Harmon: Winning doesn't have to be this difficult, Cardinals

Eagles Cardinals Football
Posted at 7:37 PM, Dec 21, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-21 21:37:30-05

GLENDALE, AZ — Well, I think the collective blood pressure of the Red Sea is now back to normal levels. That is until next weekend, when it will likely happen all over again. That is the Cardinals in 2020. One second they make you pull your hair out, and the next you're jumping up and down with excitement. But does it always have to be this hard?

A blocked punt, a relentless pass rush, and creative play-calling early on gave the Cardinals a 16-point lead that looked like they'd be able to ride to a stress-free win. But Sunday was far from that because nothing is ever easy with this team.

Perfectly encapsulating the exuberant highs and the frustrating lows of what the Cardinals can do was the play of Kyler Murray and DeAndre Hopkins yesterday. Hopkins made jaw-dropping catches, one after another. Kyler threw for a career-best 408 yards. Yet the two accounted for three Cardinals turnovers, two of which came in the red zone, that kept the Eagles in it.

NFL history shows that when a team turns it over three or more times and their opponent doesn't, the chances to win are 8%. Yet the Cards still found a way.

"As a team, we've got a lot to improve and work on, as an offense, especially," Hopkins said. "I hold Kyler to a high standard. He holds me to a high standard. He shouldn't have thrown that interception down there, knowing where we were. And I shouldn't have fumbled the ball. He'll probably say the same. We hold each other to a high standard around here. That's the only way we're gonna win."

"I think that's the next step for us," he added. "Having those statement wins and doing it weekly."

You look at this team and, on one hand, see that they are drastically improved just two years removed from the low-point of an organizational reset. But the other side is they could be in a much better place than 8-6 right now, if not for giving games away against the Lions, Dolphins and Patriots.

"I think you have to develop that culture where, when you have a chance to finish teams off, you get it done," said Cardinals second-year head coach Kliff Kingsbury.

The Cardinal's high-wire act has them holding on to that seventh and final playoff spot with a one-game lead over the Chicago Bears, who hold the tiebreaker should the two teams finish with the same record. The Bears play the lowly-Jaguars this week and then the Packers, who will likely be playing for a first-round bye and home-field advantage, in week 17. The Cardinals host the 49ers this Saturday and then travel to Los Angeles to take on a Rams team they haven't beaten in their last eight tries.

The end of a five-year playoff drought will come down to the wire, just like nearly every Cardinals game this season, requiring the Red Sea to collectively hold its breath once again.

"We've got a good team. That's something that we all know," said Hopkins. "We came in the locker room and said, 'We made it more exciting than it should have been.' Once we get past that and take that next step, it's going to be hard to beat us."

The question is, which Cardinals team will show up? The one that excites, or the one that makes you pull your hair out?