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J.J. Watt on Cardinals Season, Loss to Rams: 'It Was a Massive Failure'

Cardinals defensive end J.J. Watt was pleased with how his shoulder held up following the loss to the Rams, but not with his team's performance.

It's been over 320 days since defensive end J.J. Watt posted a picture of himself working out in Arizona Cardinals gear, proclaiming to the world that he would be the organization's newest member. 

Watt entered 2021 as one of the most accomplished defensive players of his time, with numerous awards, giant paychecks and historic accolades that will follow him to Canton one day. 

The one elusive achievement for Watt is a Super Bowl ring, and that's why Watt opted for the desert landscape of Arizona. 

However, a slew of serious shoulder injuries in late October put Watt out for what many assumed to be the end of the season. 

Ten weeks later, the Cardinals welcomed Watt back for their Wild Card road trip to Los Angeles to take on the Rams. 

"Those are the things you come back for, and that's why you play the game, for those moments to win those games," Watt said to reporters earlier in the week. "I'm looking forward to that opportunity."

That opportunity has now come and gone following a 34-11 loss Monday night, ending Arizona's season and forcing Watt to wait at least one more season to potentially hold a Lombardi Trophy.

"It was, for me, it was embarrassing. We put up an embarrassing performance. There's no other way to put it really," said Watt following the game. 

Arizona's defense allowed Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford to complete over 75% of his passes in a game where Stafford only attempted 17 throws. Against the blitz, Stafford was 7-of-8 for a season-high 148 yards and a touchdown pass to Cooper Kupp, according to ESPN Stats & Information.

The Cardinals offense, led by quarterback Kyler Murray, also shouldered a large part of the blame in a game where Arizona turned the ball over twice, one of which was an interception that was returned a mere three yards for a touchdown to put Los Angeles ahead 21-0 early in the game.

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Teams who led 21-0 at any point in 2021 were 82-0 after the final whistle. The Rams pushed that winning streak to 83. 

"They played much, much better than we did. There's not a whole lot to say about it. They made more plays and made less mistakes. And they executed extremely well and we executed extremely poorly," said Watt, who like many others, were at a loss for words. 

There were concerns about how Watt's shoulder would hold up. However, after a week of practice and the shoulder holding up in the weight room, Watt assured everybody that he felt fine in his comeback bid despite being on what appeared to be a snap count. 

Watt finished with three total tackles, one being recorded for a loss.

"I was fine, (my) shoulder held up fine," said Watt earlier in his press conference. Watt would later double down by saying, "(The shoulder) feels good, no problems." 

Yet Watt wasn't concerned with the status of his health. He was more fixated on trying to hold himself and his teammates accountable for what happened on the field. 

He said, "It was a massive failure. I mean, from what we were capable of doing, and from what we showed we can do, to today, there's no other way to describe it then as a failure.

"Now, you know, part of sports is that you get to enjoy the highs but then you also have to live with the lows and you hope to have less lows than highs obviously. But you know, if you're gonna ride high and if you're going to enjoy the good times, and if you're gonna be confident and excited during the good times, you also got to understand that, when the s--- goes bad, you take that too. 

"So I'm not going to stand up here and not take my lumps. I mean, we didn't do what we're supposed to do. Started the season great and we finished the season terrible. So, it is what it is."

The Cardinals now enter a long offseason that will see the team once again take their best stab at building a roster capable of making a deep playoff run, much like it once appeared the 2021 team was meant to be. 

More fuel has now been added to Watt's fire. We'll see if that can help inspire any changes within the Cardinals moving forward.