Mistakes, Miscommunication, and Odd Decisions Plagued Kliff Kingsbury and the Cards While Matthew Stafford Thrived


The quarterback who still has a lot to prove demonstrated he can win big games.

Maybe not, as the head coach did.


The Los Angeles Rams and QB Matthew Stafford upset Kliff Kingsbury’s Arizona Cardinals 30-23 on Monday night. While this was a regular-season game in December, it may foreshadow the playoff games in January.

Stafford gave it his all. Kingsbury did not.

Start with Stafford, who has 50,000 career throwing yards, 320 career TDs, and a $250,000,000 career salary.

His ability to throw the football has never been questioned, which is why he was the top quarterback recruit and overall draft choice out of college.

Winning big games?

That’s another question. Stafford never won a playoff game (0-3 in the wild-card round) or a division title in Detroit. His résumé lacks even big regular-season triumphs.

They traded for him last year, including QB Jared Goff and two first-round draft selections, believing Stafford was a winner hampered by the Lions’ instability.

The Rams are currently 9-4, but Stafford didn’t appear like a Super Bowl-caliber quarterback until Monday, on the road, with an injury-depleted squad.

He passed for 287 yards and three touchdowns, with near-perfect accuracy. He threw sidearm downfield, through needles. He wowed.

“Matthew Stafford was outstanding,” McVay added. I think he made fantastic judgments, exploited incredible huge shots, and was terrific on third down.

The Rams hoped to see this Stafford. His chemistry with Cooper Kupp (13 receptions, 123 yards) belies their first season as teammates. Making tremendous plays from botched ones revolutionized the game.

In the passing game, Stafford said he believed his team was efficient, taking what they provided him and hitting his targets for 40, 44, and 58 yards.

Then there were the winning details. Not even pursuing his own fumble after being strip-sacked. Everyone else on the field assumed it was a missed pass. No. It was live. Stafford recovered and fired a touchdown pass to extend the advantage to 27-13.

“I was scream[ing] as I ran,” Stafford added. “It was an incomplete pass, but I didn’t want to risk it.”

Arizona missed such moments. While Kingsbury has led the Cardinals to a 10-3 record, no one knows whether he is equipped for the postseason, when every decision is emphasized.

With 5:24 left in the game and Arizona behind by 10, Arizona faced a fourth-and-1 from the Rams’ 37-yard line. Kick a field goal — Matt Prater was nailing them — and it’s a one-score game. The Cardinals needed a field goal.

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Statistically, they blew it, giving LA a tremendous edge. Even though the Rams had to punt, they still led by two.

“I liked the call, but “”Kingsbury” “You have to admire them. “I’d do it 100 times over.”

With 2:44 left, the Cardinals executed an 11-play drive until the fourth down forced a 49-yard field goal try with 41 seconds left. Prater made it 30-23, but time was running out. They had several alternatives to kick faster and save time.

But after recovering the onside kick, the Cards had to rush through two offensive penalties and a last-play debate over whether Kyler Murray should spike it or try a Hail Mary. Instead, Aaron Donald had a sack as the offensive line failed to block.

“Me and the o-line miscommunicated,” Murray said. “They expected a ‘spike.’ But that’s the moment. “I have no idea what was stated in the helmet.”

That material has to be sewed up. It was part of the issue.

“Many penalties, two turnovers, fourth-down conversions,” Murray added. “We could have changed a lot of things.”

But they didn’t. So no. Arizona still leads the NFC West after losing the top spot. Kingsbury shrugged. Considering his club is 3-3 at home and 7-0 on the road this season, he quipped that a lower seed could be preferable.

Kingsbury has one year left on his contract and was recently mentioned for a vacant position at the University of Oklahoma, even though the Sooners never considered him.

Arizona should retain him since he’s had a breakout season. But January is approaching, and any misstep might kill a season and tarnish a reputation.

After all, respect is earned in big games, playoff games.

Ask Matt Stafford. He’s still searching.

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