San Francisco 49ers' Brandon Aiyuk (11) is tackled after making a catch by Los Angeles Chargers' Derwin James Jr. (3) in the first quarter at Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara, Calif., on Sunday, Nov. 13, 2022. (Nhat V. Meyer/Bay Area News Group)

The debut episode of the HBO series “Hard Knocks In Season: The Arizona Cardinals” shows quarterback Kyler Murray walking off the field in defeat following a 34-26 loss to the Minnesota Vikings in Week 8.

Cameras followed every step as he trudged by himself to the postgame locker room, uttering a profanity before arriving at his locker and slamming his helmet to the ground.

The following day, coach Kliff Kingsbury outlines the task ahead for the Cardinals, a team hoping to take things to the next level after a one-and-done playoff appearance in 2021. On the big screen in the meeting room are the next three games — home against Seattle, in Los Angeles against the Rams and finally against the 49ers on Monday night in Mexico City.

“We’ve got no wiggle room,” Kingsbury said between profanities. “We win the next two we can be playing for first place on Monday night  . . . no more time to (bleep) around.”

As it turned out, the Cardinals lost to Seattle 31-21 to plunge further into desperation, a game in which Murray tweaked a hamstring just before halftime. Safety Budda Baker, portrayed as the beating heart of the Arizona defense, was hobbling at the finish with an ankle sprain.

So getting to the top of the NFC West of the division against the 49ers is out of the question with the Cardinals at 4-6. They’re behind both the Seahawks (6-4) and 49ers (5-4) even after a 27-17 road win against the Rams with backup Colt McCoy at quarterback.

Last season, the Cardinals beat the 49ers twice before Week 9, once with Trey Lance at quarterback and a second time against Jimmy Garoppolo. Arizona started 7-0 before fading to 11-6 and barely putting up a struggle in a playoff loss to the Rams.

The schedule went the other way this season, with the 49ers and Cardinals meeting for the first time Monday night and again in the regular-season finale at Levi’s Stadium.

The Cardinals remain in contention but can’t afford many more losses, particularly against a formidable division opponent. The hope is the win over the fading Rams provided the necessary spark.

“We don’t know if this was the turn of the tide,” Arizona cornerback Antonio Hamilton told reporters Monday. “We started out last year 7-0, and then we dropped off tremendously. Maybe the tide has shifted where we start off rough and this is where we hit our streak and …read more

Source:: The Mercury News


Focus on Cardinals: Arizona grasps for relevance ahead of Mexico City showdown with 49ers

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