Bruce Arians hoodwinked us.
Outplayed in every facet of the game versus the Seahawks, Arians' players didn't seem to get the message.
Perhaps it was because the coaching staff didn't believe it themselves.
Arians admitted Monday afternoon, per Darren Urban of the team's official website, that the plan since last Monday was to pull Carson Palmer at halftime and ease other starters out of the game.
Arians' reputation as a straight shooter certainly helps.
In NFL Network's Bruce Arians: A Football Life, the peripatetic coach is quoted as saying, "I don't have to please anybody. I'm going to do whatever the hell I want now from here on out."
Arians didn't get his first NFL head coaching job until he was 60 years old. In other words, he's playing with house money.
As Arians' close friend Chuck Pagano knows all too well: "They can fire you but they can't eat you."
So what to make of Arizona's letdown in an outlier performance entering the playoffs?
The Cardinals' veteran leaders are using phrases like "it's a week-to-week league" and "more can be learned from losses than wins."
Arians suggested it was just what the doctor ordered for an over-confident team in need of a corrective measure while riding high on a nine-game winning streak.