Arizona Cardinals stumble into a playoff spot with a little help from the Rams

By Vaughan Jones
Associated Press
Published: Monday, December 27, 2021 - 7:24am
Updated: Monday, December 27, 2021 - 11:01am

The Arizona Cardinals have clinched a playoff spot for the first time since 2015, but not by winning their matchup against the Indianapolis Colts on Christmas Day.

The Cardinals failed to clinch a berth for the third straight week after a 22-16 loss to the banged-up Colts, who were missing arguably their best defensive player and four starting offensive linemen.

But the Minnesota Vikings lost to the Los Angeles Rams Sunday, and that loss made it impossible for the Vikings to finish with a better win-loss record than Arizona, so the Cardinals make the playoffs by default.

It was the fourth straight win for the Rams (11-4), who passed the Cardinals (10-5) for first place in the NFC West.

After a 7-0 record to start the season, the Cardinals are just 3-5 in the last eight games.

“All you have to do is get in, that is all you got to do,” said Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray after the Indianapolis loss. “But at the end of the day we don’t want to get in the way we are playing. We want to go in playing good, feeling good about ourselves.”

Cardinals coach Kliff Kingsbury is 0-5 with the Cardinals when they've had a chance to clinch a playoff spot. They started the 2020 season with a 6-3 record but closed with a 2-5 mark to miss the playoffs for a fifth straight season.

“The thing about it is it's fixable,” Murray said. “We just have to look ourselves in the mirror and stop making these mistakes because that game was very winnable. Good teams don’t do that.”

There have been some injuries that have undoubtedly hurt. Three-time Defensive Player of the Year J.J. Watt has a shoulder injury that will likely keep him out for the rest of the year. Three-time All-Pro receiver DeAndre Hopkins is also likely out for the rest of the regular season because of a sprained knee.

The Cardinals play against the Dallas Cowboys on Jan. 2.

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