I mistakenly reported that HARD KNOCKS IN SEASON would return on December 7, 2022. The week of December 7th was a “by-week” for the Arizona Cardinals. The rest period was welcomed by the struggling franchise; injuries and scandals amongst the coaching staff have been detrimental to the Cardinals’ 2022-2023 season. Making the playoffs is beyond wishful thinking and this week the Cards are up against the legendary Patriots. The Patriots are no longer the Patriots of old, however, the New Englanders are still a formidable foe.
A meeting amongst the players and coaches is yet again a valiant attempt to raise spirits. There is no question that the Cards have the heart to play great football. But the hard truth is that there are other non-injury-plagued teams with heart and more talent. A montage of meetings featuring Coach Kingsbury, the offensive coordinator, defensive coordinator, and special teams coach cements the Cards’ respect for Bill Belichick’s team. Several Cardinals players add anecdotes of interacting with Coach Belichick after games, just to acknowledge the coach widely considered to be the greatest in NFL history. Kingsbury was once an NFL player and was on Belichick’s roster at one point, earning a Super Bowl ring. Kingsbury was injured during the Superbowl but gained vast knowledge under the Patriot coach’s tutelage.
Before HBO Sports takes us to the matchup against The Patriots, we are introduced to wide receiver Deandre Hopkin’s (pictured) mother, Sabrina. Twenty years ago, Sabrina was a victim of domestic violence. Sabrina did not know the man she was dating was in a relationship with another woman, and that woman doused her face with an acidic concoction that was nearly fatal. Her then-boyfriend dropped her off at a gas station and workers called paramedics. Sabrina is permanently blind, and an adolescent Deandre used this tragedy as motivation to find an occupation that would allow him to make his mother’s life as comfortable as possible. A two-year, $54 million contract (or any money for that matter), will not erase the past trauma nor restore Sabrina’s sight. However, she is comfortable and is extremely proud of her son.
Gameday. The Cards fell to the Patriots 27-13. Kyler Murray is injured (again); after three snaps in the game, Murray scrambled on a play and managed to tear his ACL. Murray is out for the season and will receive surgery after Christmas. The Cardinals have lost five games by a single score, and the Patriots managed to win by two possessions. The action was back-and-forth, however, the Pats defense ultimately shut down most efforts of the Cardinals in the 4th quarter.
It is true that a single play can change the trajectory of a season. For the Cards, there is too little time left in the season and the injuries are perpetual. HARD KNOCKS IN SEASON returns December 21, 2022, at 10 PM ET on HBO.