ARIZONA CARDINALS

Before Panthers turned up pressure, Kyler Murray had Cardinals cooking

Sep 22, 2019, 7:08 PM | Updated: Sep 23, 2019, 10:29 am
Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray (1) throws against the Carolina Panthers during the firs...

Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray (1) throws against the Carolina Panthers during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Sept. 22, 2019, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

(AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

GLENDALE, Ariz. — There was no slow start by the Arizona Cardinals this Sunday.

Their Week 3 matchup against an 0-2 Carolina Panthers team without starting quarterback Cam Newton felt promising for the Cardinals to earn their first win. Less than a quarter in, a potential success story was brewing for an offense hampered by mistakes and red zone issues through an 0-1-1 start to the year.

Before things fell apart in a 38-20 loss at State Farm Stadium, rookie quarterback Kyler Murray led Arizona on a 14-play, 74-yard drive to put a touchdown on the board with 4:30 to play in the first quarter.

The drive had a little bit of everything.

Murray faked a handoff to running back David Johnson and ran around the opposite end on a designed keeper, putting him in an open field against just a single defensive back.

Plays later, he pulled it and ran up a vacated middle of the field for a big gain.

Johnson even burst up the middle for 15 more yards, a sign that maybe his quiet Week 2 wasn’t a harbinger of bad things to come.

And at the Panthers 1-yard line on third down, Arizona brought in two tight ends but split them out wide on the right side of the field with Larry Fitzgerald. They were there to block for Fitzgerald, who caught a screen pass and scored.

“When we can run the football and mix it up with some play-action and do different things, we’re a lot better,” Cardinals coach Kliff Kingsbury said.

Arizona looked promising after one offensive possession, which itself was set up by a Chandler Jones strip-sack of Carolina’s backup quarterback, Kyle Allen.

Less and less, the rest of the afternoon went Arizona’s way.

Murray finished 30-for-43 for 173 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions. On the ground, he led Arizona with eight carries for 69 yards.

He entered the day with only six carries for 17 yards through two games.

On Sunday, his 4.0 yards per pass attempt came as the Panthers remained content to sit back in their zone.

Although Arizona moved the ball well through the first three quarters, Carolina failed to give up big plays — those that had kept the Cardinals in a tie with the Detroit Lions and a loss to the Baltimore Ravens so far this season.

“Even though they were not letting us get behind them, we did whatever we wanted to, pretty much,” Murray said. “Complementary football, we have to be better at it.”

The Cardinals had prepared for this. They expected they’d have to dink-and-dunk their ways to points, and it appeared to be working as Arizona and Carolina traded turns scoring through the third quarter.

But the Panthers led 28-20 heading to the fourth after their running back, Christian McCaffrey, broke up the middle for a 76-yard touchdown. Two plays later, Murray followed by throwing an errant pass — Larry Fitzgerald took the blame for not getting his head turned faster — that was intercepted by the Panthers’ Donte Jackson.

“They don’t believe that you can go seven, eight, nine or 10 plays in a row without making a penalty, without dropping the ball or without doing something wrong to beat yourself,” Fitzgerald said.

From Murray’s first turnover, Carolina needed to go just 22 yards for a touchdown that gave Arizona a two-possession deficit. The Panthers could pin their ears back and blitz Murray for the entire fourth quarter, keeping Arizona from threatening to rally.

Murray finished the evening having taken eight sacks and threw a fourth-quarter pick on a forced pass that didn’t get over a defender.

“Sack numbers can be misleading, but obviously we have to do a better job of keeping him upright,” left guard Justin Pugh said. “I think if we can stay ahead of the chains and not hurt ourselves or put ourselves in bad situations — we were in that whole fourth quarter, second-and-long, third-and-long.”

And for the third week in a row, the Cardinals’ offense was summed up like this: great for a quarter or three, but putrid against the blitz.

Extra points

— Cardinals kicker Zane Gonzalez remained perfect on the season on nine field goal attempts. He hit from 34 and 47 yards out against the Panthers.

— Arizona finished the loss averaging 3.4 yards per play. Though the Cardinals had won time of possession and total plays while going 9-of-17 on third downs, they produced just 248 total yards with a near-even split on runs versus passes.

— Fitzgerald’s five catches for 36 yards brought him five away from passing tight end Tony Gonzalez for second on the NFL’s career receptions list. Gonzalez’s mark, which trails only Jerry Rice’s 1,549, is set at 1,325.

