Win over Seahawks could be growth point for Kyler Murray, Cardinals
GLENDALE, Ariz. — His emotions came out more frequently and definitely more demonstratively.
Kyler Murray threw his hands in the air when running back Kenyan Drake dropped a dump-off pass. The second-year quarterback laid into one of his teammates early on as the Cardinals trailed the Seattle Seahawks by as many as 13 and sunk to his knees when he threw what felt like a back-breaking interception in the fourth quarter.
He smiled when he saw DeAndre Hopkins in single coverage, flexed when he dove for a touchdown to bring Arizona within 27-24 in the third quarter and laughed it up with his teammates on the sidelines.
Then he led Arizona to a 37-34 overtime win over MVP-favorite Russell Wilson.
“These are the games you honestly dream about, growing up watching Sunday Night Football,” Murray said. “To be a part of these games, you got to win, you got to keep winning. I’m super proud of the team, the way we fought, not giving up, no matter the circumstances, keep battling, keep battling.
“Wanting to be the best, you got to beat the best. I think that was a big, big step for us.”
It could be a seminal moment in his career as the second-year quarterback completed 34-of-48 passes for 360 yards, three touchdowns and an interception.
Murray also led Arizona with 67 rushing yards on 14 carries.
Meanwhile, Wilson had his star moments while throwing for 388 yards and three scores at State Farm Stadium, but three interceptions killed Seattle during its first loss in six games.
Murray joins Tom Brady as the only signal-callers to throw three or more touchdowns and overcome a double-digit, fourth-quarter deficit against Wilson — Brady did so in Super Bowl XLIX at then-University of Phoenix Stadium.
Between Murray and Wilson, Sunday marked the first time in NFL history two quarterbacks each passed for more than 300 yards and rushed for 50 more.
Arizona head coach Kliff Kingsbury said Murray’s competitiveness came out after the Cardinals, with nearly three minutes left in overtime and on 2nd-and-15, opted to attempt a 41-yard game-winning field goal that was missed by Zane Gonzalez.
“Super competitive, he had that look in his eyes the whole game,” Kingsbury said of Murray. “I mean, he told me, he said, basically, ‘Don’t ever be conservative again. I got you.’ And he went out there and won it in the end. Any time you’re going toe-to-toe with a guy like Russell Wilson, I know that meant a lot to him.”
For Arizona (5-2) as a whole, the growth of its young quarterback wasn’t the only thing that stood out.
It’s that his emotions and fight came out in his teammates.
The Cardinals trailed 27-17 in the first half and gave up 377 yards — the most of any team in a half this year — to 216 of their own. The Seahawks only gained 154 more on 4.4 yards per play in the second half, and Wilson threw for just 75 yards in the third and fourth quarters as Arizona forced overtime.
Defensive contributions helped Arizona even though the Cardinals were hit hard on the injury front.
They lost starting defensive ends Zach Allen and then Jordan Phillips. Budda Baker and Dre Kirkpatrick lost snaps due to injuries before returning.
Linebacker Jordan Hicks left before the final defensive possession for unknown reasons and was replaced by Tanner Vallejo, who made key stops that helped push the Seahawks off the field, setting up Gonzalez’s 48-yard field goal that forced overtime with a 34-34 score.
Defensive coordinator Vance Joseph, who Kingsbury credited for listening to his players in making halftime adjustments, made several aggressive calls despite the personnel changes.
Nickel Byron Murphy blitzed off the edge unblocked for a sack on third down of Seattle’s first overtime possession, setting up Gonzalez’s missed field goal.
The next possession for Seattle — on another third down — it appeared that Arizona was bringing the house on Wilson, but three inside linebackers and outside backer Kylie Fitts dropped into coverage. Wilson lofted a ball that was intercepted by little-used rookie Isaiah Simmons to set up the game-winning drive.
What did the Cardinals learn?
“It’s great for the young guys on this football team to know what it takes to continue to dig down deep while you’re in games, because you’re never out of it,” Arizona cornerback Patrick Peterson said. “Today gave us that confidence and that will power to know that we can do anything possible once we put our minds to it.”