The Arizona Cardinals ended their great run during the 2015 season with a disappointing effort against division foe Seattle in a 36-6 loss from University of Phoenix Stadium. Here are five things we learned…
Cardinals a No Show: All week, the coaching staff and players made it a point to say that this game would be prepared for and played like any other over the course of the regular season. Not just because the possibility of a one seed could be within grasp but also because of the fact that this is Seattle they are playing. On Sunday, the Cardinals did not show up to play. Yes, the Seahawks looked like a well-oiled machine like we’ve seen from them over the last few seasons this time of year, but the Cardinals made it worse looking out of rhythm, unprepared and out of sorts.
Not to get all break glass and panic mode here, but there is something to the confidence level of a team that gets blown out by 30 points, even if they came in knowing there was not much to play for in a game. The Cardinals got that big win on Sunday night in Seattle earlier in the year but if they meet again in this postseason, this shelacking they took on Week 17 will be more fresh on everyone’s minds. You know they will say it adds fuel to the fire and make play with a chip on their shoulder. But on the inside, the mental advantage goes right back to Seattle with what we saw on the field in this game. After the game, Arians said he saw this one coming based on how the team prepared through the week.
Milestones achieved: All negatives aside, the Cardinals magical 2015 campaign came to an end with many milestone and records were obtained. The 13 wins was already a franchise best coming in. Larry Fitzgerald broke his own franchise record of 103 catches on the season by getting number 104 on the first play from scrimmage in the game. On a six yard completion from Carson Palmer to David Johnson in the first quarter, Palmer set club record for passing yards in a season. Previous was held by Neil Lomax with 4,614 in 1984. Palmer also surpassed 40,000 passing yards in his career. The Cardinals set a franchise record for total net yards in a single-season surpassing the previous mark of 6,354 also in 1984. Finally, John Brown went over 1,000 receiving yards on the season for first time in his career giving the Cards two this season with Fitzgerald. It’s the fifth time in franchise history they have had two thousand yards receivers.
Un Cat-Like: Chandler Catanzaro has very reliable for the most part since taking over as the kicker for the Cardinals. There is some cause for concern as on Sunday he missed his fifth extra point of the season. He also missed a 51 yard field goal in the first half. While the extra point being moved back effect most kickers in the NFL this season, it is important for Cardinals kicking game to be reliable. Putting points on the big board has been the team’s biggest strong suit this season and every point will count for their run through the post season.
(Almost) Injury Free: In this game, many were concerned about the health of the Cardinals getting through this game. Carson Palmer sat the entire second half along with Larry Fitzgerald. Patrick Peterson got through without an injury as well. But in the game, Cory Redding left early with an ankle injury and did not return. The defensive line already had Markus Golden out in the game and has dealt with injuries to Redding as well as to Frostee Rucker over the course of the season. Center Lyle Sendlein also came out of the game in the second half with an injury and did not return with what Arians called a bone bruise after the game. The Cardinals have a first round bye and will look to be as full strength as possible as they suit up again in the post season.
What’s Ahead? The Cardinals and their 13-3 record will have the second seed in the NFC and host the matchup in the divisional round. The rest of the NFC playoffs will shake out as a result of the final game of the season on Sunday night between the Vikings and Packers for the NFC North crown.