The Cardinals suffered a disappointing 25-24 loss to the Chargers on Sunday, a defeat that dropped the home team to 4-8 on the season — and raised questions as to the job security of fourth-year coach Kliff Kingsbury.
Arizona took a 24-17 lead with 11:31 remaining in the game, followed by three forced punts by the defense to hold the Chargers at arm’s length. But the Cardinals’ offense struggled even more in that span, suffering three three-and-outs and mustering just 16 yards in nine plays.
That allowed Justin Herbert to engineer a last-minute comeback as he led the Chargers on a seven-play, 38-yard touchdown drive capped with a 1-yard touchdown to running back Austin Ekeler. The Chargers’ 2-point conversion was little more than simple pitch-and-catch between Herbert and Gerald Everett, sealing the loss for Arizona:
CHARGERS CONVERT ON THE 2-POINT CONVERSION FOR THE LEAD 🤯
— 𝐓𝐡𝐞 𝐒𝐩𝐨𝐫𝐭𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐍𝐞𝐰𝐬 (@sportingnews) November 28, 2022
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The Cardinals’ record 12 games through the season — plus the way in which they lost on Sunday — prompted one reporter to ask Kingsbury after the game whether he was worried about his job security.
Responded Kingsbury: “I’m not.”
That confidence may be warranted, as Kingsbury is fresh off leading the team to an 11-6 record and playoff berth. He and general manager Steve Keim were also given contract extensions in the offseason, though that doesn’t necessarily preclude a shakeup in the staffing if the Cardinals continue struggling.
That said, Arizona has not seen nearly the return on investment it might have wanted from Kingsbury this season. The team is 4-8 heading into a bye week, with each of its four victories coming against sub-.500 teams. Moreover, the Cardinals were embarrassed on an international stage on “Monday Night Football” against the 49ers in Mexico City, falling 38-10 in a game that never felt particularly competitive.
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Sunday’s game was a microcosm of the Cardinals’ struggles this year. One particularly egregious decision saw the Cardinals go for it on fourth-and-1 at the team’s own 34-yard line, with Kyler Murray throwing a deep interception on the play.
— Los Angeles Chargers (@chargers) November 27, 2022
The Chargers turned the turnover into a touchdown. Even worse, Murray had this to say of the play after the game:
“Schematically, we were kinda f—ed.”
Certainly not a ringing endorsement of the play call or the decision to go for it. That said, Kingsbury said this loss wasn’t more painful than any others the Cardinals have suffered this year. He also added that he believes his team will play better down a pivotal final stretch:
“You lose in this league, they’re all tough, week in and week out,” Kingsbury said. “Give them a lot of credit. They hung in there and that call at the end was big time.”
“It’s all about trying to get better at this point,” Kingsbury added. “I still think our best football is in front of us.”