yards. It started with a 58-yard bomb to Hyatt who beat Marco Wilson on the first play of the third quarter. Daniel Jones had runs of 14 yards for a touchdown, 13 yards in which he ran right by Barnes, nine yards, 15 yards and converted a 4th-and-1 for a first down on a quarterback sneak. He connected on pass plays of 58, 29, 15, 25, 14, nine yards for a touchdown, 15, 31, 11 for a touchdown and 18. The Giants quarterback beat Arizona with his arm and legs. The Cardinals are not going to like watching this tape. Typical young team that played hard for a while but fell apart late, doesn’t know how to win and couldn’t overcome adversity.

The Cardinals defense wasn’t the only unit to fall apart in the second half. The offense after the touchdown that put them up 28-7 went punt, punt, punt and end of game with the final punt being aided by back-to-back false start penalties because the Giants fans in the building got loud. I am also not sure why Jonathan Gannon did not challenge the catch by Barkley just before the two-minute warning – the ball touched the ground and that clearly would have been overturned.

Kevin Zimmerman, editor: The Arizona Cardinals are 2-for-2 in balancing as they walk the crumbling ledge from that scene in your favorite action film: they are at the same time being competitive while fulfilling their duty to crumble for Caleb.

There was offensive improvement from Week 1 in the first half, maybe even rhythm and attitude to that unit. In the second half, there were false starts because of the opposing fan crowd noise and too many defensive injuries to keep Daniel Jones — yes, Daniel Jones — from looking like he actually is worth his contract. That was a weird game, but when it comes down to it, it’s just about the Cardinals’ roster being that bad.

Vince Marotta, co-host of Bickley & Marotta: Chalk another one up for the “we just want good, entertaining games that ultimately end in a loss so the Cardinals don’t screw up their draft position” faction.

A 20-0 lead became a 31-28 loss in front of a weary State Farm Stadium crowd that, at this point, has to be sick and tired of investing Sundays watching the same result. The Cardinals are now 1-14 in their last 15 home games in Glendale. That one was a Thursday night win against New Orleans last season. The last time the Birds won a Sunday home game was in October of 2021 — a 31-5 win over Houston.

The Cardinals did nearly everything right in the first half. On the first drive, Josh Dobbs overthrew a wide-open Zach Ertz on a deep shot and had to settle for a 55-yard field goal attempt, which Matt Prater missed. The rest of the half was utter domination that took even the most ardent Cardinals supporters by surprise.

Right before halftime, I thought things started getting a little conservative offensively. On a 3rd-and-11 from the New York 24, Dobbs handed off to rookie Emari Demercado — a play that resulted in a 2-yard loss. Prater booted a field goal from 44 to make it 20-0. I know 3rd-and-longs are always hard to convert (especially with a newbie quarterback), but in real time, I thought a low-risk play to move the chains and extend the drive could’ve really sent a message — and may have allowed the Cards to go into the locker room with a 27-point lead.

The Giants must’ve gotten chewed out at halftime, because they looked completely different in the second half. Their first play of the third quarter was a 58-yard strike from Daniel Jones to Jalin Hyatt and it set the tone for the next 30 minutes. Jones scored on a beautifully carried out bootleg from 14 yards two plays later and the comeback was on.

The Cardinals defense, which played with fire and ferocity for the season’s first six quarters, let Jones get way too cozy in the second half. He completed 17-of-21 passes for 259 yards and two touchdowns (a 149.8 passer rating) in the final 30 minutes. His receivers made plays all over the field. The Giants amassed an eye-popping 358 yards of offense in the third and fourth quarters.

I know there were no expectations for the rebuilding Cardinals in 2023, but the fact is, they very easily could be 2-0. After letting two wins slip through their fingers, one has to wonder about when the next opportunity for a win may come.

Tyler Drake, Cardinals reporter and co-host of the Cardinals Corner podcast: For a half of football, things were clicking for the Cardinals. The offense looked as advertised under coordinator Drew Petzing, filled with James Conner runs and explosive plays to help stretch the field. Defensively, Arizona stacked another strong half of football on top of its solid Week 1 showing against the Commanders. Mix all that together and you have a 20-0 advantage, Cardinals.

Unfortunately for the bird gang, there was still a half of football to be played. And the product we saw get rolled out there for the final two quarters was anything but a winning formula. The classic tale-of-two-halves cliché was not only thought of throughout the press box, it was said by Gannon himself postgame, realizing just how bad his team fell off in the second half.

The Cardinals 100% let this one slip right through their fingers. And given the schedule moving forward, might not get as close as they were to a victory on Sunday.

The Cardinals saw they can operate the offense successfully, albeit in a limited showing. Now, it’s on them to do it on a consistent basis. Because if not, we’re all in for a very, very, very long season.

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