Losses hurt in the NFL. Every last one of them.But the Cardinals 19-16 overtime defeat to the Bills on Sunday stings just a little bit more than most do.
There's plenty of blame to go around, but why point fingers?
Why point fingers at an offensive line that features the two worst tackles in football? If you don't believe me, just ask Kevin Kolb's mouth and ribs -- which have doubled as punching bags in the last two games.
Oops. I was trying to avoid the blame game.
But seriously, is it too much to ask Reagan Maui'a, who only played because Anthony Sherman was out, to not spike the ball after a seven-yard catch near midfield? I know Maui'a only has a handful or so career catches, but when your offense struggles to move the ball forward, you're supposed to embrace all the positive yards you can.
After the game, Cardinals coach Ken Whisenhunt called the delay penalty, "stupidity." That was a lot more G-rated than what the TV cameras caught him saying to Maui'a during the game.
There were also the usual suspects -- dropped passes, poor run blocking (as usual), a misread between Kolb and running back William Powell on the play where Kolb got knocked out of the game and bad reads by both Kolb and John Skelton which resulted in interceptions.
I hate to throw Jay Feely under the bus, especially since his 61-yard field goal with 74 seconds left in regulation tied things up, but it's tough to not lose sleep after a missed 38-yard field goal that would've won it -- although Feely is convinced the kick was tipped after a low snap.
LaRod Stephens-Howling's drop on a screen pass came right before Skelton's game deciding pick.
There was some good news. The running game showed signs of life - namely Powell and Kolb - combining for 136 of the Cardinals 182 rushing yards.
The toughest thing to swallow about this one is knowing the Bills limped into University of Phoenix Stadium having allowed 97 points in their last two games, and weren't even competitive last week (a 45-3 beat down in San Francisco). This should have been a get well game for the Cardinals.
The good news is - despite back to back losses - the Red Birds are still tied for first place in the NFC West. The bad news is their confidence has to be shaken, their starting quarterback is in a lot of pain, and D'Anthony Batiste and Bobby Massie are still their starting tackles (at least as of Sunday evening).
Next Sunday they visit the Minnesota Vikings, who also lost on Sunday. Like the Cardinals, the Vikings are off to a surprising 4-2 start, but have also proven to be vulnerable.
The Cardinals need to remember last year's 34-10 loss at the Metrodome that dropped them to 1-4. They also need to remember that while it's practically impossible to play a completely perfect game physically in this league, mentally there is absolutely no margin for error.
Although the defense has given up some big plays in each of the last three weeks, they've also made big plays - in crucial situations.
I don't believe the clock has struck midnight for the Cardinals, but they are at a crossroads. At the end of last season, I wrote that my expectations are high for this team. They still are.
Now is not the time to jump off the bandwagon.