Cardinals respond to Jaguars’ upset threat, move to 3-0

Sep 26, 2021, 1:07 PM | Updated: 1:22 pm
Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray (1) scrambles way from Jacksonville Jaguars defensive en...

Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray (1) scrambles way from Jacksonville Jaguars defensive end Dawuane Smoot (91) during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Sept. 26, 2021, in Jacksonville, Fla. (AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack)

(AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack)

After jumping on the Jacksonville Jaguars but then squandering opportunities to lay it on in the first half, the Arizona Cardinals responded in the final 30 minutes of their Week 3 battle Sunday to remain unbeaten with a 31-19 road victory.

Arizona scored 24 second-half points after entering halftime down 13-7 and then having quarterback Kyler Murray’s deep ball picked off on the first possession of the third quarter.

The Cardinals responded by scoring on their next three possessions: hitting a field goal and then having running back James Conner finish off two 65-plus yard drives with rushing scores.

After the Prater field goal pulled Arizona within 13-10, Jacksonville took its largest lead of the day via a 75-yard drive that put it up 19-10 on a James Robinson touchdown run with 3:37 left in the third quarter.

In between the Conner runs, Arizona cornerback Byron Murphy picked off Jaguars rookie quarterback Trevor Lawrence on a flea-flicker pass downfield, returning it 29 yards for a pick-six.

That put Arizona ahead for good, 24-19, with less than a minute remaining in the third quarter.

The Cardinals’ win made them 3-0 for the first time to start a season since 2015, when they reached the NFC Championship game.

Murray went 28-of-34 on the day for 316 yards, an interception and a rushing score. Receiver Christian Kirk was his favorite target, making seven catches for 104 yards.

Fellow wideout A.J. Green had his best game yet as an Arizona player, making five catches for 112 yards.

Though the Cardinals tallied three sacks on Lawrence, they put the pressure on the quarterback throughout the day by forcing two interceptions and a fumble in the fourth quarter, when Jaguars running back James Robinson was pushed into Lawrence on a turnover recovered by the Cardinals’ Chandler Jones.

Lawrence, the rookie and No. 1 overall pick, went 22-of-33 for 219 yards, a touchdown and two interceptions.

The first half was a different story, with Jacksonville showing some fight.

Arizona went 0-for-4 on third-down tries and struggled in the run game. Additionally, a 68-yard field goal attempt by kicker Matt Prater — who a week prior hit a 62-yarder for a franchise record — was returned by Jacksonville’s Jamal Agnew for 109 yards at the very end of the first half to put Jacksonville ahead, 13-7.

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