Array
Life Changer Loans

Life Changer Loans
Carolina Panthers tight end Greg Olsen (88) runs as Arizona Cardinals free safety D.J. Swearinger (36) pursues during the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Sept. 22, 2019, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri) Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Damiere Byrd (14) is hit by Carolina Panthers outside linebacker Shaq Thompson during the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Sept. 22, 2019, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin) Carolina Panthers head coach Ron Rivera, right, greets Arizona Cardinals head coach Kliff Kingsbury after an NFL football game, Sunday, Sept. 22, 2019, in Glendale, Ariz. The Panthers won 38-20. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin) Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray (1) is sacked by Carolina Panthers linebacker Christian Miller (50) during the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Sept. 22, 2019, in Glendale, Ariz. The Panthers won 38-20. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin) Carolina Panthers head coach Ron Rivera greets Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray (1) after an NFL football game, Sunday, Sept. 22, 2019, in Glendale, Ariz. The Panthers won 38-20. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin) Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray (1) greets Carolina Panthers quarterback Kyle Allen (7) after an NFL football game, Sunday, Sept. 22, 2019, in Glendale, Ariz. The Panthers won 38-20. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri) Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray lies on the field after being sacked by Carolina Panthers linebacker Christian Miller (50) during the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Sept. 22, 2019, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri) Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray (1) tackles Carolina Panthers cornerback Donte Jackson (26) after Jackson intercepted Murray's throw during the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Sept. 22, 2019, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin) Arizona Cardinals running back David Johnson (31) scores a touchdown as Carolina Panthers strong safety Eric Reid (25) and outside linebacker Shaq Thompson (54) defend during the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Sept. 22, 2019, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin) Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray (1) throws against the Carolina Panthers during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Sept. 22, 2019, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri) Arizona Cardinals running back David Johnson (31) dives in for the touchdown as Carolina Panthers strong safety Eric Reid (25) and outside linebacker Shaq Thompson (54) defends during the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Sept. 22, 2019, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri) Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray (1) throws against the Carolina Panthers during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Sept. 22, 2019, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin) Carolina Panthers quarterback Kyle Allen (7) throws against the Arizona Cardinals during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Sept. 22, 2019, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin) Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Christian Kirk (13) is hit by Carolina Panthers defensive back Tre Boston (33) during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Sept. 22, 2019, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin) Carolina Panthers wide receiver D.J. Moore (12) celebrates his touchdown against the Arizona Cardinals during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Sept. 22, 2019, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri) Carolina Panthers tight end Greg Olsen (88) can't make the catch against the Arizona Cardinals during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Sept. 22, 2019, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin) Carolina Panthers fullback Alex Armah (40) is hit by Arizona Cardinals linebacker Chandler Jones (55) during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Sept. 22, 2019, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri) Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald (11) is hit by Carolina Panthers defensive back Ross Cockrell during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Sept. 22, 2019, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin) Carolina Panthers head coach Ron Rivera yells during the first half of an NFL football game agains the Arizona Cardinals, Sunday, Sept. 22, 2019, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri) Carolina Panthers quarterback Kyle Allen (7) throws a touchdown pass as Arizona Cardinals center Mason Cole pursues during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Sept. 22, 2019, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin) Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray (1) throws against the Carolina Panthers during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Sept. 22, 2019, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

Arizona Cardinals

DeAndre Hopkins #10 of the Arizona Cardinals reacts after a Cardinals touchdown against the Los Ang...
Tyler Drake

DeAndre Hopkins on Ward’s ‘steroid boy’ rant: ‘I pray for people like that’

DeAndre Hopkins took the high road while also giving a subtle reminder when speaking on Charvarius Ward's postgame rant of the WR on Monday.
10 hours ago
Arizona Cardinals QB Kyler Murray tosses a pass to WR Hollywood Brown on Thursday, Nov. 25, 2022, i...
Tyler Drake

Kliff Kingsbury expects Kyler Murray, Hollywood Brown to play vs. Chargers

For the first time all year, the Cardinals could see the trio of Kyler Murray, DeAndre Hopkins and Hollywood Brown take the field on Sunday.
1 day ago
Byron Murphy Jr. #7 of the Arizona Cardinals breaks up a pass intended for K.J. Osborn #17 of the M...
Arizona Sports

Chargers-Cardinals injury report: Murphy Jr. out, Murray to be active

The Cardinals will not have starting cornerback Byron Murphy Jr. for the third straight game Sunday against the Chargers.
1 day ago
Offensive tackle Kelvin Beachum #68 of the Arizona Cardinals is introduced during the NFL game at S...
Arizona Sports

Kelvin Beachum, Lorenzo Alexander start enrichment series at school in Phoenix

Cardinals right tackle Kelvin Beachum values serving his community and has done so since he signed with Arizona in 2020.
1 day ago
(Arizona Cardinals photo)...
Wills Rice

Kyler Murray unites with fan he inspired during boy’s cancer treatment

Despite not suiting up for Monday's game, Kyler Murray flew Hector Nahle Jr., his parents and sister to Mexico City.
2 days ago
Los Angeles Chargers head coach Brandon Staley stands on the sidelines during the first half of an ...
Arizona Sports

Behind Enemy Lines: Chargers struggling to defend in Year 2 under Staley

Going into Sunday's game at Arizona, the Chargers are ranked 25th in the league in yards allowed per game at 369.
2 days ago
Before Panthers turned up pressure, Kyler Murray had Cardinals cooking