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Cardinals’ Murray and Jones Show Off in Upset Win at Titans

All doubts about withstanding the Titans got laid to rest Sunday, as the Arizona Cardinals thumped Tennessee in Nashville, 38-13.

It didn’t seem initially apparent, with the Cardinals sustaining several offensive penalties in the opening moments. To add insult to injury, Cardinals coach Kliff Kingsbury burned two timeouts before the 8-minute mark of the first quarter.

The coach lamented the awkward start at the postgame press conference, saying the penalties weren’t ideal.

“But I thought we overcame some later, which was huge,” Kingsbury later noted. “But that can’t happen; I mean, it can’t be a repeat of last year.”

However, the defense was prepared to roll and gave Mike Vrabel‘s crew fits all day. Isaiah Simmons led the way with seven tackles and an interception as the mighty Derrick Henry was held to a stunning 58 yards and no touchdowns (the latter part is surprising on its own).

Murray Makes Money Plays

Kyler Murray found his footing as the game progressed, then he began to flourish. In a spectacular 289-yard, five-touchdown performance, Murray connected with both DeAndre Hopkins and Christian Kirk twice through the air, while rushing in a score himself.

Even during non-scoring plays, Murray’s shiftiness and reaction time were on point. During the second quarter, Murray escaped right before scrambling left to deliver a great pass.

“Just trying to make a play,” Murray casually acknowledged postgame. “Guys look to me to make a play, it’s third down, money down, and we got to convert.”

Per Mark Dalton, Murray’s efforts were the sixth time in NFL history that a quarterback threw for four touchdowns and rushed for one. It’s a select club that includes the likes of Tony Romo and Hall of Famer Fran Tarkenton.

The rest of the offense was clicking too, running backs Jame Conner and Chase Edmonds working in unison for a combined 116 yards. Rookie Rondale Moore showed some spunk with 66 yards receiving and 46 yards off return plays.

Jones Rattles Tannehill’s Bones

Chandler Jones came out of the gate without mercy. He preyed upon Titans quarterback Ryan Tannehill, landing five sacks with three in the first quarter alone. On two of those sacks, Jones forced a fumble, including during Tennessee’s opening drive.

Jones also grabbed six tackles in the victory, four of which were for a loss. Perhaps unsurprisingly, Jones is reportedly going to enter Week 2 as the NFC Defensive Player of the Week. If that is the case, it will be the third time he’ll be selected as a Cardinal.

“He was unblockable most of training camp,” Kingsbury said postgame. “To the point where it’s like, ‘Hey, we can only pass when he’s out of the game’ type [of] deal and he was awesome.”

However, it wasn’t only Jones, Simmons had a great day as previously mentioned. The linebacker adding two pass deflections to his nine stops while cornerback Budda Baker followed with eight tackles plus one deflection.

Up Next

The Cardinals come home to Glendale for Week 2’s matchup with the Minnesota Vikings. Patrick Peterson will be in tow following his debut with his new squad at Cincinnati. Peterson made just one tackle in the overtime loss to the Bengals.

Arizona will need to continue its oppressive run defense against Dalvin Cook, who rushed for 61 yards and only one touchdown against Cincinnati.

The Week 2 matchup is on Sunday, September 19, with kickoff scheduled for 4:05 PM ET. The game will be televised on FOX.

 

Featured Image courtesy of Andrew Nelles/Tennessean.com

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