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Mon, Oct. 14

Fading Arizona? Cardinals have losing record at halfway mark

Arizona Cardinals' Larry Fitzgerald is upended by Carolina Panthers' Kurt Coleman (20) in the second half of an NFL football game in Charlotte, N.C., Sunday, Oct. 30.
Photo by Associated Press.

Arizona Cardinals' Larry Fitzgerald is upended by Carolina Panthers' Kurt Coleman (20) in the second half of an NFL football game in Charlotte, N.C., Sunday, Oct. 30.

TEMPE — After yet another bad trip to Carolina, the Arizona Cardinals have a losing record halfway through their schedule, and a season that was supposed to be so successful is slipping away.

To make matters worse, the Cardinals lost two significant players in Sunday's 30-20 loss — left tackle Jared Veldheer and defensive back Tyrann Mathieu. Veldheer will be placed on injured reserve and is out for the season.

Coach Bruce Arians said Mathieu will be sidelined three-to-six weeks with a shoulder injury.

Several other players are banged up so this week's bye comes at a useful time.

"We will not practice Tuesday and Wednesday," Arians said at his regular Monday news conference. "We'll just do a lot of film work. Physically, we need to rest up. ... We wouldn't have many guys to practice with anyway."

The Cardinals limp into their off week at 3-4-1 after going 13-3 last season

Much of the talk at his news conference was about the referees. He was asked what is contributing to widespread complaints about officiating around the NFL.

"You trying to get me fined?" Arians said. "Yeah, I think it's something that has to be addressed. Now that I've been on a couple of competition committee meeting calls so far, it's always the topic that they're very concerned with. We're all very concerned with it."

The Cardinals were penalized 10 times for 88 yards. He said most were holding calls that could have gone either way. They led to some extra-long down and distances.

"I've never had two third downs where we completed balls for 18 yards or more and didn't make a first down, " Arians said, "didn't even get half of it."

Once Arizona faced second down and 44 to go, a first in his five decades of coaching, Arians said.

The biggest officiating issue came early in the game when Thomas Davis picked up what had been ruled a fumble by Carson Palmer and ran 46 yards for Carolina's first touchdown. Replays clearly showed it should have been ruled an incomplete pass. But Arians said he was told the replay system in the referee's booth upstairs had been shut off because there were problems getting the right feed. So there was nothing to review.

Arians also knew he'd been criticized for not challenging a third down catch by Greg Olsen on the sideline at the Arizona 5-yard line. Replays showed one of Olsen's feet landed out of bounds.

So rather than kick a field goal, the Panthers moved in for another touchdown.

Arians said the ball already had been snapped when his coaches upstairs saw the slow-motion replay that showed Olsen's foot out of bounds.

Asked why he didn't call timeout to allow for a review, Arians said, "There was not enough suspicion. It looked like a catch."

Arians said he thought Palmer, despite being sacked eight times, had "by far" his best game of the season, completing 35 of 46 passes for 363 yards and three touchdowns with one interception that Arians called just bad luck.

Arians also liked the play of running back David Johnson, who passed 100 yards from scrimmage for the eighth game in a row. Johnson rushed for only 24 yards in 10 carries but caught seven passes for 84 yards.

But Arizona was overpowered on both lines of scrimmage most of the day. Now the offensive line must adjust to a new player, John Wetzel, at the all-important left tackle position. Wetzel filled in for then-injured left guard Mike Iupati earlier this season.

Sunday marked the third straight time Arizona made a fruitless trip to Charlotte. The Cardinals lost a playoff game there in 2014 and were blown out there in last year's NFC championship game.

After a few meetings early this week, the players will be off until Monday, when they begin preparation for their Nov. 13 home game against San Francisco.

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