NFC Championship aftermath

Posted by Darren Urban on January 24, 2016 – 11:18 pm

Larry Fitzgerald fought back tears.

The wide receiver has now played 12 NFL seasons. He doesn’t know exactly how many he has left – he has one year remaining on his contract – and at age 32, the end is much closer than the beginning. He also knows the NFL reality that coming as close as the Cardinals did to the Super Bowl, with the best team he’s ever been on, doesn’t necessarily happen more than once.

That’s why the pain was apparent on his face after Sunday night’s blowout loss in Carolina, a game that, frankly, the Cardinals never really were in. If the Cards had lost in a shootout, or a close game, Fitzgerald said, perhaps he could have dealt with it better, knowing the Cardinals at least made it a battle.

Instead, “we just didn’t have it today,” Fitzgerald said quietly. “And that really stings.”

Things will change. They always do in the offseason. Free agents will leave. New players will be signed and drafted. You hope that comes together. You hope that you can stay relatively injury-free, which the Cards – for the most part – were able to do this season. You hope that as a team you can build again, as the Cardinals have in each Arians’ season. Win totals have gone up and the postseason ladder has been climbed one rung at a time.

You hope. But as Fitz’s emotions explained, nothing is promised.

“The emotions are still so raw for me. So raw,” Fitzgerald said, when asked to assess 2015 as a whole. “In a couple days I might be able to have a little bit better answer for you. It really hurts.”

“Obviously,” Fitzgerald added, “I didn’t want it to end this way.”

— Carson Palmer stood up and answered the painful questions after the game. He took responsibility. He said “I” often and while there was plenty of things weren’t great on the rest of the team – the defense did not have its best game either – Palmer had to play well for the Cardinals to make the Super Bowl. He did not play well. He did not come close.

— While the Cardinals and Keim will continue to look for their quarterback of the future, Palmer is going to be the quarterback in 2016. He should be. He did not play well in the postseason but he was a deserving MVP candidate this year.

— Running back David Johnson was excellent, but it’s too bad the Cards got so far behind. He has definitely shown his future as the lead running back.

— The secondary as a whole was not good. Some of that was because of a lack of pressure on Cam Newton, but there were other mistakes. Justin Bethel was not the only player to get caught, but even Bruce Arians noted Bethel by name as someone who had a tough night. Arians added Bethel will get better. The Cardinals need him to.

— Among the free-agents-to-be are cornerback Jerraud Powers and safety Rashad Johnson. Both emphasized how much they want to return. But we will see how that plays out. I expect the Cardinals to try and get a Tyrann Mathieu extension done at some point, and I also wouldn’t be surprised to see a cornerback taken in the draft.

— The Cardinals will pick 29th in the NFL draft. There will be only 31 first-round selections after the Patriots surrendered theirs during Deflategate.

— There are a lot of other things to talk about heading into the offseason. But with the Cardinals done, there is time to get to all of that.


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60 Responses to “NFC Championship aftermath”

  1. By Ottis Andeson Fan on Jan 24, 2016 | Reply

    The Cards were thoroughly beaten by a clearly superior football team. A lot of holes For Keim to fill to be competitive with Carolina and Seattle — holes that will probably take more than a single season to fill. 2015 was a great draft for Keim, but I don’t think this team can afford the luxury of drafting a project with their #1 pick in 2016 and have him be inactive for the entire season like Humphries was this year. — the talent on Seattle and Carolina is just to great and the window too short to have that happen again.

    Hard to imagine Palmer going another season like this without any serious injuries and hard to watch a much younger QB in Newton be so much more confident and relaxed than a vet like Palmer in the big games that matter most.

  2. By Andres on Jan 25, 2016 | Reply

    Dear Ottis Andeson Fan,

    I don’t really see how we are several years behind a team that we beat this season in Seattle and while yes the Panthers were certainly the better team this year I think we can bridge that gap in this offseason. What I really don’t understand about your post is why you assume Palmer can’t go for a while season. Just so you understand the reason that Cam Newton looked so comfortable was because his team was playing with a large lead (had the game been closer I doubt we would have seen such a composed Cam). Also the reason Palmer looked so much more comfortable and to be honest bad can be attributed to the fact that the we were down the whole game and he felt a need to try to make up for the deficit quickly (think the intersection right before half). Yes this is a huge problem, but I feel like if we had kept it closer early he wouldn’t have had to try and force the football as much as he did. I’m not trying to say Carson didn’t play poorly because he did play poorly in just trying to provide a less negative point of view and also a less knee jerk reaction to a bad game.

  3. By Steve on Jan 25, 2016 | Reply

    This was a tough game to watch, Carson’s struggles carried over from the Packers game and our defense simply seemed over matched and lacked intensity. I am proud of this team but it seemed like they all (except David Johnson) got caught up in the pressure and spotlight of this game and just shriveled. Still we won 14 games and despite this loss, I still feel this was a terrific season and one to be proud of. I’m just an armchair GM but going forward I see the interior O-line, RG and C, needing an upgrade and defensively the priority remains finding better pass rushers and CB help. I still believe in #3 and hope he stays our signal caller for as long as possible. Thank you Cardinals and thank you Darren for a great season!

  4. By jerrytown on Jan 25, 2016 | Reply

    I’m tired of reading garbage on Facebook of people saying Carson needs to retire or we need to find a new qb. Are you kidding me? He had the best season of any Cards qb in history. We would have been watching that game from home if it wasn’t for him.

    We played terrible. It’s not all on Carson though. I hope he knows that he is beloved in AZ, and he doesn’t get bombarded with ignorant crap from fair weather fans. It’s hard to win in the NFL and everyone is a critic, but good QB’s are hard to find….there are maybe 10 in the league and Carson is one of them. We’ll be back next year with him at the helm to make some noise.

    I’ll be wearing my Cards gear with pride tomorrow. Keep your heads up Cards fans. We’ve come a long way from perennial losers to expecting greatness. With Keim and Arians in charge, we’ll have plenty of good seasons to come. Bird Gang for life.

