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Rapid Reactions: Kyler Murray throws 3 INTs, Cardinals lose to Lions

Kyler Murray #1 of the Arizona Cardinals breaks a tackle in his own end zone by Romeo Okwara #95 of the Detroit Lions during the fourth quarter at State Farm Stadium on September 27, 2020 in Glendale, Arizona. Lions won 26-23. (Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images)

With three very winnable games ahead of the Arizona Cardinals after two wins to open the season, it was possible to envision a potential 5-0 start for them.

But Sunday was a quick reality check for the work they have left to do this season after a 26-23 loss to the Detroit Lions.

Kyler Murray threw three interceptions, two of which appeared to be poor decisions by the second-year quarterback. That put the defense in a few tough spots, and that unit themselves had a down week compared to the first eight quarters of the season.

Arizona Sports hosts, reporters and editors give their thoughts on the loss.

Doug Franz, co-host of Doug & Wolf

The Cardinals are playing a last place schedule, which creates two games that are “easier” than anyone else in the division has on their schedule. Those two games are at home against Detroit and on the road at Carolina. The Cardinals are 0-1 in gift games.

One of the main reasons the Cardinals lost is because Kyler Murray looked like a second-year quarterback. I’m not terribly concerned because every quarterback has a bad game and I don’t see that happening very often. However, he played so poorly it made winning very difficult.

The other reason why the Cardinals lost is the defense. For two games, Campbell has shut down tight ends. For some reason I’ll never know, defensive coordinator Vance Joseph decided to dust off the 2019 play book of defending TEs. It worked as well as it did last year.

Kyler will learn from this. It seems obvious that Vance Joseph will not.

John Gambadoro, co-host of Burns & Gambo

Look, this is simple: Kyler wasn’t good today. He can’t throw three interceptions (should have been four) and expect to win. He can’t give Detroit short fields and expect the defense to hold every time.

I actually thought the defense did very well in holding the Lions to field goals in the second half when they took over at the Cardinals 22-yard line after a Murray interception and at the Cardinals’ 36-yard line after a punt return. But in the end, it was the Lions who were able to milk the final 4:49 of the clock and kick the game-winning field goal while the Cards offense could only watch.

That Cards offense had their chance with 6:38 left but was unable to do anything and punted the ball back to Detroit. This was always a dangerous game because 0-2 teams are desperate and because Detroit has offensive weapons. There should be some blame on the secondary for their play on the game-winning drive: Byron Murphy who had a pass interference penalty and gave up a 12-yard pass play to Kenny Golladay. Cariel Brooks, who gave up a big 20-yard completion to Marvin Jones. And Patrick Peterson, who got beat by Jones for 20 yards. When the Cardinals defense needed a takeaway, they couldn’t get it. Matthew Stafford was 4-for-4 on the final drive and didn’t throw a pick in the game.

Did Arizona overlook Detroit? No. Did they get too big for their britches after a 2-0 start? No. The Cardinals will play in a bunch of close games this year and you are not going to win them all, especially when your QB has a lousy game. Put this one on Kyler.

Vince Marotta, co-host of Bickley & Marotta

After getting off to the franchise’s first 2-0 start since 2015, the Arizona Cardinals did a fantastic job of saying all the right things leading into their Week 3 home game against the Detroit Lions.

That’s all they did well.

The Lions, a team with a head coach on the thinnest of ice after losing 11 straight games, including four in a row in which they held a double-digit lead, get to leave Arizona with a 26-23 win.

The sad part for the Cardinals is, Detroit’s win wasn’t fluky. The Lions were the better team for 60 minutes.

The Cardinals, curiously, relied on the pass against an opponent that had been a sieve defensively against the run.

Kyler Murray threw two touchdown passes and ran for another, but also threw three picks. This was easily one of the worst, if not the worst, start of his young career.

Two of the three picks were instances where it looked like Murray just didn’t see defenders. He had another ill-advised pass that should have been picked, but it was dropped by a Detroit defender.

Murray had been a menace with his legs in the first two games of the season, but he appeared hesitant to scramble when under pressure. He failed to get Larry Fitzgerald involved in the game despite not having Christian Kirk in uniform. Fitzgerald was targeted three times and caught one pass for zero yards.

DeAndre Hopkins was a force again, with 10 catches for 137 yards, but was not a factor on the most crucial possession of the game. After Matt Prater tied the game at 23-23 for Detroit with a 35-yard field goal with 6:49 left, the game was winnable. On first down, Murray found Hopkins on a 12-yard completion. On the next play, Kenyan Drake uncorked a 14-yard run and the Cardinals were in business at midfield. Another Drake run got a yard, then Murray strangely targeted KeeSean Johnson on consecutive plays, including one on a nice back-shoulder throw that looked like a drop by Johnson, who was seeing his first action of the year.

The Cardinals had to punt, and the Lions were able to expertly use the clock and kick a walk-off field goal.

Head coach Kliff Kingsbury, again, talked about his “suspect play-calling” after the game, a postgame ritual that’s noble, but all-too-frequent. There was a sequence when the Cardinals looked like they were getting “cute” with the ball in their hands.

