How penalties, poor clock management on final drive cost Cardinals in ‘MNF’ loss to Rams

The Cardinals had a chance to tie or beat the Rams in the final 37 seconds of their “Monday Night Football” game, but two penalties and bad clock management on the drive doomed Arizona to its third loss of the season.

Arizona trailed 30-23 after a Matt Prater kicked a field goal with 41 seconds remaining. It needed to recover the onside kick — something the Cardinals hadn’t done since 2008 — to stay alive in the game. Prater kicked the ball almost directly at Rams linebacker Zaven Collins, who couldn’t control it, and Arizona got it back with 37 seconds left.

Kyler Murray ran for 15 yards on the first play of the final drive, but the play didn’t count because Sean Harlow was called for holding, a 10-yard penalty. Then tackle Kelvin Beachum was flagged for a false start, adding another 5 yards to the distance the Cardinals had to drive. 

MORE: Rams vs. Cardinals final score, results

With 26 seconds left, Murray threw to James Conner for a 9-yard gain. The Cardinals hustled to the line start the next play but decided not to spike the ball to stop the clock. The game ended with Murray being sacked by Aaron Donald for an 18-yard loss. 

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Murray was asked about the final drive in his postgame press conference. He said there was a miscommunication on the last play.

“It was miscommunication between me and the O-line, they thought it was spike,” Murray said. “It was [a] heat-of-the-moment deal. I don’t even recall what was being said in the helmet.”

Cardinals coach Kliff Kingsbury also spoke about the final drive in his postgame press conference, but he focused on the positives. He said the Cardinals could have played cleaner, but he was proud with how hard they played overall.

“I thought it was a tremendous effort by that group, getting that ball, great kick, great recovery,” Kingsbury said.

MORE: Missed facemask penalty costs Rams a shot at a TD in fourth quarter

The Cardinals had seven penalties in the game for 54 yards. Fifteen of those yards came in the last drive. Earlier in the fourth quarter, the Cardinals weren’t flagged for a facemask penalty on Jordan Phillips as Phillips was sacking Matthew Stafford. 

Murray finished the game with a career-high 444 total yards, but he also had zero passing or rushing touchdowns. Murray also threw two interceptions.

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