  5. By Perry matherne on Jan 25, 2016 | Reply

    Hey Darren,what a way to have a season like we did,& then fizzle out when it mattered most.Why didn’t the coaches use EVERY WEAPON on offense,poor play calling.

  6. By NJAzCardsFan on Jan 25, 2016 | Reply

    What are you afraid of…. Quicksand….
    You are playing and things don’t go well at first, and then you try harder and harder and you sink deeper and deeper, then you realize you are in over your head…. Like you are in Quicksand- By Shane Falco- from the movie “The Replacements”…..

    The above can best describe the Cards whole effort tonight….. For such a great season to end like this is humiliating……

    This was a beat down of epic proportions…… 7 TURNOVERS??????????????

    I don’t think I can watch another NFL game until August….. I may even go out and burn my Cardinal hat…. Yea, it was that bad….

  7. By JD on Jan 25, 2016 | Reply

    Humphries wasn’t supposed to be a project pick and I couldn’t help but think it was too bad he didn’t play the way he was expected to this season cause they needed much better line play tonight. It hurt to lose a pass rusher in Okafor this week and the team didn’t play the same since the Packers blowout. I think Matheiu’s presence was sorely missed in both ability and depth.

    I still don’t think Carolina is that much better, if at all, but for whatever reason the Cardinals really faded at the end of the season. If they played a month ago, I think the Cardinals win, but sometimes teams peak too early. Did they not care about the Seattle game and then that beating affected their mojo? Did some players just wear down? Was Carson’s finger affecting his throws? I don’t know, but Carson didn’t look like himself ever since that game. Starting with the Seattle game all of a sudden we couldn’t pressure the opposing QB and we couldn’t protect our own or open run lanes. Veldheer didn’t look good the last few games, or at least had more glaring breakdowns than earlier in the season.

    Tonight, nearly everyone either played poorly or had a crucial mistake from Carson missing easy throws early on and forcing bad ones later to PP’s punt return disaster when he was in position to break one to Larry dropping a couple of passes to coverage breakdowns to almost no pressure on Cam to lots of breakdowns in pass protection. It was a mess. Carolina has trouble getting edge pressure and was missing Allen and still had pressure from the edge all night. Meanwhile, Cam barely got dirty or sweaty.

    I’m just glad that Manning knocked the Pats out. I wouldn’t mind seeing him win one more and go out on top. If the Cards aren’t going to be in it, I don’t mind the Panthers going. At least it’s not Seattle. I like that they give game balls to kids, I’ve always felt Cam has been given a bad rap, talent wise anyway, and it’s a team that hasn’t been there before. I just hate the dab and think it’s the dumbest celebration ever. I’ve been hoping to see them get beat down and lose that moronic move.

    And I like Rivera, but going for two when up 25 with about 6 minutes left? That was classless. No way the Cards could score 3 TDs with 2pt plays and kick a FG with the Panthers scoring no more points.

  8. By silverbackdk on Jan 25, 2016 | Reply

    Bad game. The Best players really stood out – Palmer the obvious, but Larry dropped passes and seemed flat, pp got beat and fumbled, Calais you only noticed for the flags.

    But when all is said and done I think cards had a great season and there I reason to be proud.

    For the future I think there is one obvious thing to look – how do you stop Russell Wilson and Newton – I the LB position needs to be strengthened with a sideline to sideline superstar. Number 1 need. And sorry I might be old fashioned, but I really hate the read option so finding someone who can beat the crap out those two arrogant would be great on so many levels.

    One last thing – I love Arians aggressiveness and style, but he really has to consider risk and reward som times.

  9. By Sammy on Jan 25, 2016 | Reply

    Carson Palmer played like John Skelton on a bad day, actually Skelton when he was clutch would have played better. Allot of bad reads and timing.

  10. By Lee W. Flanagan on Jan 25, 2016 | Reply

    Wow, what a tough game to watch for someone like me who is so passionate about my team. Hats off, shirts off, and pants off to that Carolina team. I watched every game this year. They played well all season. They had a relatively easy schedule this season but squeezed out victories game by game. That team got better and better and peaked at the perfect time of the year. The next game,I promise you, will be the toughest game for them yet this season. That Denver defense will show exactly where Cam is as a QB. Should be a great Super Bowl.
    Putting things into my prospective, I kind of seen this coming although I still knew that this was still a winnable game for the Cardinals. The depleted linebacking position really exposed the middle of the field all year long. The loss of Mathias started to expose the weakness and then when Okefor when down, I think it broke the backs of the Cardinals. I’m sure BA and Keim will be at to work tomorrow to address the situation.
    What really gets to me though is what has happened to the Cardinals receiving crew. I’ve never seen this crew drop so many passes, tipped or not. I noticed John Brown not elevating other the balls as the season went on. I believe he got his bell rung and he is playing scared. Carson’s finger is obviously affecting his throws. He didn’t throw poorly until he jammed his finger. I just wish Carson would admit it.
    Hats off to David Johnson. I think he really played his tail off. Wish Darren Fells would be utilized in the passing game more often next year. The Cardinals have one heck of a team and I’m excited about next year already.
    Darren- Have you noticed the same about John Brown’s play? Doesn’t ever get brought up in conversations.

  11. By Lyn on Jan 25, 2016 | Reply

    This Panthers team will dominate for a number of years with Seattle the heir apparent. Teams will need to rethink their styles if they want to compete.
    A pocket-passer QB will not work unless the O Line is invincible.
    Going to need to build for the long term to make it work – not sure 35 year old free-agency will get you there. We have talent but too many are not elite. I completely endorse BA’s emphasis of ‘culture first’ – need to find those right guys.

  12. By liquidchaoss on Jan 25, 2016 | Reply

    For a 13-3 team that won their division, last night showed they still have so many holes. They need to get rid of Bethel, hands down that guy is horrible. He never got better, there is a reason Aaron Rodgers targeted this guy both teams this year. They need to find a solid CB opposite of PP. Dunno what Honey Badger is going to do going forward, he tore his ACL non contact, second time?