The concerns are not all related to the quarterback and the offense. Arizona’s defense failed to make plays. Yes, they were good on third downs, and yes, they got to Matthew Stafford four times today. But they once again failed to intercept a pass; they have seven picks in 19 games under Vance Joseph’s tutelage. Chandler Jones has been completely neutralized through three games. Patrick Peterson looks like a shell of his former self, seemingly always a few steps away from the receiver he’s covering. Another safety went down with an injury, and with Budda Baker looking at thumb surgery, that position room is a real weakness.

This loss is a bad one, but could serve as a dose of reality moving into a stretch of three straight road games that looks manageable.

Dave Burns, co-host of Burns & Gambo

Nobody said it would be easy. And nobody ever suggested it would be perfect. I did, however, think the Cards would manage a winless Lions team at home and improve to 3-0. They didn’t and the big lesson here is that the growth curve of a young quarterback is hardly a constant. It bends and breaks, rises and falls, twists and turns. It was particularly revealing just how emphatic Kliff Kingsbury insisted that this loss was on him. While taking the blame is standard operating procedure for many coaches, it almost felt like a shield for Kyler Murray. The turnovers weren’t Kyler’s fault, they were Kliff’s; at least that’s the vibe I got on the Zoom meeting postgame.

The reality is that Murray had a wildly uneven day. By my math, on the three touchdown drives, Kyler was 15-of-16 for 168 yards, two passing touchdowns and one rushing touchdown. The rest of the time, Murray was 8-for-19, for 102 yards and three interceptions. The three picks led directly to 10 Lions points.

It was nice to see Andy Isabella involved to the tune of two touchdown catches. DeAndre Hopkins was a monster. The touchdown run by Murray looked like an ankle-breaking killer crossover dribble at the top of the key in the NBA. But there was too much KeeSean Johnson, not enough Larry Fitzgerald for my taste (something else Kingsbury took the blame for). It’s further proof of how dependent a team is on their quarterback. If Kyler is just a little better they probably win this game and consider themselves lucky to do so.

Defensively, it was a mixed bag as well. When faced with defending a short field the Cards defense rose to the task. But the mushy soft resistance at the end of both halves was brutal. Those two drives combined yielded 16 plays, 145 yards and 10 points. At the end of the first half alone the Lions gobbled up 75 yards in under a minute and a half. A quick cleanup is needed on both sides of the aisle to take advantage of two winnable games the next two weeks on the road.

Luke Lapinski, host of The Rundown with Luke Lapinski and Cardinals reporter

If we’re being honest, I’m about done watching the Cardinals play the Lions. It seems like they meet them every year and — at least recently — they get bogged down and perform well below their potential every time. Today they saw their 2-0 record and a ton of growing optimism evaporate at the hands of a Detroit team that had one win in the last 12 months. Not exactly my definition of fun.

As it turns out, Arizona was probably fortunate to even be in this game at the end. A missed extra point and a minus-three turnover ratio aren’t typically a recipe for success. Kyler Murray got outplayed by Matthew Stafford, Larry Fitzgerald was barely involved and — for all the defense is doing well this season — the secondary looked beat up as this game wore on.

On the bright side, the Cardinals shouldn’t lose the QB battle very often, and they were still tied at the two-minute warning today anyway. Andy Isabella stepped up and suddenly looks like yet another potential weapon in this offense now. And that touchdown run by Murray in the second quarter was flat out absurd. if you’re feeling down about this game, just go watch that play eight more times. You’ll feel a little better.

Maybe this turns out to be a wakeup call for a relatively young Arizona team that was hearing a lot about how great they are this week. If that ends up being the case, it’s a significant silver lining in the bigger picture. But they need to win these next two games now, and they’ll likely have to do that without Budda Baker — at least next week in Carolina.

Kellan Olson, editor and reporter for ArizonaSports.com

With how disciplined Kyler Murray was in his rookie year, it was hard to think that he could potentially lose games for the Cardinals this year. Unfortunately, though, that’s what happened Sunday.

Murray’s feel for the field just wasn’t there against the Lions defense, as evidenced by the interceptions. The defense was already performing worse than the last two weeks, so giving Detroit great field position a few times was not going to cut it. Murray also wasn’t getting free on scrambles as often, where he can make up for a handful of bad plays. That part of his game being bottled up reeks of a guy who wasn’t confident in the way he was reading the defense.

There were no turnovers forced by the defense, no big special teams plays and nothing established all that much by the run game. So if those three things happen when Murray doesn’t have it, the Cardinals are going to have almost no shot in any game, even against a team as bad as the Lions.

Kevin Zimmerman, editor and reporter for ArizonaSports.com

We’re three games in and still waiting for the Cardinals to put together something close to a mistake-free game. It seemed that Lions coach Matt Patricia and defensive coordinator Cory Undlin got the best of Arizona coach Kliff Kingsbury, who didn’t have the counters to blow open big plays for the Cardinals offense. Play-calling or otherwise, Kyler Murray found himself unable to shake loose with his legs and thus throwing into busy zones too often.

Going back over the play-by-play and looking at the field position given up by Arizona’s offense, the Cardinals defense probably deserves a little more credit than it will get by allowing three field goals in the second half. Not that they should allow a five-minute long drive when it counts most, but still.

Now things get interesting for Arizona. Did the Lions find a formula to keep Murray’s rushing abilities in check? And how many other NFL teams have the personnel to pull the same thing off?

In terms of either decision-making and missed throws, Murray didn’t have it. That’s going to happen. How he responds after taking the loss against a team that hadn’t won in the last 11 games will be the thing to watch.


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