TEMPE – For the fourth time in six games, the Arizona Cardinals held a halftime lead. And yet, they have only one win to show for it this season.
Another second-half funk led to yet another Arizona (1-5) loss Sunday against the Los Angeles Rams (3-3), 26-9, at SoFi Stadium. Trailing 9-3 in the first half, Los Angeles scored 23 unanswered points and shut out the Cardinals 20-0 in the second half and 10-0 in the final period.
The Cardinals have jumped out to fast starts repeatedly, outscoring their opponents 87-64 in the first half. Then they fade.
And their fourth-quarter performances have been especially problematic. They have been outscored 64-7 in the last 15 minutes this season.
“We’ve been in every game. We know we’re good enough to win these games,” said Cardinals tight end Trey McBride. “We’ve just got to find a way to finish these games. We’ve had the lead, we’re playing really well. We just got to somehow figure out a way to come together and finish these games. The morale is still positive.”
Sunday’s fourth quarter was another disaster.
The loss to the Rams marked the fifth time in six games Arizona has been shut out in the final period, and the second consecutive week in which the Cardinals couldn’t muster a point during that span. In their only victory of the season, they outscored the Dallas Cowboys 7-3 in the fourth quarter – the sole time they have outscored an opponent in the final period.
McBride, now in his second season with the club, was a bright spot for Arizona with four catches for 62 yards, including a 27-yard connection from quarterback Josh Dobbs. McBride had just 79 yards receiving through the first games. He was prepared to get more snaps with the game plan this week and knew he had to take advantage of the opportunities.
“That’s the role I’m in right now,” McBride said. “Every opportunity I get, I want to take full advantage of, whether I’m playing 20 snaps a game or I’m playing 50. I just want to be able to contribute to the team as much as I can when my number gets called.”
A defense that has largely kept the Cardinals close in many contests this season also struggled against the Rams in the second half, particularly on the ground. Arizona allowed an average of 124.2 rushing yards through the first five games but allowed 179 on the ground to the Rams.
Los Angeles had struggled in the running game entering Sunday, averaging less than 100 yards per game. However, running back Kyren Williams torched the Cardinals for 158 yards on 20 carries. The Rams relied on the run game to get their offense going in the second half, after trailing 9-6 at the break, and Arizona could do little to stop it.
The Cardinals remain positive despite their 1-5 start. McBride believes Arizona’s struggles are nothing that is out of the Cardinals’ control.
“It’s definitely not that we’re out of shape,” McBride said. “It’s nothing like that. We got to execute when it comes to crunch time. Those are the biggest moments. It’s do or die in those moments, and we just got to do better.”
Cardinals coach Jonathan Gannon did not rule out opening practice windows for quarterback Kyler Murray and safety Budda Baker. For now, his team will turn its attention to Sunday’s road game in Seattle, which always presents a tough environment.
“The 12th man, they pride themselves on being loud,” Gannon said of Seattle’s crowd. “I haven’t played there in a while, but we got to be able to operate. We’ve played in some tough environments already, but we know that we’re going to have to do some different things because it will be loud, especially on offense.”