Red-zone struggles once again doom Cardinals in loss to Pittsburgh

Oct 18, 2015, 4:05 PM | Updated: Oct 19, 2015, 8:38 am
Pittsburgh Steelers free safety Mike Mitchell (23) intercepts a pass intended for Arizona Cardinals...
Pittsburgh Steelers free safety Mike Mitchell (23) intercepts a pass intended for Arizona Cardinals wide receiver John Brown (12) in the fourth quarter of an NFL football game, Sunday, Oct. 18, 2015 in Pittsburgh. The Steelers won 25-13. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)
(AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)

You don’t have to dig too far into a postgame stat sheet to determine how the Arizona Cardinals did on any given Sunday.

Look no further than the line that reads “Red-Zone Efficiency.”

In four victories so far this season, Bruce Arians’s team has been nearly automatic once they venture inside the the opponents’ 20-yard line. Arizona has converted an astounding 94.1 percent (16-of-17) of its red zone trips into touchdowns in easy wins over New Orleans, Chicago, San Francisco and Detroit.

Their first loss of the year — a 24-22 defeat at the hands of the St. Louis Rams in Week 4 — was defined by a 20 percent (1-of-5) conversion rate.

The Cardinals once again shot themselves in the foot in the red zone Sunday in Pittsburgh, turning only one of four opportunities into a touchdown. They also committed their first turnover in that area of the field in a crucial stretch of the fourth quarter. Not surprisingly, they left Pittsburgh with another loss — this one a 25-13 defeat to the Steelers at Heinz Field.

The last nail in the coffin for the Cardinals came with 2:20 remaining in the game and the Steelers leading 18-13. On a first down play, quarterback Carson Palmer stepped and tried to force the ball to a well-covered John Brown in the end zone. Pittsburgh safety Mike Mitchell easily intercepted the ball, killing the Arizona threat. Two plays later, Pittsburgh quarterback Landry Jones hit Martavis Bryant on an 88-yard touchdown pass that sealed the win.

“The ball should never have been there,” a frustrated Arians told Paul Calvisi in the locker room on the Cardinals’ radio broadcast.

Palmer threw for 421 yards in the game, but completed just 2-of-9 attempts for 10 yards in the red zone.

“It was supposed to be a rollout, and I think the safety moved just a little bit,” Brown said after the game. “He threw it and the safety just made a great play.”

Arizona had an 11-yard touchdown pass from Palmer to Michael Floyd nullified after an offensive pass interference call on the receiver in the second quarter. Instead, they settled for a 31-yard field goal from Chandler Catanzaro that made the score 10-3 with :47 remaining in the first half.

It wasn’t just inside the 20 where the Cardinals had their issues. In two other trips inside the Steelers’ 30-yard line, they came away with just three points.

Arizona Cardinals

Arizona Cardinals linebacker Isaiah Simmons #9 during the NFL game between the Arizona Cardinals an...
Nikash Nath

PFF’s Renner: Cardinals’ Isaiah Simmons a breakout candidate in Year 3

Cardinals' inside linebacker Isaiah Simmons was named a potential year three breakout candidate by PFF's Michael Renner.
20 hours ago
Rodney Hudson #61 of the Arizona Cardinals in the huddle during the game against the Tennessee Tita...
Wills Rice

Former Cardinals C A.Q. Shipley thinks offense needs to find identity

"For (Kyler) the next step is just grabbing everyone around him, whether he just needs one play and everyone will look to him," Shipley said.
2 days ago
General Manager Steve Keim of the Arizona Cardinals looks on prior to the game against the Baltimor...
Tyler Drake

Important NFL dates to remember and how they impact Arizona Cardinals

A look at the important league dates to circle on your calendar and how they relate to the Arizona Cardinals' roster decisions.
2 days ago
Arizona Cardinals head coach Kliff Kingsbury takes notes as he watches players taking part in drill...
Tyler Drake

Looming questions for the Arizona Cardinals ahead of training camp

There are quite a few questions marks surrounding the Arizona Cardinals ahead of training camp this offseason.
2 days ago
(Twitter photo/New England Patriots)...
Wills Rice

New England Patriots bring back red uniforms in Back to the Future spoof

The New England Patriots announced the team is bringing back their old-school red uniform and helmet combo for the 2022 season.
3 days ago
Arizona Cardinals wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins, left, talks with Cardinals offensive lineman Kelvi...
Jake Anderson

Cardinals WR DeAndre Hopkins reveals what led to PED suspension

DeAndre Hopkins on Wednesday revealed what was in his system that resulted in his six-game suspension for violating the NFL's PED policy.
4 days ago
Red-zone struggles once again doom Cardinals in loss to Pittsburgh