    Also they need a legit MLB and put Bucannon back at safety. They need a legit pass rusher, not a guy who is in his twilight years. Offensively Cooper has been a disappointment, when a journey man like Larson takes your spot, there is something wrong. Also Arians going cheap on the center position in the off season cost this team big time. AQ Shipley was just bad, Sendelein not that much better… Could of gotten Wisniewski who ended up signing a 1 year deal with the Jags.

    It was so hard to see Larry in his post interview, he seems like the only player that gets it. This year was special, no guarantee it will carry over next season, this might have been the franchises last best chance for a LOONNNGG time.

  13. By Cardinal's Chick on Jan 25, 2016 | Reply

    I have no words to express my disappointment, so I cannot imagine how hurt the players are. It seems like losing Tyrann took some of the wind out of their sails. I’m really sorry their season ended like that.

    Still love my Cardinal’s tho.

  14. By David Chaeney on Jan 25, 2016 | Reply

    Obviously losing a game as badly as we did is very disappointing when we all know what a great season it was. I’m not going to say anything about the negatives because they are not worth thinking about. Rather I want to take my hat off to the positives of this season. The front office, coaching staff, players and fans all showed the rest of the NFL what a great team we have and the future looks bright. Thanks to everyone involved for making this one of the best times I’ve had as a Cardinal fan, if not the very best.

  15. By faster on Jan 25, 2016 | Reply

    first, let me thank the players, the coaches and the management (included the writers) for a exciting season. it wasn`t the dream finish, but hey, next year up.

    and now my three wishes for the next season:
    1. add some good running back, look at the season, when chris johnson was healthy, and look at the last games. cj2k, foster or lynch cames to my mind.
    2. make it mandatory for arians, when a game is lead by 14 or more points to play some backups (yes, its a reference at palmers non injured finger and mathieus injury at the absolutely meaningless dummy bowl against the eagles). the team has one of the best backup QBs in stanton, also some young players like williams or brown, who should play more.
    3. add a health managment for coaches, lol, i would like it, if arians could be the headcoach for some years to follow, but he should loose some pounds, to stay as healthy as possible.

    and now i will forget the NFL until march, again, thanks all involved for a exciting season.

    ps: 15 to 49, last year it was 16 to 27, maybe some of us owe ryan lindley an apology?

  16. By faster on Jan 25, 2016 | Reply

    PPS: and stop whining, the core of this team in my opinion is so good, they should reach the playoffs next year without problems (yes, even with the NFL promoting the LA rams). so they will have the possibility again. hopefully this time at home, looks like charlotte is jinxed.

  17. By John Ortiz So Cal on Jan 25, 2016 | Reply

    The Cardinals suck.

  18. By texascard on Jan 25, 2016 | Reply

    Need a qb and fast. Palmer thanks for the memories. Too much talent to accept that as a successful season

  19. By Marlin on Jan 25, 2016 | Reply

    Its not so much the loss. Its the way we lost. When an entire team, collectively, is that unprepared for the game…..the head coach needs to do some soul searching as well. It was a great season. But hard to imagine a more difficult ending.

  20. By BeatSF on Jan 25, 2016 | Reply

    1st year – 10 wins, no playoffs
    2nd year – 10 wins, lost 1st round
    3rd year – 13 wins, 1st round win, lost 2nd round
    4th year the progression continues and we reach the SB! That’s what our mind set should be.

  21. By Scott H on Jan 25, 2016 | Reply

    Darren –

    Can I put you on the spot here? Seems like everyone is saying that Palmer’s finger wasn’t a problem. But do you really believe that??? Because if the finger was NOT a problem, then what is the alternative? From the point of the finger injury until the clock showed triple zero’s last night, he has played anywhere from erratic to flat-out HORRIBLE.

    Sorry, but if the finger wasn’t a problem…..then what was? WHAT explains how bad he played over the last month or so?

    This morning, I am feeling like I wish someone would tell us that the finger WAS the problem. Because, then I could believe that with a chance to heal properly over the off-season, Palmer will be raring to go come training camp. But unfortunately, the finger does not explain some of the horrendous decisions he has been making. That is NOT simply going to go away with a few months to rest and heal.

    A team that had the 2nd ranked offense in the NFL was out-scored 101-47 in its last three games. That should be drawing EVERYONE’S attention this morning, regardless of whether you want to feel proud of the season they had ( and I am ) or whether you are on the furthest reaches of total outrage right now. There need to be answers that explain that kind of collapse. Because the team we WERE seeing for 16 weeks just completely disappeared after that win against the Packers. They were gone. We need to know how that could possibly happen.

  22. By Darren Urban on Jan 25, 2016 | Reply

    Scott H —

    RE: Finger

    I have not talked to one person on the inside who has said, publicly or privately, the finger was the problem.

  23. By Eric G on Jan 25, 2016 | Reply

    Pathetic end to the season. Showed that we need real LBs out there and not safeties playing the role. We also need a legit pass rusher too that can put pressure on a QB. Carson proved that he is choke city come playoff time. Poor decisions both weeks. No fight, no heart for this team.

  24. By Jon on Jan 25, 2016 | Reply

    I think what is getting lost in much of the analysis I’ve seen is that Carson Palmer is as close to a rookie in the postseason as a player comes. Basically one game before this season. He needs time to adjust to that pressure. This year was a learning experience for him and this team.

    It was a great season, looking forward to the next one!

  25. By bob yeager on Jan 25, 2016 | Reply

    Ted Ginn will get a ring and Larry Fitzgerald will not. I am trying to rationalize that one.

