The Bottom Line:
It 's no coincidence that the Cardinals and Santa Claus both wear red and white. The Cards gave away the football game despite outplaying the Bucs for most of the contest. Penalties. Miscommunications in the secondary. A series of questionable calls by the officials - all contributed to the Cardinal loss.
Sunday game was the "early " contest in Tampa. Scoring was a see-saw affair with TB leading 7 - 3 at the end of the 1st quarter and 17 - 13 at halftime. Game was deadlocked 20 - 20 at the end of the 3rd quarter and the Cards couldn't protect a 27 - 23 lead with 7:22 left in the 4Q.
Every time Murray or Kingsbury would pull magic out of a hat, the effort would be undermined by miscommunication,, dumb mistakes, faulty execution.
“That’s what separates the really good teams from average teams,” according to Kingsbury.
D Urban points out that "the Cards could easily argue they cost themselves 16 points at a minimum:
Cards "went for it" on a fourth-and-2, and it worked to perfection – until a wide open TE Maxx Williams lost the ball in the sun and dropped the pass.
An interception by Jordan Hicks put the Cardinals near the red zone only to have RB David Johnson fumbled the ball away after a catch.
Bucs missed a field goal – until Patrick Peterson was called for lining up offsides. (PK Matt Gay made good on his second attempt).
Yet the Cards were still in good shape, at the Tampa 15, ahead by four with less than four minutes left. But on a second down, Murray threw off his back foot, and Tampa CB Jamel Dean picked it off (Murray's first interception in 211 passing attempts).
Lots of "who did what" on those miscues, but the bottom line is that the Cards gave away an otherwise winning effort.
The TD drive that proved to be the Bucs’ game-winner covered 92 yards, including a 49-yard grab by Chris Godwin nd two pass-interference calls. The second was especially galling:
2nd down at the Arizona 13: Jalen Thompson stumbled in coverage and fell, taking out the legs of WR Mike Evans. No flag was thrown, but with the game in the final two minutes, the league decided on a booth review which resulted in a pass interference call, giving the Bucs the ball on the 1, where Barber went in a couple of plays later.
Murray still had 1:43 left on the clock to try for a tying field goal, but n othing worked (Murray was forced to scramble a couple of times and then burned up almost 40 seconds before getting a play off).
Two post-game quotes were especially revealing (1) Jalen Johnson confessing that “we just stumbled over each other a bit. I didn’t even know what route he was running or what he was doing" and Murray conceding that “We just have to have a better feel when the clock is running.”
That tells you that, at least on those two plays, the team wasn't "playing smart" (& losing the IQ battle often means the difference between winning or losing). If we're not to consistently wind up on the wrong end of these gut-wrenching nail-biters, the Cards will either need smarter players or better coaching
Lesson to be learned: "When you allow the other team to play you fairly even, the officials will invariably blow a call that costs you the game." (To restate - If you don't want the zebras to continue screwing you royally, don't squander scoring opportunities or points").
We're at mid-season now. When you have a "young team", you can kindly make excuses for rookie miscues and tactical failings. But we're midway through the regular season and there are no excuses for screwing up and throwing away wins.