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'Self-Inflicted Wounds' Continue to Cost Cardinals with No Clear Solution

The Arizona Cardinals fell to the Indianapolis Colts on Saturday night after dozens of missteps and missed chances.
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"We can't keep shooting ourselves in the foot."

Arizona Cardinals running back Chase Edmonds stated one of the defining phrases of the 2020 season that is unwelcomely becoming more popular in recent weeks. 

The Cardinals lost what they considered to be a "winnable" game to the Indianapolis Colts 22-16 on Saturday in a complementary performance of "self-inflicted wounds."

Arizona committed a season-high 11 penalties which marred both sides of the ball. 

It missed three kicks, two of which were affected by poor holds as punter Andy Lee was out on the COVID-19 list. This cost the Cardinals seven points. 

It also had two errant snaps, one of which resulted in a safety. 

Despite committing plentiful errors through three quarters, the Cardinals were down just two heading into the fourth. But, they could not pull it together in time.  

"We continue to find ways to lose critical situations and penalties and things of that nature," head coach Kliff Kingsbury said. "We've got to get it turned around somewhere."

Where? 

This was supposed to be something the Cardinals left behind in the 2020 season. That's why they brought in so much veteran leadership. 

Penalties and mishaps happen, but the amount of them and in the situations they transpired on Saturday were uncharacteristic of a contending team.

"Good teams don't do that," quarterback Kyler Murray said. "We weren't doing that early on in the season. And now you see, it's killing us in crucial moments."

The Cardinals did not have a great offensive performance on Saturday. Murray missed some throws and a few short drives gave the ball back quickly. 

They still gained 378 net yards, but moving backward was a major hinderance. 

In the first half, the Cardinals had the ball inside the Colts' 30-yard line down 7-6. They lined up to go for it on fourth-and-1, but right guard Josh Jones committed a false start, his second of three such penalties on Saturday. 

Arizona still went for it but failed from six yards out. 

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The Colts did not score on the ensuing possession, but they flipped the field and pinned Arizona deep. 

Center Max Garcia, who had a dubious night filling in for Rodney Hudson (COVID), then tossed a bad snap past Murray. 

The young quarterback threw the ball away in the end zone and was called for intentional grounding. Two points were awarded to Indianapolis on the safety. 

The Colts entered Saturday's game as a team that had an old-school running game, committed few penalties and did not turn the ball over. They had a clear profile, one of a team that was not going to beat itself. 

Indianapolis committed five penalties, converted on over half of its third downs and did not lose the ball in this game.

It was up to the Cardinals to match that, and they could not. 

"The Colts are a great team, have great players, played a great game," safety Budda Baker said. "But little things like false starts and offsides and roughing the passer and pre-snap things . . . we've got to lay off from things like that. It's definitely frustrating, for sure."

For the third straight week, Arizona did not clinch a playoff spot with a win. If the Minnesota Vikings, New Orleans Saints or Philadelphia Eagles lose (the Saints play Monday night), the Cardinals are in regardless. 

But what kind of team will they be once elimination games start?

Multiple players said the team needs to look at itself in the mirror and figure out what to do.

Baker said practices have not felt any different now from when the team was rolling to a 7-0 start.

Perhaps there is no clear answer, no speech or mantra that will get the Cardinals to play more disciplined football.

The 1-0 mentality that was harped on early is still being said by players in press conferences, although Baker told reporters that it hasn't been preached as much lately.

Could the saying just mean less now that the season is 16 weeks old and the playoffs are coming? 

"How we started the season, these weren't showing up and now they're showing up," Kingsbury said. "The answer is in that locker room and the coach's office and we've got to figure it out."

The Cardinals are running out of time to find their step before the playoffs begin.  

Teams who stumble in tend to fall quickly.