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Arizona Cardinals end 2012 with a game that mirrored their season

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The season is mercilessly over, but a fun (or painful) offseason begins.

USA TODAY Sports

The Arizona Cardinals lost their season finale 27-13 to the San Francisco 49ers, capping a 5-11 campaign that started 4-0. Watching the game, it actually went almost exactly as the season went.

The season started out 4-0 inexplicably with great defense and timely plays (also known as smoke and mirrors). Then they lost nine straight, picked up a meaningless win over the Detroit Lions and then kept on losing.

The loss to the 49ers looked similar. They took a 6-0 lead and were doing everything right (except scoring touchdowns), much like the 4-0 start. Then the floodgates opened and they gave up 27 unanswered points, much like the nine game losing streak.

Brian Hoyer hooked up with Michael Floyd for a late meaningless touchdown to give the team their first passing score in seven games. That would be the equivalent to the meaningless win over the Lions -- fun, exciting, but ultimately empty.

From there, the season ended with a loss. 5-11 record, 27-13 loss.

Fans can now sigh and relax. The 2012 season is over for the Cardinals. They can now watch the playoffs without the stress of a real rooting interest. What is up next is the start of an interesting offseason. There might be front office and coaching changes, while surely there will be personnel changes. The team secured the seventh pick in the 2013 NFL Draft.

A season that started with so much promise ended terribly. There was so much hope. The game against the Niners? There never was any hope, really. Everyone was waiting for it to fall apart. It did.

Wait until next year! At least that is something Cardinals fans are used to saying.