  26. By Denny Phelps on Jan 25, 2016 | Reply

    I have been a Cardinals fan since 1991.
    I hail from New England, but I inhereted the Cardinals,
    and attended many games at Sun Devil. I voted to build
    a new stadium. I rub Pat Tillmans statue every time I see it.
    It seems that every few years there is a ray of hope, that gets put out rather harshly. I would rather have seen that performance in round one of the playoffs. It was painful to watch, and very maddening. The Cardinals didn’t lose, or get beat, they were humiliated. I think of all the fans out there buying hundred dollar jerseys, going to a local eatery to watch, companies that have Cardinal logos to promote their goods.
    The simple fact is the players were paid for that performance, and the hopes of an entire state thrown in with it.
    To turn in that kind of performance (or the complete lack of) says thanks for your support, our stadium, and our paychecks, see you next year. If it were lack of starters, injuries, or any reason to get humiliated like that, I would be angry with the Panthers right now. The Cardinals were the best the NFC had to offer. I would have treated the Cardinals the same way….like what are you doing here?, there is a professional football game going on now. I feel like that was the worst loss in the entire 2015 post season, and from the best division in the league.
    Its a long off season, there’s not going to be much demand for player appearances, and I think the entire organization owes Arizona an apology for the embarrassment.

  27. By Steve W on Jan 25, 2016 | Reply

    Been reading a lot of articles and comments blaming Palmer for the loss, including Carson’s own words. But last night’s game was, unfortunately, a total team loss. Bruce was out-coached and the defense could do absolutely nothing to stop Cam Newton. A lot of these same comments and articles seem to belittle the Card’s effort this year, calling them a ‘failure’ (and I’m pointing at Josh Weinfuss, the truly awful beat writer at ESPN) either individually or as a whole.

    But lets snap back to reality here, Cards fans. We played the best team in the NFL last night and yes, we got our butts handed to us. The Cards played an awful game, with a few glimmers of brightness here and there (mostly in the efforts of David Johnson.) Seattle got creamed by the Panthers just last week in the first half – a lot worse than the Cards did, as a matter of fact. But last week, Carolina let off the gas and they did not against Arizona – the mark of a truly great team that learned from its mistake.

    I’m looking forward to watching the off season and seeing what Keim does to fill the holes that have been exposed this season through trades and the draft. Arizona has become a desired destination for many free agents over the past several seasons, and rightfully so. Even great teams have bad games, and though it sucks to watch it happen in an NFC Championship game, that is what we saw.

    Thank you Cards for a great season, and I fully expect to see our key players (yes, including Carson Palmer and a healthy Honey Badger!) to give us another great season next year as well. I’ve been a fan since the Cards moved to AZ when I was a senior in high school and have remained a true fan through all the years since, even after moving to Texas and now Virginia. I’ll remain a fan through good seasons and bad – though I prefer to keep the bad seasons to an absolute minimum!

    It hurts now for sure, but hold your heads high Cards players and coaches. You had an epic season to be proud of. Thanks for taking us on the ride!

    Steve W.

  28. By James on Jan 25, 2016 | Reply

    The panthers are clearly a fantastic team who tend to rack up big scores early in the game, but you wonder if there could have been a little wobble from them if we had just cut-out a few of those turnovers.. Particularly, converting from Peterson’s interception & long run upfield could have made things interesting… Sadly, we didn’t even get ourselves within touching distance to see how Cam would have reacted in the late game.

    I still love this team though. I just feel great frustration that they didn’t show everyone what they’re capable of in these playoffs.

  29. By Jean Dudeck on Jan 25, 2016 | Reply

    Despite the loss — congratulations to the Cardinals team! While only one team could have won the championship, I know they tried hard….

    Remember, they set all new franchise records, some new NFL records and we had superior performances in 13 games this year. After being a ticket holder for years, I congratulate the management for all of the great times and the wonderful home games they gave us this year.
    It was fun watching them ascend to one of the best in the league.

    Please don’t stop now. As with all sport, we’ll get them next year.
    Jean and Mike

  30. By Kevin S Mesa on Jan 25, 2016 | Reply

    I am amazed at the number of Cardinal “fans” who want to have Carson Palmer’s head served on a platter.

    He picked a bad time to have a bad game, no doubt. But let’s face facts — even if he had played well, we probably lose this game, given that no one else showed up either.

    Look, Palmer deserves to be criticized for his play in this game. Throwing interceptions on first down in the opponent’s territory to double-covered receivers — those were poor decisions. But having a terrible playoff game is better IMO than having terrible games week in and week out and ending up 5-11, which is where we were pre-Palmer. And the final stat line is more cruel to Palmer than it needed to be; down 42-15 already, the game was over, and he added two more picks after that. Without the two meaningless INT’s, it’s just a poor stat line, not the kind where people are saying “worst playoff performance ever” (and, by the way, it’s not even close to that — heck, there was a worse playoff performance just a couple weeks ago by Hoyer, and of course we intercepted Delhomme 5 times just a few years ago. Brett Favre was once intercepted 6 times in a playoff game. It happens).

    I don’t buy the whole “he can’t win a playoff game.” He was essentially 0-1 with the Bengals — you can’t really count a game where he was hurt on the very first play of the game. And he’s 1-1 with us. A sample size of three games, and he’s 1-2. Proves absolutely nothing.

    If all you bandwagon fans who don’t know what it’s like to support a franchise that rarely even makes the playoffs want to bail on the team and its QB after a historic season, that’s fine with me — I’d prefer never to hear from you again. This team has now won more games its last two years than we ever won with Kurt Warner, a guy whose name is revered by Cardinals fans, but some “fans” are ready to throw the QB out with the trash.

  31. By SCarolinaCard on Jan 25, 2016 | Reply

    I feel like the game ended when Peterson blew the punt. The Cardinals had scored on an impressive drive, followed by a quick stop by the defense. At that point it was 17-7. I felt like they were starting to get some wind in their sails. Had PP left the punt alone they would have had great field position. Seems he made a last second decision to try and field the punt, and we see how that turned out. He’s a great player, but not much on punt returns, since his rookie season anyway. Great season Cards! Maybe next time.

  32. By Infitzwetrust on Jan 25, 2016 | Reply

    Despite all the back and forth and up and down comments, every year — and literally, every year — only one team makes it to the finish line. Come monday morning after the Super Bowl, there will be 31 teams not dubbed world champions.

