Cardinals Beat Falcons in a Game They Might Not Have Deserved
In the week 6 game against Atlanta Falcons, Kyler Murray put up some impressive stats. He ended the day 27/37 and 3 TD’s. The Cardinals offense was impressive, at least during the first half. They went into halftime with a 20 to 10 lead, had 301 yards and scored on each of their first five possessions – a first for the team since the Kurt Warner days in 2009.
After rallying his team, Atlanta quarterback Matt Ryan helped the Falcons get back into the game with a pass to running back Devonta Freeman. With just under two minutes left in the game, kicker Matt Bryant missed an extra point kick, just his fourth missed extra point in eleven seasons with Atlanta, allowing the Cardinals to keep their one-point lead and the eventual win.
The Cardinals received some very favorable calls that impacted Sunday’s game. The first of which came in the first play of the 2 quarter when Damiere Byrd caught a 59-yard pass from Kyler Murray, bringing the Cardinals to their own 1-yard line. Byrd lost the ball during the tackle but from the available camera angles, it didn’t seem that Byrd ever touched the ground, making it a potential fumble. With the refs making the original call of a reception and down by contact and without irrefutable evidence to overturn, the call stands, setting up the Cardinals for a TD.
The next call came in the 4 quarter when Pharoh Cooper was back to receive the punt. With the game tied at 27, Cooper called for a fair catch but appeared to get spooked by Falcons safety Sharrod Neasman and didn’t catch the ball. Looking at the replay, it seems the ball actually hit Cooper’s foot. Referees did not have enough proof to reverse the call, so the original call (fair catch interference) stands. Cardinals get to move 15 yards down the field, which later leads to a big touchdown by David Johnson.
The last call was also in the 4 quarter. Kyler Murray ran the ball with 1:38 left on the clock, trying to convert a 3 down into a 1 down. Murray was able to run to the sideline and was spotted for the 1 down. With the advantage of a different perspective, it appeared he was a little shy of the first down. Since it was under two minutes, referees completed a booth review but weren’t able to overturn the original call of first down allowing the Cardinals to run out the clock and win the game.
Let me be clear – I’m not blaming the referees for these calls. I stand firm that teams should never blame a referee for the result of a game. I also don’t believe that any one play is big enough to determine an entire game.
Although the Cardinals have shown steady improvement over the course of the season, these types of calls put a spotlight on the inexperience and poor decision making the team has suffered from this year.