Cardinals’ loss to Steelers followed same script as loss to Rams
TEMPE, Ariz. — Meet the new loss, same as the old loss.
That was coach Bruce Arians’ assessment of his Arizona Cardinals’ 25-13 defeat at Pittsburgh on Sunday.
Arians called the game "identical" to the Cardinals’ other loss, 24-22 at home to the St. Louis Rams on Oct. 4.
"It was us beating us," he said on Monday.
In both games, despite playing poorly, the Cardinals had a chance to win it late.
This time, trailing 18-13, the Cardinals drove from their 21-yard line and, after Carson Palmer’s 19-yard pass to John Brown, had the ball at the Steelers’ 20. On the next play, Palmer threw deep to Brown but safety Mike Mitchell leaped in front of Brown to intercept in the end zone. Palmer said after the game he didn’t see Mitchell before he threw.
Against the Rams, Palmer overthrew the intended receiver late on a play that would have put Arizona in position for a game-winning field goal.
Arians rated Palmer’s performance on Sunday "average to poor."
The Cardinals quarterback racked up big numbers, completing 29 of 45 passes for 421 yards. It was his eighth career 400-yard game, but he threw for just one touchdown and was intercepted twice.
"He made a lot of throws and we made a lot of catches," Arians said, "but we didn’t execute very well inside the 20-yard line."
The Cardinals, who entered the game as the NFL’s highest-scoring team, had one touchdown in four trips inside the red zone. That makes them 2-of-9 in the red zone in their two losses. In Arizona’s four wins, the Cardinals had 16 touchdowns in 17 red zone visits.
Arizona had 279 yards to the Steelers’ 59 in the first half, but led only 10-3.
Brown caught 10 passes for a career-best 196 yards, but his fumble gave Pittsburgh the ball at the Arizona 32-yard line early in the third quarter. That led to Landry Jones’ eight-yard touchdown pass to Martavis Bryant and the Steelers took the lead for good, 12-10.
Jones had never thrown a pass in an NFL game and his TD toss was his first completion.
Arizona safety Tony Jefferson was a teammate of Jones at Oklahoma and joked that the quarterback knew better than to throw the ball his way.
But Jefferson agreed with cornerback Patrick Peterson that the Arizona defense let up when Michael Vick was hurt and Jones, the third-string quarterback, entered the game.
"I think we kind of took a step back and kind of just relaxed a little bit," Jefferson said. "But he brought his A game."
The Steelers scored on all four possessions after Jones came in, not counting when he took a knee at the end of the game.
A week earlier, Detroit committed six turnovers to Arizona’s zero in the Cardinals’ 42-17 victory. On Sunday, the Cardinals turned it over three times, the Steelers none.
"We can’t be a defense that doesn’t get turnovers," Jefferson said. "Even if our offense does give some turnovers, we’ve got to do our part to get some. We’ve got to be ball hawks. We’ve got to be playmakers."
Pittsburgh was the first team with a winning record that Arizona has played, but the Steelers were without their starting quarterback (Ben Roethlisberger) and three defensive starters, and they lost their starting left tackle early in the game.
The Cardinals’ Michael Floyd caught his first touchdown pass of the season. He had all kinds of trouble in three other end zone adventures. Once he was called for offensive pass interference, even though replays showed little evidence he committed the offense. Another time his toe touched out of bounds after his reception. And once a defender grabbed his jersey and pulled on it and he couldn’t get to the ball. No penalty was called.
"I don’t think anybody else missed it in the stadium," Arians said, "other than the two guys with striped shirts on."
Notes: Arians said tight end Darren Fells has "some sort of a strain" in his knee. The coach said MRI results weren’t in yet. Without Fells, Arizona is down to two tight ends — Jermaine Gresham and Troy Niklas. … Next up for Arizona is a Monday night home game next week against the reeling Baltimore Ravens, who fell to 1-5 Sunday with a loss at San Francisco, the worst start to a season in Ravens history. … The Cardinals still lead the NFC West at 4-2. St. Louis is 2-3, Seattle and San Francisco 2-4.
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- Landry Jones
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- Troy Niklas