Road loss to Bills ranks high among most disappointing losses in Arians era

Sep 25, 2016, 5:40 PM | Updated: Sep 26, 2016, 11:19 am
Arizona Cardinals head coach Bruce Arians works on the sideline during the second half of an NFL fo...

Arizona Cardinals head coach Bruce Arians works on the sideline during the second half of an NFL football game against the Buffalo Bills, Sunday, Sept. 25, 2016, in Orchard Park, N.Y. (AP Photo/Bill Wippert)

(AP Photo/Bill Wippert)

Last year’s regular season loss to the Steelers. The NFC Championship loss to the Panthers.

Move over boys, you have company. You can add this stinker against the Bills as one of the most disappointing losses in the Bruce Arians era. Perhaps the worst of the bunch.

There have been others, of course. Early on when Arians and Carson Palmer were trying to figure each other out. The losses with Drew Stanton filling in for Palmer. Last year’s finale vs. Seattle, a game in which Palmer’s finger may or may not have been hurt and the Cards may or may not have been interested in winning.

But if we’re talking about games coached by Arians and quarterbacked by Palmer, those are the three. I have this as the worst and here’s why.

They lost to a team teetering on the brink of chaos. I get it. It’s a road game and winning on the road is hard. But between firing the offensive coordinator, how he was fired, Rex Ryan’s woe-is-me tone all week and all of the injuries, this was a team that appeared to be one punch from a knockout. The topic of overlooking the opponent (as it did last year during the Steelers) will undeniably be brought up. It’s probably the reason Arians was so hard on the team this week to make certain it didn’t happen again. Only they can answer whether it did or it didn’t. The Cardinals were so thoroughly poor in every phase of the game, it was hard to tell.

If you need someone to blame, throw a rock in the air, you’ll hit someone guilty. It’s a line from an old U2 song that works for me. But if one phase is to be singled out, it’s the offense. Poor protection, especially out of Earl Watford. Palmer and his receivers were never on the same book let alone the same page. He barely completed 50 percent of his passes and was picked four times. Fantastic field position and opportunities to jump ahead early were squandered. Catches that were made last year were not made on Sunday. Not to be left out, the defense was pushed around and gashed on the ground by Tyrod Taylor and LeSean McCoy to the tune of 208 yards. Special teams? Needless to say, I think we can all expect a transaction or two in the coming days.

Blame the Honey Badger? But we love the Honey Badger! We do. The intentions of Tyrann Mathieu were there. He makes a great play to knock the ball out of Taylor’s hand and instead of falling on the ball he tries to pick it up not once but twice to make a play. The Cards were down 30-16 at the time and that could’ve swung this thing. Instead, the ball goes out of bounds, Buffalo retains possession and we’re all left to wonder what if. If he falls on the ball, who knows what happens. I would’ve liked to have found out.

The good news, misery loves company. The Panthers lost again (a slow clap for the Vikings). The Seahawks rolled but Russell Wilson’s knee injury looked nasty. The Steelers, thought to be one of the top two teams in the football, got destroyed. Point is, bad stuff happens to good teams. But a Cardinals team that lost three regular season games last year is already two-thirds of the way there. A 1-2 start that nobody saw coming is hardly a dream killer, but it’s clear there is much work to be done.

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Road loss to Bills ranks high among most disappointing losses in Arians era