No one in their right mind believed that the Arizona Cardinals would go through the 2021 season undefeated, instead we will find out how they respond to their first loss of the season.
Dropping a nail biting finish to the Green Bay Packers on Thursday night football 24-21 is nothing to hang their heads over.
The Cardinals first taste of defeat came on a night where both teams were playing without key players in their lineups.
Most players will still make an argument that playing on Thursday night is ridiculous, and even heartless on the part of the NFL.
We saw guys get hurt all throughout the night, and of course injuries are a part of the game, but having little time for the body to recover puts guys at greater risk.
But the entertainment must go on, and complaining players and coaches will get Thursday night football like it or not.
Tonight the Arizona Cardinals faced their most challenging adversity to date this season, the mental aspect of being prepared on a short week along with the losing of the heart of their defense JJ Watt.
Coming into the game Deandre Hopkins was a game time decision, and his first catch of the night was a big one for initially a 61 yard touchdown but got called for 15 yard face mask penalty that shortened the play to 40 yards.
Hopkins was also banged up on that play, as he played in spot duty most of the night trying to fight through pain.
It appeared in the games final drive to potentially win the game, Hopkins checked himself into the game and was called off the field by the coaching staff.
Quarterback Kyler Murray got off to a slow start but came on strong in the second half and finished 22/33 274 yards and 2 Interceptions.
Not that impressive of a stat line, but to the naked eye watching, he stepped up to lead his team up and down the field the entire second half when they got their opportunity.
All night it appeared the defense just did not come to compete, as they were handed a thrashing by the Packers run game for the tune of 151 yards and a touchdown.
Tackling has been the Redbirds defense strong point so far this season, but was their downfall all night as guys tackled high and just didn’t dig in deep enough to get runners down on the ground.
All that being said, the Cardinals played as bad as the have all season on defense, and still had a chance to steal that game the last 15 seconds.
The defense took a deep breathe and came up with the only real stop of the night, a goal line stand in the final three minutes of the game to give themselves a chance to tie for overtime or win in regulation.
Head Coach Kliff Kingsbury coached like he was having an anxiety attack all night, as he moved nervously up and down the side line and really looked unsure of himself and his play calling throughout.
Murray has been taking a lot more hits of late, and Kliff’s play calling may be partly the reason why.
Playing with the teams third string center, Murray probably should not have been put in harms way with designed run plays and calls that take longer to develop.
At the end of the game he made a run that resulted in a first down, but got tackled from behind and possibly tweaked an ankle or bumped a knee on the turf.
The team has yet to disclose his current status, but it looked as if he got driven down from behind with a guy riding up his ankles.
Of course, Murray was probably more hurt on the next play, as wide receiver AJ Green had a brain fart and forgot the game situation.
Appeared to be making a run block play after the team used its final timeout to stop the clock at 14 seconds.
In that moment of the game running would put the team at a disadvantage if they were stopped, so why Green thought they were running is a mystery.
Kyler Murray was playing through the injury on the previous play, at that time he looked like it wasn’t that much of an injury.
But after that AJ Green miscommunication, Kyler’s injury all of a sudden appeared worse as he laid on the turf with his hands over his head.
Disappointing loss, but not the end of the world for a very good team that just had a bad night on defense, and one bad miscommunication on offense late that sealed their fate against the Packers.
The national media is having a ball with Aaron Rodgers praise, as they held their breathe thinking the Cardinals are about to beat the Packers after they were dominated all night.
The Thursday night crew praised and spoke about the Packers the majority of the night, and it was like they didn’t want to see the Cardinals actually win that game.
Anyway, its one loss and the Cardinals have nothing to hang their heads about, they are still in first place in the NFC West and can still take back lead on the conference next week if they beat the 49ers, and the Packers loose to the desperate Chiefs in Arrowhead.
In other words, the season is only half done and there is a lot of football left to play, so let’s not just give the NFC crown to the Packers just yet.
I believe that a loss such as this can help the Cardinals down the line, and in the playoffs where it will count for all the marbles.
The factor that is beating up many teams is the injury factor, he is still undefeated and will always raise his ugly head at the wrong time.