Ryan Lindley struggles to find end zone, rhythm in embarrassing loss

It was one of those games teams don’t like to talk about. One of those games that’s rewatched once and forgotten about. Nothing went right. Everything went wrong. But neither one person nor one unit could be blamed for the Arizona Cardinals’ loss. Not Ryan Lindley. Not the defense. Not the running game.

Arizona’s first loss at home this season, on national TV no less, was bad all over.

“I don’t think much of anything really worked,” Fitzgerald said. “We didn’t execute the way we’re capable of doing it, and that’s frustrating.

“We put a lot of time and effort into going out there and executing the plays, and not having it come to fruition is frustrating.”

But it may not matter how quickly Fitzgerald or any of his teammates forget about losing the game that would’ve clinched the NFC West and home-field advantage throughout the postseason — Super Bowl included.

They may have to go through it all again next week.

Arizona’s offense sputtered under Lindley, the third-year quarterback who hasn’t started since 2012. His accuracy was an issue all game. His passes were either too high, too low or too wide. He completed 18 of 44 passes for 216 yards and an interception. His NFL-record streak of pass attempts without a touchdown grew to 225.

“I just wasn’t on target for some of them,” Lindley said. “We see it. “They’re a good defense, but there are places to throw the ball. Tonight, there were some places that I missed. There were some places where they played good defense.”

The Cardinals’ offense didn’t score a touchdown for the second straight game, giving them two in their past five games.

Yet for as wild as Lindley was, he still managed to march the Cardinals into the red zone twice. Both times, however, mistakes doomed potential touchdowns.

After the first of Seattle kicker Steven Hauschka’s three missed field goals, Arizona put together its best drive of the game. Lindley was 3-for-4 for 34 yards with passes of 18 yards to running back Stepfan Taylor and 13 to tight end Rob Housler, which put Arizona at the Seahawks’ 6-yard-line. Two runs by Taylor had Arizona at the 4 on third-and-goal, but a false start by left guard Ted Larsen backed the Cardinals up 5 yards. An incompletion followed, and Arizona had to settle for a field goal.

“Really, it was a miscommunication because the clock was winding down,” Larsen said. “I don’t think it was huge. You can’t have mistakes like that. It’s unacceptable.”

Arizona’s only other points — all 18 in the past two games have come off field goals — came on a 32-yard field goal by Chandler Catanzaro in the third quarter. That drive stalled at the 14.

As he did on Arizona’s other scoring drive, Lindley completed three passes. A 12-yard completion to John Carlson put Arizona at the Seahawks 14, but a fumbled snap by Lindley on third-and-4 forced him into a bad pass, and the Cardinals settled for another field goal to cut Seattle’s lead to 14-6.

For the season, Arizona’s red-zone efficiency is 43.2 percent – fifth worst in the NFL.

“I think we had a shot,” Lindley said. “We had that one nice drive where we got down there. Like I said, we’ll look on film to know for sure, but we just couldn’t punch it in, and that’s going to fall on my shoulders … getting the ball in the right place and the other guys getting the ball in the end zone.”

The pieces may not be picked up until Drew Stanton is healthy enough to play, whether that’s Sunday at San Francisco or sometime in January during the playoffs. Until then, Arizona will continue to rely on Lindley.

“It shows you where we have to go, the kinds of teams that we’re going to have to beat for us to reach our ultimate goal, and that’s playing [in] and winning the Super Bowl,” Fitzgerald said. “We have to be able to beat teams that are this quality, and we have to perform to the best of our ability.”

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