When you look back at the 2013 Arizona Cardinals season it is hard to find too many things to be disappointed about. Of course the fans and the organization were disappointed that the team wasn’t able to make the playoffs, but if that was not a real expectation coming into the season. Finishing the season the way they did in the toughest division in football was seen by most as a successful season. So what is there to be disappointed about when the team exceeded essentially all preseason expectations?
For the Cardinals, their biggest disappointment happened early. Nobody knew at the time just how much of a disappointment it would be. All the way back in week one of the season, the Cardinals entered the fourth quarter holding an 11 point lead over the St. Louis Rams. The Cardinals gave up 14 unanswered points and lost the opener 27-24. The St. Louis Rams were not a very good football team this season and the Cardinals should have found a way to finish off that game. If they had, this years playoffs may have looked a little bit different. Every other team the Cardinals lost to made the playoffs.
The Cardinals would be wise to learn from that game. In the NFL every game truly does count. Heading into the season finale against the 49ers, Cardinals fans were concerned with tie-breakers and conference records. That’s how close the playoff race often gets in the NFL. Had the Cardinals simply not choked in the first game of the season, they would have made the playoffs and finished with an 11-5 record. That would have been the best record the Cardinals have had since moving the Arizona and their best mark since the 1975 season.
It is a testament to just how good of a season this Cardinals team had that I had to go all the way back to week one to find a big enough disappointment worth writing about. This team has had a storybook turnaround so far under new general manager Steve Keim and new head coach Bruce Arians. I know that Cardinals fans are chomping at the bit to get back to training camp and see what the future holds for the Redbirds.
Jay Feely’s missed field goal in that game didn’t help either.