    A lot of comments about attacking palmers jugular, but didn’t the great Tom Brady loose as well? And of course, no one is really attacking him. The comparison might be a little more apple and oranges then apples and apples ( or oranges and oranges )considering the score and how many turnovers Carson commited, but it would be ignorant to deny or not notice that the great Tom brady, who is a multiple MVP and has light years of more playoff experience then Carson, who ends up on the same loosing side, without the same backlash Carson is getting from fans and sport writers and all in between.

    And Brady’s numbers weren’t all that hot either.

  33. By rod on Jan 25, 2016 | Reply

    Off season needs

    1) More O line
    2) More D line
    3) New O line coach
    4) New special teams coach

  34. By Scott H on Jan 25, 2016 | Reply

    Steve W

    Do you really think it is that simple? That the Panthers were “creaming” the Seahawks just as bad as they did us last night in the first half, but the Panthers laid off the gas in the 2nd half against the Seahawks? That against us, they did not?

    Hey, I can’t tell you that you’re wrong. You are entitled to any opinion you want to have. But I think if you DO believe that….you just aren’t seeing the game that actually happened last night. Not that I blame you. I wish I hadn’t seen it, either.

    But if you want to know the REAL difference between last night and last week’s game against the Seahawks, just look at the QB’s, first and foremost. Wilson got off to a really bad start, too, but then he got his act together. And he led his team back in the 2nd half. Palmer started bad, and he just continued to get worse.

    Then, look at the pass rush. The Seahawks showed some ability to pressure Cam Newton. We had ZERO pass rush last night.

    Really, I think you are kidding yourself. The Seahawks showed the ability to fight back and make a game of it and it started with their QB being able to make plays. Our QB was awful and he took the offense down with him. Period. L mean, how are we supposed to stick with the run game when the score is 34-7???

    Wilson had a few turnovers early on, then he shook it off and started to play. Palmer accounted for 6 ( SIX!!!!! ) turnovers. And they were all on him. THAT is where I see the difference between how the games Carolina played against Seattle and us went in the 2nd half.

  35. By Scott H on Jan 25, 2016 | Reply

    Darren –

    OK. I know what everyone is saying. I am asking what YOU think based on what you have seen since the point of the injury.

  36. By Darren Urban on Jan 25, 2016 | Reply

    Scott H —

    RE: Finger

    I have seen him only miss one play because of it. And if it was bothering him that much, I think it would’ve been more of a problem than it was.

    He looked fine after the injury in Philly. And against Green Bay the first time.

    Protection issues/better defenses/straight poor play is what I saw. I have to take Carson at his word that it wasn’t an issue. Why would he subject himself to this avalanche of criticism otherwise?

  37. By Kevin S Mesa on Jan 25, 2016 | Reply

    Scott H —

    Come on, man. Palmer played badly, but 6 turnovers were not “all on him.” How is a QB supposed to know that he’s about to get hit from the blindside and the ball knocked out of his hand? Also, his first turnover — the fumble where he had the ball pinned (sort of) to his head — was on a 3rd and 10 play from the Panther 37. Even if he hadn’t fumbled, we likely would just have punted anyway, so it wasn’t really damaging. And that one is as much on the O-line, and on our receivers for not getting open, as Palmer.

    2nd half, Carolina started with the ball and took over 7 minutes off the clock while scoring more points. We then went 3 and out — Palmer and Fitz didn’t connect on 3rd and 2 (can’t remember if that was a bad pass or one of Fitz’s drops), and then the D allowed Carolina to drive 79 yards for another TD — including 2 consecutive runs by Newton for over 10 yards, the first of which was on a 3rd and 10.

    He had one — ONE — terrible interception while it was still a game, the one right after Peterson’s INT at the end of the second half. The other 3 were pretty close to meaningless. We were down 34-15 with under 12 minutes to go in the 4th when he threw the second one. Was it a bad decision? Sure, he just heaved it up there. I think, though, that that was the play where the defender got his hand on the ball as Palmer was throwing, which may have affected the throw, and in any case, how much can you fault him for trying to make a play down 3 scores in the 4th? The last 2 INT’s were completely meaningless garbage-time INT’s. I don’t even count those.

    Tom Brady had a similar game, throwing 2 INT’s (while it mattered), including a terrible one deep in their own territory, and completing less than 50% of his passes while facing a tough defense. The difference is, the Pats’ defense was good enough (or the Broncos’ offense was bad enough) to keep them in the game despite Brady having a bad day, and Brady wasn’t forced to just start heaving balls up against a tough defense.

    And there IS something to be said for the fact that the Panthers did not let up as they did against Seattle. They continued to throw the ball against us, something they basically stopped doing against Seattle. Look, as bad as Palmer was, we were down 34-7 and at that point he had only thrown one pick. Palmer is not the one who allowed Carolina to score the first 3 times they touched the ball, nor is he the one who fumbled a punt return at the one point in the game where it looked like the Cards were showing some life, or who allowed the Panthers to score another TD off that fumbled punt.

    To your point, how are you supposed to stick with the run game when it’s 34-7? And when the other team knows you have no choice but to pass, and can drop 7 guys back into coverage and still get pressure, it’s hard to throw on them.

  38. By Steve W on Jan 25, 2016 | Reply

    Scott H –

    Of course it’s not that simple, and I wasn’t even remotely trying to compare the two games in terms of how they played out. My point was that Carolina is a very talented team and manhandled the Seahawks easily last week, for the first half at any rate. My personal opinion is that yes, the Panthers did let up a bit and allowed Seattle to fight their way back. Everyone who watches the NFC every week knows that Seattle has a great team and they are capable of doing just that. The Cardinals are capable too, but it didn’t play out that way last night. Our glaring inability to pressure Cam Newton was one really big factor, and our O-line’s failure to protect Palmer was yet another aspect. Our QB made mistakes, our secondary didn’t play well. It was a total team letdown. A bad game that came at the worst possible time for our team but we know they can play much, much better than that. The players and coaches know it too, and if it stings for fans I can’t imagine how much it hurts the players to lose a game like that.

