Rapid Reactions: Turnovers doom Arizona Cardinals in loss to Bengals

Oct 8, 2023, 5:13 PM | Updated: Oct 9, 2023, 12:06 am

(Felisa Cardenas/Arizona Sports)...

(Felisa Cardenas/Arizona Sports)

(Felisa Cardenas/Arizona Sports)

The Arizona Cardinals have now dropped two straight games after a 34-20 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals.

Arizona rallied back from an early 10-0 deficit to score 14 straight points, only for the Bengals to follow up with the same. While the Cardinals scored a touchdown to get within four points in the mid-third quarter, the Bengals pulled away.

Injuries will be a big takeaway, as starting running back James Conner (knee) and safety Jalen Thompson (hamstring) are two of Arizona’s best players and both didn’t return after leaving with injuries.

Here are Arizona Sports’ hosts and editors on the loss.

John Gambadoro, co-host of Burns & Gambo: The Cardinals were due for a stinker after being competitive in games against Washington, the New York Giants, Dallas and San Francisco.

This was it.

Arizona hung around for a while and somehow after Emari Demercado busted an outside run for a 11-yard touchdown early in the third quarter the Cardinals were down just 24-20. But Arizona ultimately could not overcome the loss of Conner, who left the game in the second quarter with a knee injury. After the Cardinals got within four points, their next few possession went like this:

— Cardinals quarterback Joshua Dobbs stopped on a 4th-and-1 when he was stopped by Germaine Pratt with 7:49 left. The Cardinals were at the Cincinnati 16 and passed on what would have been a 33-yard field goal attempt to close within 24-21 and went for the first down.

— Dobbs was sacked on a hit by Trey Hendrickson and fumbled on the first play of their next possession from the Arizona 25. Sam Hubbard recovered and the Bengals turned that into a field goal for a 34-20 lead.

— Dobbs’ pass to Zach Ertz is tipped and intercepted by Pratt with 4:53 left.

— Dobbs throws incomplete looking for Hollywood Brown on a 4th-and 10-from the Cardinals 37 results in a turnover on downs.

Dobbs has been a terrific story this year, joining the team just 10 days before the season opener and guiding the Cardinals to a win against Dallas and keeping them competitive in the three others. A big reason for his success was not turning the ball over. Today, he had two interceptions, one of which was returned for a touchdown in the first half, and lost fumble (he had not thrown an interception previously). And while one of those interceptions was a tip off of Ertz, there were several other passes of his that should have been picked off by the Bengals but weren’t.

Defensively the Cardinals defense was the perfect recipe for what had been a hobbled Joe Burrow and a frustrated Ja’Marr Chase. Burrow threw for 317 yards and 3 touchdowns and Chase had 15 catches for 192 yards and three touchdowns.

And now that the tough part of their schedule is over and Arizona went 1-4 they get the Rams, Seahawks, Ravens, Browns, Falcons, Texans, Rams again and Steelers in their next eight games. Depending on the severity of the Conner injury, if he can come back those games are all games that should be considered winnable games.

Dave Burns, co-host of Burns & Gambo: Maybe it was the way the Bengals and Burrow had struggled. Maybe it was the weirdly optimistic early returns of the Cardinals. Maybe I’m just tired of the hey-they-tried-really-hard mantra. For whatever reason, this is the first time the Cardinals have left me wanting more; there was no satisfaction on a Sunday. In some ways, that’s a victory in and of itself. I thought I’d feel this way most Sundays. Credit to the Cardinals for slightly raising the bar and making us ask more of them.

It didn’t happen today. There were moments; twice down double digits the Cardinals showed some moxie in coming back. By taking a 14-10 lead and later cutting a 10-point deficit to four they showed the level of competitiveness we’ve actually come to expect this year.

But too many turnovers. Too many breakdowns in the secondary and too much space for Chase (hey, he said he was open). At times, too much time for Burrow, who used the game to get his swagger back. Too many injuries  (Conner and Thompson). Too many empty possessions in the second half. And frankly, there is just not enough talent. This isn’t a big revelation, but, on Sunday, the deficit was highlighted with a bright yellow marker. Dobbs looked more like a true understudy and not some budding starting quarterback. A sobering reminder for all of us that much work remains.

Kellan Olson, editor: The Cardinals fought and looked like a football team with a real foundation, so that continues to be nice. But they aren’t going to win another game this season if Dobbs doesn’t get back to taking care of the ball.

Dobbs’ three giveaways are three too many, a slip in form from his great ball protection in the last couple of weeks. Given how the scouring reports are now out on Dobbs and what the Cardinals do offensively, it is something to monitor in the coming weeks. If it is just a blip, Arizona’s in a great position to win a few more games this year. If this is the start of the NFL figuring Dobbs and the Cardinals out, conversations will gain momentum on looking elsewhere under center until Kyler Murray returns.

Arizona’s defense couldn’t stop Chase, and for a group that on paper looked like it was going to be much worse than it actually has been, superstars will still carve them up. Christian McCaffery had a field day last week and Chase set a franchise record with 15 catches. The Cardinals have now given up 30-plus points in three of the last four games, so maybe we’re starting to trend back toward the defense we expected to see.

Overall, it’s starting to look bleak again, so Arizona maintaining the positive vibes it built through this stretch will be key. Keep staying competitive.

Tyler Drake, editor: It was reality check time for the Cardinals in Week 5. Burrow woke up and Chase did his thing, while the Cardinals struggled to find consistency for a full 60 minutes on both sides of the ball.

It’s going to be interesting to see how Arizona responds to this kind of adversity after seemingly taking steps in the right direction each week. This time around, there’s a ton to clean up.

And if Conner has to miss time or isn’t fully 100%, then there are even more question marks to dive into for a team that hangs its hat on running the rock behind the bell cow RB.

On the positive side, I thought Drew Petzing showed off more of his creative side on the fake reverse that Rondale Moore turned into a chunk play. I also liked what Demercado brought to the table in place of Conner. I think he did enough to take over that backup role, though JG said he would look at all the RBs in the room moving forward. For now, it’s onto L.A.

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