The Arizona Cardinals suffered back-to-back losses for the first time this season on Sunday. However, their blowout defeat in Detroit reeked of something worse than we'd seen all season from the Red Sea.
Losing to the division-rival Los Angeles Rams in prime time is one thing. Sleepwalking through a demolition at the hands of a one-win team is something else entirely.
Sunday's 30-12 loss to the lowly Lions left coach Kliff Kingsbury perplexed.
"Obviously pissed to come out, play like that," Kingsbury said, via Pro Football Talk. "That's not who we want to be or what we want to be. But I've got to tip my hat to Detroit. I thought they had a tremendous plan. They outcoached us and outplayed us. We got to be better."
Here is the rundown:
- Kingsbury got outcoached by Dan Campbell.
- Kyler Murray and the offense got beat up by one of the worst defenses in the league, which entered Sunday ranked 29th in points allowed and 28th in yards.
- The defense got run over by Kutztown University's Craig Reynolds, who galloped for 112 rushing yards in his first career start, and divebombed by Jared Goff.
That's about as poor an outing as you can imagine for a division leader in December versus one of just four teams already eliminated from postseason contention.
Sunday marked the third time since the NFL merger that a team with the best (or tied for best) record lost to a team with the worst (or tied for worst) record entering the matchup (min. eight games each). The silver lining for Arizona: The previous two such teams, 2004 Patriots and 1995 Cowboys, both went on to win the Super Bowl that season.
"We can't let this thing spiral, per se," tight end Zach Ertz said. "Momentum is real in the NFL, good and bad, and we've got to find a way to flip it."
The Cards had a chance to punch their playoff ticket by simply beating a team that had one win on its resume. Last year, Kingsbury's club lost two win-and-in games, finishing the season 3-6 after a 5-2 start.
Murray insists this year is different, despite back-to-back losses, including Sunday's beatdown.
"No, not at all. Not at all. Not at all," Murray said, via ESPN. "This isn't nowhere near where we were last year -- and we're not going to allow it to be so."
Murray's stance is understandable, but you could see why Cardinals fans find it the perfect time to panic: They lost, DeAndre Hopkins is gone until at least the postseason, the playoffs start in three weeks and the entire operation seems a mess.
"Obviously, we didn't come prepared at all," Murray said. "They played hard. It was a physical game. I wish we knew it was going to be. Like I said, I don't know what happened today. We just didn't come ready to play."
If the Cardinals couldn't stop the bleeding against Detroit, what suggests they'd be able to do so against better talent? Was the early-season success simply a mirage? Are the Cards once again pretenders ready to get knocked off by the real heavyweights?
"We've got to work at it," Kingsbury said. "We've got to talk about it and face it. All of us have got to look at ourselves in the mirror and figure out why it was like that because that hadn't been us all year."