GLENDALE, Ariz. -- There was no denying the gut feeling overtaking Larry Fitzgerald and his Cardinals teammates after Sunday's 23-20 loss to the 49ers at University of Phoenix Stadium.
"It doesn't feel good," Fitzgerald said. "But it doesn't diminish what we were able to accomplish as a unit, as a team. Coach (Bruce) Arians hit it on the head. He said, 'It's just the beginning.'"
Everyone would have left Glendale feeling a little better had the Cardinals beaten the hated 49ers to even their division record at 3-3 and finish the season at 11-5. But the ultimate goal was the playoffs, and that possibility died quickly when the Saints jumped to an early lead and rolled over the Buccaneers 42-17.
The Cardinals insisted they weren't paying any attention.
"It didn't matter," Arians said. "This was the only game that mattered in town."
But the Saints score kept flashing up on the stadium scoreboard, and there was a noticeable lack of energy in the building for long stretches, even when the...