The Arizona Cardinals have already been eliminated from playoff contention, but Wednesday's episode of HBO's Hard Knocks didn't have a somber tone as there were moments worth celebrating during the holiday weekend.
The episode opened with defensive coordinator Vance Joseph highlighting an effort play by star safety Budda Baker, using him as an example for younger players hoping to make an impression in the final weeks of a lost season. Later in the episode, Baker was named to his fourth Pro Bowl.
JJ 🧟♂️ @NoLimitJJ30
<a href="https://twitter.com/buddha?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@Buddha</a> work ethic is crazy, <a href="https://twitter.com/JJWatt?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@JJWatt</a> & him are real leaders of that locker room <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/HardKnocks?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#HardKnocks</a>
Another fun moment was when fourth-year quarterback Trace McSorley was told he'd be making his first career NFL start against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Christmas Night. There was home video of a young McSorley declaring his love for the game of football.
The highlight of the episode of the story of star running back James Conner. As he hosted his mother for Christmas dinner, the two of them reflected on his journey from being diagnosed with Hodgekin's lymphoma to being drafted by the Pittsburgh Steelers. They looked back on videos of his draft day experience in 2017, which was and emotional reminiscence for both of them.
Unfortunately, Arizona suffered a 19-16 loss to Tampa Bay to extend its losing streak to five straight games. McSorley managed just 217 yards, no touchdowns, an interception and two lost fumbles, but he made some highlight-reel throws to keep the Cardinals in the game. Baker suffered a broken shoulder but still played the entire game.
NFL Films @NFLFilms
Left it all out there, broken shoulder and all. ❤️️<a href="https://twitter.com/Buddabaker3?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@Buddabaker3</a> | <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/HardKnocks?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#HardKnocks</a> <a href="https://t.co/DkT0wpsqnJ">pic.twitter.com/DkT0wpsqnJ</a>
Veteran defensive end J.J. Watt had a fun interaction with Bucs quarterback Tom Brady. The revelation that the 33-year-old intends to retire after this year was another big moment in the episode.
"I wish this old man would hold on to the ball a little longer."<br>- <a href="https://twitter.com/JJWatt?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@JJWatt</a> on <a href="https://twitter.com/TomBrady?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@TomBrady</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/HardKnocks?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#HardKnocks</a>
Arizona will carry a 4-11 record into Sunday's game against the Atlanta Falcons. Hard Knocks will be there to document the team's final weeks of the season.