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Arizona Cardinals’ struggles at home could cost them NFC’s top seed – Arizona Cardinals Blog

December 14, 2021

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GLENDALE, Ariz. — The Arizona Cardinals do not play well at home, and it cost them Monday night.

The Cardinals’ home woes continued against the Los Angeles Rams in front of a national TV audience during a 30-23 loss, which dropped their record at State Farm Stadium to 3-3. More importantly, the loss caused them to fall out of first place in the NFC and into third behind the Green Bay Packers and Tampa Bay Buccaneers with four games left to play.

The Cardinals can still clinch a playoff berth next week with a win and have a shot at the No. 1 overall seed, but right now coach Kliff Kingsbury isn’t interested in homefield advantage.

“As of now I probably want to lose every game and play on the road every week, so not that important, I don’t think,” said Kingsbury when asked how much homefield means. “I mean, we just want to improve as a team and make sure if we can make it in that we’re playing our best football when we do get in.”

With a playoff berth on the line, the Cardinals were plagued by their biggest issue at home: turnovers. Arizona has committed 11 turnovers at home after Monday and just two on the road. On Monday, quarterback Kyler Murray threw two interceptions and the Cardinals’ defense didn’t take the ball away from the Rams.

The Cardinals couldn’t find an offensive rhythm. Running back James Conner was held to 31 yards and Murray didn’t throw a touchdown. He was under duress throughout, getting sacked four times, including three by Rams defensive tackle Aaron Donald.

Murray threw for 383 yards by completing 32 of 49 passes as Arizona’s offense looked out of sorts all night.

Troubling trend: Taking the ball out of Murray’s hands on fourth down. Arizona converted 2 of 4 fourth downs, but their two failures were at the hands of DeAndre Hopkins, who dropped a pass, and Conner, who was stuffed. With an MVP candidate at quarterback, Murray should have had the ball in those situations.

Biggest hole in the game plan: Not giving Hopkins more makeable plays early on to get him in a rhythm. Hopkins caught five passes for 54 yards on 12 targets, but he wasn’t targeted on Arizona’s first drive. He had three quick targets on Arizona’s second possession but went from 8:23 left in the first quarter to 4:12 left in the second quarter without a target.

The other biggest hole in the game plan: It wasn’t a surprise that Rams wide receiver Cooper Kupp was quarterback Matthew Stafford‘s favorite target Monday night, yet the Cardinals still couldn’t figure out a way to slow him down. He had 13 catches for 123 yards and a touchdown.

Bold prediction for next week: After games like this, in which Murray wasn’t part of crucial plays, coach Kliff Kingsbury tends to overcorrect and get him involved more than usual. Expect that to happen in Detroit.

QB breakdown: Murray was the Cardinals’ leading rusher with 61 yards on seven attempts — 30 more yards than Arizona’s starting running back, Conner.

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