Cardinals drop to 1-6 after mistakes in all phases
GLENDALE — A season already gone bad turned worse for the Arizona Cardinals on Thursday night, before a national television audience.
The Cardinals absorbed a 45-10 drubbing by the Denver Broncos to fall to 1-6, one of the worst home losses in franchise history. There were mistakes across the board on offense, defense and special teams.
The offense entered last in the NFL in yards per game, and didn't do much to help deflect further criticism. With offensive coordinator Mike McCoy under pressure amid rumors of his possible ousting, the Cardinals went 4 for 14 on third down and gained only 223 total yards.
Forced to play from well behind, they managed only 69 rushing yards against the league's worst rushing defense.
"That's premature to talk about any changes right now," Cardinals first-year head coach Steve Wilks said. "Everybody's going to be evaluated across the board. We've got to find ways to get this thing moving in the right direction."
Wilks was pressed on McCoy's status.
"I didn't say Mike McCoy at all," Wilks said. "I'm talking about changes that could personnel. It could be players. Whatever it may be. It could be scheme."
Josh Rosen threw three interceptions — two returned for touchdowns in the first quarter — and lost two fumbles.
Broncos linebacker Von Miller had earlier in the week said boldly claimed that the Broncos would kick the Cardinals' behind. The Broncos, 2-4 going in, helped their star linebacker back up his words.
Rosen, the 10th overall pick this year, was critical of himself. Miller stripped him of the ball twice and he was sacked six times.
"Obviously I didn't play up to my standards or even close to it, but there's another one next week," Rosen said.
Things were already in such dire straits at halftime that Cardinals fans booed their team off the State Farm Stadium field going into the locker room, and even that was drowned out in part by the cheers from a large number of fans in Broncos orange.
Defensively, the Cardinals were caught off guard by wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders' trick-play touchdown pass to a wide open Courtland Sutton in the first quarter, and Sanders was so open on his 64-yard touchdown reception that he had time to execute a flip into the end zone.
"The one trick play in the first quarter, that was a little surprising," linebacker Haason Reddick said. "No matter what the score is, whether we're down 14, 15 or 60, you've've just got to continue to play and try to get back on top."
Denver's rush defense was strong; Arizona, the second-worst rush defense in the league behind the Broncos coming into Thursday, was gashed for a third-quarter 28-yard touchdown run by Phillip Lindsay with the Broncos already ahead 35-3.
On special teams, Brandon Williams leg-whipped Broncos return man DaeSean Hamilton after he called for a fair catch, and the Broncos got the ball at their own 21 instead of the 6, already ahead 28-3.
Rosen was replaced by backup Mike Glennon with 5:29 to play and, by that time it was a celebration for Broncos fans in the Cardinals' stadium.
"Good question," Wilks said when asked why Arizona's offense continues to struggle. "Whether it's not getting movement up front, whether it's not protecting in the pass game, not being able to make the proper throws or make the proper catches, there's a lot that goes around."