The Arizona Cardinals had a disappointing 2016 season, to say the least. One year after making it to the 2015 NFC Championship Game, the team struggled to a 7-8-1 record and didn’t qualify for the playoffs.
So, where did things go wrong?
Arizona head coach Bruce Arians knows where to point the finger, and his target shouldn’t surprise anyone.
“I think the biggest reason was losing the opener on Sunday Night Football to the (New England) Patriots on that missed field goal,” Arians said Wednesday on ProFootballTalk Live. “That took a lot of swagger out of our football team, then we came back and lost to the (Los Angeles) Rams in another close game. We didn’t win the close games we had won in the past, but it all goes back to that first one.”
In case your memory is foggy, here’s a refresher: Backup quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo and the Patriots beat the Cardinals 23-21, thanks largely to a missed 47-yard field goal attempt by Arizona’s Chandler Catanzaro in the game’s final minute. The Cardinals limped forward from that point on, while New England went on to win Super Bowl LI.
Of course, a rough Week 1 loss doesn’t always predict doom and gloom — in fact, it can be used to galvanize a team. The Patriots, for example, opened the 2003 season with a brutal 31-0 loss to the Buffalo Bills but went on to win 14 of their next 15 games, including a victory in Super Bowl XXXVIII.
It’s safe to say Arians’ 2016 Cardinals weren’t the 2003 Patriots, though.
Thumbnail photo via Mark J. Rebilas/USA TODAY Sports Images