TEMPE, Ariz. (AP) — The first gut punch of the Jonathan Gannon era has arrived for the Arizona Cardinals.
The Cardinals (0-2) blew a 21-point, third-quarter lead in a 31-28 loss to the New York Giants on Sunday, which was the biggest collapse for the franchise since 2011 and the biggest comeback for the Giants since 1949.
For a team looking to outperform low expectations this season, it was a brutal afternoon.
“I am really sick to my stomach,” Cardinals running back James Conner said Sunday. "I am hurt. I am not discouraged, but I am hurt, for sure. We are in this thing together. Our offense put a couple more points up than we did last week. Still wasn’t enough.
"We didn’t complete the mission.”
New York's comeback denied quarterback Joshua Dobbs his first NFL win as a starter and Gannon's first NFL win as a head coach. To his credit, Gannon didn't blame his players for the loss, instead putting the onus squarely on the coaching staff.
“We got outplayed in the second half,” Gannon said. "A tale of two halves. We have to do a better job to help our guys out because the effort’s there and the intensity is there — we’ve got to coach a little bit better.”
The problem for the Cardinals is things aren't going to get any easier in the coming weeks. The undefeated Cowboys come to town next Sunday, followed by games against the 49ers, Bengals, Rams, Seahawks and Ravens.
Dobbs played fairly well Sunday in his second game as the fill-in starter for Kyler Murray, who is still rehabbing a knee injury suffered last season. Dobbs completed 21 of 31 passes for 228 yards and one touchdown, but like most of the Cardinals, a big chunk of that production was in the first half.
While the Giants gained momentum in the second, the Cardinals' final four drives produced no points.
“We have to sustain drives, especially once their offense starts clicking and so how do we overcome that momentum that they create and go out and answer and finish in the fourth quarter?” Dobbs said. "That’s the biggest sticking point to me that we talked about in the locker room. We’ll grow from it, be right back, ready to compete next week.”
For about 2 1/2 quarters Sunday, the Cardinals did just about everything right.
That obviously doesn't erase the sting of losing a 21-point lead, but it does prove that the Cardinals have the ability to play well. Dobbs made some great throws in the first half, while tight end Zach Ertz, rookie receiver Michael Wilson and veteran Hollywood Brown all had good moments. Conner ran for 106 yards. Dennis Gardeck had another sack.
WHAT NEEDS HELP
The Cardinals are suddenly thin at safety after two-time All-Pro Budda Baker was placed on injured reserve Monday following a hamstring injury in practice last week. Arizona still has solid veteran Jalen Thompson — who had an interception against the Giants — but Baker's absence will be a big blow. He was inactive for Sunday's game.
Linebacker Victor Dimukeje has joined Gardeck and others to form a solid pass rush in the team's first two games. The sixth-round pick from Duke in 2021 has developed into a quality player, and has 1 1/2 sacks, three quarterback hits and one tackle for loss in just 47 total snaps. His playing time could increase in the coming weeks.
Receiver Rondale Moore had a quiet afternoon Sunday with just one catch for 14 yards.
The Cardinals still have at least two weeks before Murray can return from the PUP list. ... DL Carlos Watkins has a biceps injury. ... DL L.J. Collier went on injured reserve last week and Gannon called it “a pretty long injury.”
6 — The number of consecutive home games the Cardinals have lost. Their last win at State Farm Stadium came against the Saints in October last season.
The Cardinals have another tough task Sunday, hosting a Cowboys team that's coming off a 30-10 win over the Jets.
David Brandt, The Associated Press