In less than a week, Kyler Murray and the Arizona Cardinals pulled off two incredible showings on a national stage. The Cardinals entered Sunday’s matchup against the Seattle Seahawks, riding high from their Monday night thrashing of the Dallas Cowboys. Seattle held the early lead but the Cardinals did not quit and forced overtime in the waning moments of the fourth quarter. Today we’re taking a look back at the exciting finish and how Murray and the Cardinals cemented themselves as a contender in the fierce NFC West.
Big Bounce Murray
Against the Dallas Cowboys, quarterback Kyler Murray struggled with his accuracy for much of the game. Murray bounced back in a big way on Sunday against the Seahawks. The Cardinals offense exploded for 519 yards with 360 of them coming through the air. Murray also finished with 34 completions out of 48 attempts, three touchdowns, and an interception. In their first duel held on the national stage, Murray kept pace with Seattle’s Russell Wilson, the player many have as the front-runner as the league’s most valuable player. When Wilson started the aerial assault, Murray tossed the ball around the field and diced up the Seattle defense. Not to be outdone by Wilson’s ground contributions, Murray added another rushing touchdown and 67 yards on the ground.
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Murray shined when the lights were brightest. Arizona trailed by 10 with just over six minutes remaining in the game. Murray led the Cardinals on a 72-yard scoring drive to cut the deficit to a field goal. Following a Seattle punt, the Arizona offense took over at their own 20-yard line and 52 seconds remaining. Murray quickly moved the ball into range for Zane Gonzalez‘s game-tying field goal. Overtime was no different for Murray and the offense. The second-year quarterback twice moved the Cardinals down the field and in range for a game-winning field goal. Gonzalez missed the first attempt before the Arizona defense forced another turnover. Murray calmly led the offense back into field goal range where Gonzalez did not miss his second attempt. In a duel between the veteran star and the newcomer, Murray did more than hold his own.
KYLER MURRAY IS A CHEAT CODE 🎮pic.twitter.com/XULnzhsx7a
— PFF (@PFF) October 26, 2020
Rise Up Defense
It is difficult to heap praise on a defense when they allow 572 yards of total offense. However, it wasn’t about how they started or played through most of the game. Instead, we’re focusing on how the Arizona defense finished the game. They did quite a great job at that. The first half was an exercise in futility for Vance Joseph‘s group. Seattle scored 27 points and racked up a touch more than 350 yards of total offense. Wilson and the passing game led the way as Seattle had nine completions of at least 15 yards. It could have been much worse if not for a Budda Baker interception at the goal line which nearly resulted in a 98-yard defense touchdown. While the Arizona offense failed to capitalize off the turnover, failing on their fourth-and-goal attempt, the Cardinals defense seemed to turn the corner after the play.
ISAIAH SIMMONS. INTERCEPTED.
— NFL (@NFL) October 26, 2020
In the second half, including the overtime period, Seattle added a lone touchdown and just shy of 250 yards of offense. Seattle’s second-half touchdown was set up by a Kyler Murray interception in Arizona territory. Outside of that score, Seattle’s second-half drives included three punts and two interceptions. Joseph dialed up the pressure packages as he attempted to slow down Seattle’s offense. As the Arizona offense mounted their comeback, the defense held the line. Following the Seattle touchdown, the Seahawks gained just 46 yards over three game’s final three possessions. The embattled rookie linebacker, Isaiah Simmons, found himself on the field for the final minutes on defense. Simmons rewarded Joseph’s decision with an athletic interception of Wilson, the turnover that gave Arizona their chance to get the winning score.
The Cardinals entered Sunday’s clash as the obvious underdogs. While they had played well up to that point, Arizona hadn’t faced the type of competition that would command respect across the league. Throw in a young team facing a division rival with a quarterback playing at an amazingly high level, it could be understood if expectations were tempered. Arizona fell behind early and looked like a team not quite ready for the bright lights and big moments. However, the Cardinals showed their ability to fight as they battled back from four, double-digit deficits. Offensively, the Cardinals answered the bell and got going in the fourth quarter. Many of the issues were unforced and the Cardinals were up to the challenge to correct their mistakes. Defensively, Vance Joseph’s unit kept the Cardinals in the game and eventually presented the offense with the chance to win it in overtime.
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Where last season’s team would have likely surrendered and let the game get away, the 2020 Cardinals truly believe they are the best team on the field and fight to the bitter end. It speaks to the level of belief that begins with head coach Kliff Kingsbury, all the way down to the bottom of the roster. Kingsbury’s team gets better at each step and is beginning to walk with a well deserved swagger. This was the biggest victory of the Kingsbury era and the biggest for the franchise in a few seasons. The Cardinals made big plays when it mattered most and showed the toughness of a real contender.
— NFL (@NFL) October 26, 2020
The victory on Sunday night put the Cardinals at second place in the ultracompetitive NFC West. Arizona’s pair of division wins serve as the tiebreaker with Los Angeles. The victory also puts Arizona at a half-game out of first place in the division and in contention for the top seed of the conference. However, there remains an entire second half of the season to complete before the thoughts of seeding can be a concern. Arizona put themselves on the map with a duo of impressive victories over the past week. The Cardinals must not lose sight of what is directly in front of them, a chance of rest with a bye week then the final nine weeks of the regular season.
– Ryan Adverderada is the Managing Editor for Full Press Coverage Cardinals and covers the San Francisco 49ers for Full Press Coverage. Like and follow on Follow @ryanadverderada