After recovering a miracle onside kick in the final minute of regulation, the Arizona Cardinals had one last shot to send Monday night's game to overtime. However, panic ensued, and the Cards fell 30-23 to the L.A. Rams.
Needing a touchdown to send the game to overtime, the Cardinals went backward with holding and false start penalties against the offensive line. A quick dump-off from Kyler Murray to James Conner (which should have just been tossed into the dirt) inbounds had the clock running with under 15 seconds remaining.
Instead of just spiking the ball to set up one final heave, Murray ran a play. The issue: Most of his teammates on the field expected the spike. The offensive line left Von Miller unblocked, and receivers weren't running their routes at full speed from the snap. That left Murray a sitting duck to eventually be swallowed by Aaron Donald for the game-ending sack.
"It was miscommunication between me and the O-line," Murray said of the last play, via the team's official website. "They thought it was a spike, but it was just a heat-of-the-moment deal. I don't even remember the call, what was being said in the helmet, or anything like that."
The play was a microcosm of the Cards night: Good enough to stay in it, but not enough to overcome the self-inflicted wounds.
At 10-3, Arizona fell from first in the NFC to third with the loss and opened the door for the Rams in the NFC West. The Cards sit with a one-game lead in the division with four to play.
Arizona's miscues could either be cause for concern in the desert or a sign that there were plays to be made that could have turned a loss into a win.
Murray missed a wide-open A.J. Green on the first drive for a would-be TD. The QB threw a red-zone pick on the game's second drive when Arizona could have gone up double-digits early. He threw another INT that led directly to a TD in which the Rams needed only go 19 yards. DeAndre Hopkins had a fourth-down pass careen off his normally sure hands. Conner was stuffed on a fourth-and-1 play later in the quarter. The defense gave up big plays. And multiple penalties kept Rams drives alive.
The Cards lost a game in which they outgained the Rams 447 to 356 in total yards of offense, and had the first-down edge 22-18. It was the miscues that, much like the end of the loss to Green Bay, haunted Arizona.
"We lost, and obviously everybody wanted to win," Murray said. "It was a big game for us. But I'm not discouraged by what happened."