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Cardinals Start Slow, Finish Firmly in 31-19 Win at Jaguars

Cardinals win at Jaguars

A first-half that was less than ideal ultimately didn’t stymie the Arizona Cardinals, as Kyler Murray threw for 316 yards and ran in a touchdown to help beat the Jacksonville Jaguars, 31-19, on Sunday.

For a team that has acknowledged consistency is a must, it didn’t appear that way at first. Murray’s scramble were the only points scored up until Cardinals head coach Kliff Kingsbury sent kicker Matt Prater to attempt a 68-yard field goal.

It was a choice that proved to be disastrous and caused both Cardinals fans and FOX Sports’ Gus Johnson to lose their minds; in two completely opposite emotions of course.

Nevertheless, Arizona came out of the second half with the sense that the Jaguars are clearly here to play. It still was not a smooth process for most of the third quarter. Jaguars running back James Robinson found his footing in the third, helping extend the lead on a goal-to-go touchdown run.

Yet, a silver lining throughout the game for Arizona was Jags kicker Josh Lambo. The seventh-year veteran would go on to miss two extra points, following up on his missed field goal attempts in Week 2’s road loss to Denver.

The PAT following Robinson’s score was the small domino effect needed for the Cardinals to finally wake up. Now realizing the situation, the Cardinals would score every following touchdown on the ground. Running back James Conner would finish with two rushing touchdowns despite a meager 43 yards.

And in the air, Murray picked Jacksonville apart, overcoming a first-half interception by finding wide receiver A.J. Green for 112 receiving yards. Christian Kirk would follow suit with 104 yards through the air against a suspect Jaguars secondary.

The Cardinals’ secondary came through in the end; after intercepting first overall pick Trevor Lawrence in the second quarter, cornerback Byron Murphy would do it again. Murphy taking full advantage of a failed flea-flicker for his second career pick-six.

Despite the Jaguars coming close several times, Jacksonville would not score again, the game ending with Lawrence being sacked by linebacker Jordan Hicks.

Consistency in Kicking

Kliff Kingsbury certainly drew some flak for his decision to send out Matt Prater for a failed 68-yard field goal. Not only was it taken to the house by Jamal Agnew, it now stands in history. Agnew’s score is now the third time ever a touchdown has been returned the maximum of 109 yards. Yet, Kingsbury still intends to use Prater in similar situations down the line. 

Prater undoubtedly has a strong leg, but that might be too much to ask of him. Especially when Baltimore’s Justin Tucker needed a friendly bounce for his now-NFL record for 66-yard game-winning field goal Sunday.

Slogging and Scoring

It took until the fourth quarter for Arizona’s offense to follow up on Murray’s score in the first. The Jaguars made sure to hold off Arizona as best as possible but defeat was inevitable. Yet, Arizona will probably find during film study several points where the offense could have blown it up.

And Murray knows with how Arizona’s schedule goes, that a lax start can not happen again. He credited the team’s ability to come back postgame, saying that, “the last two years we would have lost that game for sure.” He clearly believes in this team and wants the fans too as well. The ability to keep up with stronger offenses will put that quote to the test.

Up Next

Now, the season truly begins. The Cardinals play their third road game in four weeks with an early lead on the NFC West at stake. The Los Angeles Rams host Arizona, coming off a major home win over the defending Super Bowl Champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

With Seattle losing for the second week in a row and San Francisco falling at the buzzer Sunday night, an upset over the Rams would be the biggest win of the season to this point.

Cardinals at Rams is on October 4th at SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, California. Kickoff is at 4:05 PM ET on FOX.

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