    I’m basically just very irritated at how many so-called fans are handling themselves after this loss. I’m sure as hell glad that the team isn’t sharing in such stupid antics as pointing fingers at individuals like some ‘fans’ seem so keen on doing.

    Steve W

  39. By Scott H on Jan 25, 2016 | Reply

    Kevin –

    RE: Palmer / Warner

    You know I respect your opinions as a true fan. Sometimes we agree, sometimes we do not. But let me ask you this ( and understand, as much as I was disgusted with Palmer’s performance last night, I am not bailing on him and I DO recognize how much he has to do with our success since he arrived ) –

    Which is better – 13-3 in the regular season, our best win /loss record ever, the best season ever by a Cards QB and an outcome like last night in an NFC title game OR 9-7 in the regular season, 3 straight wins in the playoffs, an NFC title celebration, and playing the hell out of the Steelers in a SB?

    When ya come right down to it, Palmer gave us one, Warner gave us the other.

    Palmer gave us better regular season stats. Warner gave us greater heights of success. That is why Warner is rightfully more “revered” at this point in time that Palmer is.

  40. By 11zfan on Jan 25, 2016 | Reply

    Hey Darren –

    I know there is a lot of talk about Carson’s finger and if it was part of the issue and I know both he and coach said it wasn’t an issue. But now, he is not playing in the Pro Bowl because of his finger! It really doesn’t matter now, but if it was an issue all this time, why not just say it??

  41. By Darren Urban on Jan 25, 2016 | Reply

    11zfan —

    RE: Finger

    Good question. Then again, if he doesn’t want to go to the Pro Bowl, the finger really is the only thing he can say to skip.

  42. By Dr. G. on Jan 25, 2016 | Reply

    Darren- – Is it really your thought that the “”pain on Fitz’s face, and fighting back tears”” was caused by his inner personal feelings that he has limited chances remaining?

    Did you consider taking him literally…like: “”It really stings, we could have at least a battle.”” He and his team has never been embarrassed and humiliated like this.

    I do not think he was “”all-in for himself”” last night. That could be someone else on the team. Fitz is the face of the franchise because he is proud, but humble…((and a good negotiator, for those who do not like his contract))

    P.S. I know you are in his corner, huh? ….a good week to you…

  43. By clssylssy on Jan 25, 2016 | Reply

    Well, it seems that Carson is not going to play in the Probowl because of his finger! I do think he has been playing hurt since about week 16, when he began being visibly “different”. BA talked about his sore lays and possibly he was playing through more pain than we realized and that kind of unrelenting pain can certainly cause fatigue and even depression. Nonetheless, he was ranked in the top 5 NFL QBs all season! We need to remember that Cam is ten years younger than Carson and was in perfect physical condition at 6’5 and 250 lbs!
    It’s a sad and disappointing end to an amazing season but we have been on a steadily improving path for the last three years!
    I really thought, like last year, our defense just wasn’t enough to allow us to get back in the game and I found myself being thankful the clock ran down before Derek Anderson could score on us. They had three of our former players, who were probably providing Intel, like Matt Barkley did for the Eagles. The Panthers,like the Seahawks are beatable and next time we’ll prepare accordingly!
    It was a wild and thrilling ride and we will be stronger next season!

  44. By Chuck 1 on Jan 25, 2016 | Reply

    I agree with your comment about Rivera’s classless call of going for two points with a 25 point lead and only about six minutes to go.
    I was surprised that he didn’t go for two after the next touchdown. Possibly the only reason is that it would have given the Panthers 50 points and he probably didn’t want to embarrass Arians any further by reaching the half century mark.
    Coaches like Rivera have to be careful. Turnabout is fair play although BA wouldn’t do that.

  45. By Richard S on Jan 25, 2016 | Reply

    What I learned:
    1. When you play to win when you’re being stomped, you throw up passes with the hope that something happens. To get back in the game you have to take more risky chances than if it were a close game, and a blowout becomes a stomp.
    2. The Cards missed Tyrann, no doubt. I remember one pass in the flat to a receiver who temporarily bobbled a ball before he hauled it in and I thought, Tyrann would have been there to break that up.
    3. The Cards missed Ryan Lindley. After all those picks that was what I was thinking. I think last years game was more watchable.
    4. Don’t throw jump balls to John Brown. He’s a speedster, not a jumper. Larry and Michael can jump for the questionable balls better than John Brown.
    5. The road to the Super Bowl for the next 10 years looks like it’s through Charlotte, North Carolina. I mean they are a young super dominant team. I don’t see them fading in the next decade. Hopefully I’m wrong as I want to see the Cards win a Super Bowl before I die. It’s on my bucket list along with visiting my hometown in August 2017 when the Total Solar Eclipse passes over.
    6. Carolina’s drop back defense worked a lot better than Arizona’s everybody go get em defense and let the defensive backs go one on one. Of course they did come hot and heavy after Carson at the beginning of the game when it was still close.
    7. Carolina’s coaches did a great job, even the special teams coach having the punter make that punt that Patrick dropped that turned the ball game for the worst. 8. Arizona running the trick Larry pass told me that the coaches didn’t think we could play a regular game and beat Carolina. I don’t remember too many trick plays run during the regular season.

  46. By Kevin S Mesa on Jan 25, 2016 | Reply

    Warner got us to one Super Bowl. Palmer’s only had a chance to play in the playoffs once — his first year, despite going 10-6 (as good as Warner’s best year), it wasn’t good enough to make the playoffs, and last year he was hurt. I’m not going to fault him for losing in the NFC Championship to a 15-1 team that is now the favorite to win the Super Bowl.

    You asked which is better, getting to a SB or not getting there? Well, obviously, getting there. But that 2008 team, you’ll recall, was a product of a terrible division. 6-0 in division, 3-7 outside of it. Didn’t really deserve to be in the playoffs — probably even less so than this year’s Redskins.

