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The 2-0 Cardinals found frustration in resounding victory over Washington

Head coach Kliff Kingsbury of the Arizona Cardinals watches from the sidelines during the second half of the NFL game against the Washington Football Team at State Farm Stadium on September 20, 2020 in Glendale, Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

A fan-less home opener felt like an Arizona Cardinals victory from kickoff on, but the 30-15 win against the Washington Football Team in Week 2 wasn’t viewed in the locker room as good enough to put the NFL world on notice.

It sure didn’t feel from the Cardinals themselves like going 2-0 for the first time since 2015 meant anything.

In fact, quarterback Kyler Murray said the Cardinals found “frustration” in their season debut Sunday at State Farm Stadium.

“I felt like we could have helped the defense out,” said Murray, who threw an early interception but finished with 286 passing yards and a touchdown while rushing for 67 more and two additional scores. “It’s just unfortunate when you don’t put up any points and they’re on the sideline expecting us to put up points … we got to do a better job playing complementary football.

“We left a lot out there. I think that was pretty evident to see. I know we all felt as if we left a lot out there in the locker room, from coaches and players. It’s frustrating at times but at the same time you have to understand it’s Week 2.”

Midway through the third quarter, after a three-and-out on the first possession of the second half, head coach Kliff Kingsbury made an aggressive play with Arizona leading 20-0.

He went to backup quarterback Chris Streveler’s package on 4th-and-1 at the Arizona 25-yard line. Streveler tossed the ball to Christian Kirk on a misdirection triple-option play, and a 3-yard gain led to a first down.

But Murray followed that up with an avoidable intentional grounding on first down and then a delay of game on third.

As the Cardinals punted on 4th-and-26, Kingsbury gathered the entire offense on the bench to reset things.

“We just weren’t what we needed to be,” Kingsbury said. “Kind of came out, we were up big at half and came out and just went through the motions — coaches and players. I made some terrible play-calls there and so I just wanted to let them know, ‘Hey, we’re hurting ourselves, we’re stopping ourselves with the penalties. If we just don’t move backwards, we’ll win this game.”

Arizona could have capitalized more on two of the game’s biggest plays of the first half.

Murray hit receiver Andy Isabella for a 54-yard deep ball to start a drive early in the second quarter. The single play ended up longer than the entire drive after a chop-block penalty on tight end Darrell Daniels killed momentum, and kicker Zane Gonzalez needed a 49-yard field goal to salvage things.

On the next Arizona possession, Murray connected with Christian Kirk, dropping a dime to the receiver who dragged both feet along the sideline. That drive, too, ended in less-than-stellar fashion for the Cardinals, who lost five yards on a false start by center Lamont Gaillard and then another yard on a sack of Murray.

Gonzalez again bailed Arizona out with a field goal to put Arizona up, 20-0.

It very well could have been 28-0 at halftime.

The Arizona defense deserves credit in any case — but no doubt it will be overshadowed by Murray’s touchdown highlights and the chatter about the quarterback’s many weapons. But even the defensive side of the ball sees room for improvement after Washington scored 15 points in the second half and averaged 5.1 yards per rush.

“I don’t think we played as well as we wanted to in the second half. Let them go uptempo on us and get some plays off. That’s something we got to look at on film,” outside linebacker Devon Kennard said.

Postgame, the offensive players especially hinted at the frustration Murray talked about. Kingsbury evaluated Murray’s own game as “a work-in-progress” despite what your eyeballs told you.

“I think you can see we’re not as sharp as we like to see, but he has so much talent he’s able to make incredible plays,” the head coach added.

Hopkins was asked about where the offense is two weeks in and laughed.

“Psh, we got a very high ceiling,” Hopkins said. “There was a lot of stuff that we left out there on the field.”


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