Arizona Cardinals head coach Kliff Kingsbury made several questionable decisions in the final minute of his team’s loss to the Seattle Seahawks on Thursday night.
Down 28-21 and starting a drive with 2:21 remaining, the Cardinals marched 52 yards to get to first and 10 from the Seahawks’ 27-yard line. At this point, it looked like Seattle’s defenders were on their heels, and Arizona was on an inexorable march to the end zone.
The next play was an incomplete pass intended for Chase Edmonds. That’s when the decision-making got murky. On 2nd and 10, with 50 seconds remaining, Kyler Murray targeted Larry Fitzgerald in the end zone. The pass fell incomplete. Then, with the play clock winding down, Kingsbury took a timeout and Murray looked visibly annoyed. After the Seahawks took a subsequent timeout, Murray threw a pass to Andy Isabella that, if completed, had a good shot at winding up in the end zone, but it also fell incomplete. Murray was sacked on fourth down to seal the game.
Here’s why this play-calling is questionable. First, the Cardinals had plenty of time and did not need to rush to punch it in. These plays had a high degree of difficulty, and there were myriad ways for Arizona to try to get it closer to the end zone before going for the score.
Secondly, not targeting DeAndre Hopkins, who caught a miraculous touchdown on a Hail Mary in triple coverage against the Bills on Sunday, was bananas.
Finally, if the Cardinals HAD scored on second or third down when they were taking end zone shots, Russell Wilson would’ve had ample time to get the Seahawks into field goal range to set up a victory in regulation.
I understand that football coaches have the mindset that they have to worry about scoring first before being concerned about timing. However, anyone who’s watched football this past decade knows that 40-50 seconds is all the time in the world for Russell Wilson to cook up some magic, especially if he has to move only about 40-45 yards in that time to give his team a shot.
The Cardinals let a golden opportunity slip away from them in the final minute of Thursday Night Football, thanks in large part to Coach Kingsbury.