DeAndre Hopkins and even J.J. Watt help Cards offense heat up vs. Titans

Sep 12, 2021, 11:44 AM | Updated: 3:12 pm
Arizona Cardinals wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins (10) is congratulated by Demetrius Harris (86) afte...

Arizona Cardinals wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins (10) is congratulated by Demetrius Harris (86) after Hopkins scored a touchdown against the Tennessee Titans in the first half of an NFL football game Sunday, Sept. 12, 2021, in Nashville, Tenn. (AP Photo/Mark Zaleski)

(AP Photo/Mark Zaleski)

Offensive penalties marred some promise early on for the Arizona Cardinals.

Their defense made up for it, stoning Tennessee Titans running back Derrick Henry for eight rushing yards on nine carries and sacking quarterback Ryan Tannehill three times in the first half, once for a fumble.

But finally, Arizona’s offense got going in the first game of 2021 — and going in a big way en route to a 38-13 win in Tennessee.

It caught fire after Arizona recovered the Tannehill fumble in the first quarter. Holding a 3-0 lead already, Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray found DeAndre Hopkins in the back of the end zone for a tough grab on third down. It was his first of two scores in the first half.

Murray was spot-on, completing 21 of 32 passes for 289 yards and four touchdowns with an interception. He was also extending drives in ways that he only can.

On one play, he was tracked by NextGenStats scrambling43.5 yards behind the line of scrimmage before dropping a dime for a first down.

Murray only rushed five times for 20 yards but added a touchdown on one of those carries.

Hopkins was unsurprisingly the primary target, making six grabs for 86 yards and the two scores, but it was a wide-ranging effort.

Christian Kirk had five catches for 70 yards and two touchdowns, newcomer A.J. Green caught two balls for 25 yards and rookie Rondale Moore made four receptions for 68 yards.

The Cardinals even turned to defensive linemen J.J. Watt and Leki Fotu in a goal line package that allowed Murray to find the end zone with ease from two yards out.

The Cardinals averaged 6.2 yards per play to 3.9 for the Titans, who lost the turnover battle 3-1.

Chandler Jones led the defense with two forced fumbles and five sacks, tying a single-game franchise record with Haason Reddick (2020). And Arizona held 2020 leading rusher Derrick Henry to 58 yards on 17 carries (3.4 yards per rush).

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DeAndre Hopkins and even J.J. Watt help Cards offense heat up vs. Titans