    But, they got on a roll, and also got to play a 9-6-1 team — at home — in the NFC championship due to some fortuitous circumstances. Do you think that Cardinal team beats this Panther team on the road?

    I loved when we had Warner, and I love having Palmer. In reality, though, Warner’s success was a product of pretty lucky circumstances in addition to his own greatness. Admittedly, the Warner teams did not have the defense that Palmer’s teams have had, but the defense didn’t show up yesterday either.

    As bad as Palmer was, three of his INT’s occurred with less than 12 minutes to go in the game, when it was all but over. I think even if he had played well, we lose by 14. He would have had to have had an unbelievable game to overcome how badly we played on defense and special teams.

  47. By Kevin S Mesa on Jan 25, 2016 | Reply

    I’ve got no problems with the 2-point conversion there. Sure, they were stomping us, but we’ve all seen crazy things. Indy put up 2 TD’s and almost a third — they kicked a 24-yard FG with time expiring, so they were inside the 10 yard line — all with 7 minutes to go against the Panthers. Are 3 TD’s and a FG unlikely? Sure, but our offense still came out after that score and tried to move the ball. If we weren’t giving up, why should the Panthers?

  48. By Dr.G. on Jan 25, 2016 | Reply

    Darren… Will you reply to my questions regarding your observations about Fitz’s feelings in his post game commentary? Thx

  49. By Darren Urban on Jan 26, 2016 | Reply

    Dr. G —

    RE: Fitz

    I have been around him/known him for 12 years. I feel comfortable in my analysis.

  50. By francisco V. on Jan 25, 2016 | Reply

    Hey guys the Cardinals had a great season. I remember when the cardinals were an 8-8 team. We have gone a long way from those times. We just had a bad game. We need to look at the mistakes that were made and learn from them. I was analyzing Carson palmers game and i believe that his finger injury had alot to do with the mistakes he made. The cardinals just couldnt say anything otherwise they would target palmer. And now that they lost they cant say he was injured because everyone will say they are making excuses. Look the Panthers were 15-1 and Cards 13-3 the panthers were the better team to begin with. Im proud of my Cardinals and next year the Cardinals will be a better team Bruce arians is doing a great job with the team. Hopefully Fitzgerald comes with the heat he had this year and prepares for a superbowl next year. CARDINAL NATION FOR LIFE !!!

  51. By CreditCard on Jan 25, 2016 | Reply

    A couple of truths:

    1. Carolina was not as good as the game unfolded last night
    2 The Cards are not as bad as the game unfolded last night
    3. The Cards have a very good organization with the mindset of improving and winning the super bowl.
    4. Palmer had a great season, and his performance dropped off at the end of the season. This very well could be muscle fatigue, season long soreness etc…
    5. Interior lines need to be more physical — especially at center, guard and nose tackle.
    6. Other NFL players want to play in AZ due to organization, coaching staff, winning atmosphere, and weather.
    7. Cards have some young players to build upon. D Johnson, Buchannan, Brown, Gunter, Stinson, Golden, Okafor, Catman, Mauro, Minter possibly Barkley, Humpheys, Cooper, Niklas, Nelson, Swearinger, Watford, Fau, Martin and Martin.

  52. By Dennis Green on Jan 25, 2016 | Reply

    We are not who we thought we were and they kept us on the hook.

  53. By BIGAL on Jan 25, 2016 | Reply

    Wow… I honestly never saw this coming…re: the weakness of the right side of our offensive line I saw, we all saw…But the last two weeks Jared Veldheer has not looked the same the last two weeks either??? I’m gonna throw this out cause I was scratching my head??? Did anyone else see Jermaine Gresham just siting on the bench mostly the whole game??? His uniform didn’t need washing? Yet nothing was ever said??? We all know BA uses 2 TE’s to deceive/and maybe? block??? Of all the Defenses we play… we need blocking help vs teams like Rams, Seabitches, etc…ie. they’re front 7…and yet??? There is something were not being privy too. And then there is….

    By Ottis Andeson Fan, wow you are right on…I have no idea at this point what’s out there, draft wise…but this team needs a couple things to be a SB contender and yet we are so close…a pro-bowl center, a pro-bowl pass rusher, a stud middle linebacker…and a future QB…that’s not asking too much right…but 1 or 2 of these and were there! And don’t get me wrong I love Lyle Sendlein, and if we had a pro bowl RG and RT…then Sendlein would be fine…I mean we haven’t had bad or missed snaps. In fact, I wish BA would give Carson more shot gun opportunities… Sendlein has given us more than that body has to offer! After all how many pro centers have actually played in 2 Championship games…OK the guy who snapped to Donavan McNabb played in 5 straight…also played in one SB…

    But Ottis Andeson Fan is soo right…our window now is next year…Larry and Carson are still our 2 BIG TIME Premier players (let’s not forget this team did set all time records) and even tho we are fortunate to have a bunch of really good players…Please don’t get me wrong…this is a really good team!!!
    However, there is only 1 HOFER on it, and everyone knows who that is!
    And lastly what’s/where are/is J. Cooper and DJ Humphries at this point??? Bobby Massie had probably his best season in his contract year and yet, he still sucked!
    Sorry so long… too butt hurt.
    One last thought…Carson, whether the finger/the tape…just wasn’t the same the last 3 weeks!!!

  54. By Scott H on Jan 26, 2016 | Reply

    Kevin –

    Look, I love having Palmer, too. I do, I REALLY do. After 3 seasons of Derek Anderson, John Skelton, and Kevin Kolb….Palmer has been a gift from the Gods

    In response to your point about the 2008 team being a product of a bad division…yes. And NO. During the regular season, the Cards did look like the best team in a bad division. But when the playoffs started, they found it. And they truly BECAME the best team in the NFC. Exactly what you want – to play your best at just the right time.

