By: Rich Gray
The Arizona Cardinals starters had a night to forget at University of Phoenix Stadium on Sunday.
After scoring touchdown on their opening drives in the first two games of the preseason, the first-team offense settled for field goals in a 19-13 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday Night Football.
The Cardinals had an off night in the first half, missing wide open receivers, failing to convert on third down and in the red zone and a miscommunication between Carson Palmer and Larry Fitzgerald that resulted in an easy pick-six by Bengals cornerback Terence Newman
“We missed wide open guys down field for touchdowns, which we’ve been hitting,” Bruce Arians said.
Palmer finished the night 9-for-17 for 92 yards and the interceptions.
“It’s unfortunate,” Palmer said. “We wanted to play better. We’ll take a look at it and move on. It won’t shake our confidence.”
The offensive line, which has patched things together so far this preseason, performed well on Sunday. The Cardinals were able to run the ball effectively, with Andre Ellington rushing for 46 yards on nine carries. The pass protection was also there, allowing Palmer time in the pocket and keeping him upright most of the evening. Which makes the missed opportunities more frustrating.
“It’s easy to press in those situations,” said Palmer. “You want a touchdown, you want to go down the field and score. There are some things that happened that didn’t look good and I’m glad, because we’ll iron them out.”
Defensively, the Cardinals had trouble getting off the field. The Bengals were pinned inside the two five times during the first half and twice Cincinnati was able to march down the field and put up points.
“It wasn’t our best game,” Calais Campbell said. “Any time you have a team backed up, you want to give your offense good field position. We didn’t do that.”
With a short-week against the team the Cardinals will open the season with–the San Diego Chargers–the Redbirds have more questions than answers before kicking off on Monday Night Football.
Was tonight just an off night for Palmer and the offense? Will the defense be able to generate pressure without blitzing? Can the offense afford to play like this during the regular season with the hits the defense took this year?
All of these will be answered soon, but Campbell and the Cardinals understand tonight for what it is.
“Dress rehearshal. Come September 8th, this game is just a memory.”
Still, it would have been nice to look back fondly on night where the Cardinals have plenty of opportunities to get the result they desired.