    Our views of the night that Palmer had last night clearly differ, so…so be it. I maintain that he has made poor decisions lately and it wasn’t just last night. Look at the pass he threw that was intercepted in the end-zone against GB. Are you gonna defend that one, too??? That was just a horrible decision. All on him. Someone else pointed out the INT that basically killed us against the Steelers earlier in the season, and rightfully so. That was a horrible decision, too.

    You are right, the defense WAS a major contributor to the disaster we saw on Sunday night.

  55. By Scott H on Jan 26, 2016 | Reply

    Steve W –

    OK. I disagree. It’s the playoffs. You lose, you’re done. For that simple reason, I don’t think for a minute that the Panthers “let up a bit” and I definitely don’t think they “allowed” Seattle to fight their way back. I think Seattle did what they did in the 2nd half by playing a lot better than they did in the first half. I don’t think Carolina “allowed” them to do anything.

  56. By JohnnyBluenose on Jan 26, 2016 | Reply

    I too was not impressed with Rivera’s decision to attempt a two point conversion but at least there was a bit of a reason for it. But why was Arians and/or Palmer throwing the ball on our last possession with only a minute or so left on the clock? Surely you cannot win the game. All you are doing is needlessly putting players at risk of injury. No one will be upset if you just hand the ball off. Well, maybe Darnell Dockett would be if he was still around.

  57. By Kevin S Mesa on Jan 26, 2016 | Reply

    Scott H —

    Good conversation.

    I’m definitely not defending Palmer’s play on Sunday, don’t get me wrong. And you bring up the GB INT he threw in the end zone, and the Pittsburgh one. I think you actually may be referring to a post I made in Darren’s previous blog entry, in which I pointed out that all three of those INT’s — the Pittsburgh one, the GB one and the first INT Sunday (all of which occurred in the end zone), plus the second one Sunday (when we were barely in Panther territory and caught on the opponent’s one yard line) all occurred on FIRST down. That’s what can be so frustrating about Palmer sometimes — he throws (or forces) a ball at exactly the time he doesn’t need to. Throw it away, take a sack, check it down… don’t heave one up on first down into double coverage. You’ve still got two more downs to make something happen.

    As a point of comparison, the first INT in the GB game, I have zero problem with. It was 3rd and 11 on the GB 48, and he heaved a pass up in the general direction of Floyd. It had a low percentage chance of success, but so what? No one else was open, so he took a shot. GB intercepted it and took over on the 18, which probably isn’t much different than if the pass was incomplete or Palmer took a sack, as Butler would’ve then punted and maybe GB gets it on the 10. That INT cost us nothing. That’s a “smart” interception. The throws into double coverage on first down, or the floater off his back foot vs. GB, are “dumb” interceptions.

    I think he pressed late in the game because we were down. 3 INT’s in the last 12 minutes made the final numbers look horrible instead of just mediocre. But we were already pretty much out of it.

    Let’s be clear too — it’s not just the INT’s, it’s also the missed throws. On the other hand, he MADE some throws that guys like Fitz and Fells dropped. The entire team sucked on Sunday, except for David Johnson.

    And now we have him sitting out of the Pro Bowl, and we’re all left to wonder how much the finger had to do with it. I don’t think the finger is to blame for some of the bad decisions (like the INT on first down toward the end of the first half), but it may be to blame for some of the lousy throws that were not INT’s, and perhaps if he made some of those other throws, we would’ve sustained a couple drives, put some points on the board, and not had to act out of desperation later.

    To be honest, I was nervous about this game after his very first throw. We took the opening kickoff, ran two plays (ineffectively), and he sailed a pass on 3rd and 7. I thought, uh oh, could be a long day. And it was longer than I could ever have imagined…

  58. By Scott H on Jan 26, 2016 | Reply

    Kevin –

    Yes, a good conversation. Nothing new!

    Perhaps we agree on more than I thought. Yes – David Johnson aside – it was hard to find anyone who performed well. I stop shy of saying the whole team sucked, but….it was close.

    I’m kinda short on time, so I can’t comment to the extent I would like. But let me make this one comment for now. Be careful what you say about that INT he threw against GB, the one to Floyd in the end zone. Easy to say you have no problem with that throw when it was only returned to the 18 and, essentially, is about the same as a punt. Yeah, after the fact, no harm done. But IF that INT gets returned for a TD or even just deep into our territory….that throw looks a WHOLE lot worse. Those 14-point swing plays ( picked off in one end zone and ending up in the other ) are the biggest game-changers under the sun. And IF that had happened at that point in that game….we aren’t even talking about how we played against the Panthers because we probably never would have got there.

    That INT felt like a killer at that point in the game. We over-came it, but….barely.

  59. By Kevin S Mesa on Jan 27, 2016 | Reply

    Scott H —

    I think we’re talking about two different plays.

    Yes, the pass to Floyd in the end zone, on first down, from the 10 yard line, was a potential killer and a terrible throw. Even if we stall there, it’s at least 3 points, and if Palmer instead throws an incompletion, we’ve got two more tries.

    I’m talking about our first drive of the 3rd quarter. Rashad Johnson intercepted Rodgers and we started a drive on the GB47. It wasn’t much of a “drive,” though, because David Johnson lost a yard on first down, and then there was an incompletion on 2nd down. On 3rd and 11, Palmer heaved a pass up around 30 yards in the general direction of Floyd, who was well covered, but Palmer’s probably thinking, what have I got to lose — I’ll throw a jump ball up and see if he catches it.

    On 3rd and long, given where we were on the field, I don’t have a major issue with that. Sure, the guy could theoretically intercept that pass and take it back for a TD, but the passes that are usually returned like that are the bullets where the defender steps in front, not the jump balls where there’s a lot of contact and everyone ends up on the ground.

    A long pass on 3rd down that gets intercepted usually isn’t that much different from a punt.

  60. By Scott H on Jan 28, 2016 | Reply

    Kevin –

    You are correct, we were referring to different plays. Sadly, it’s all water under the bridge now. September has never seemed further away than it does right now.

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