Cardinals’ Kyler Murray knocks off the rust in a hurry in win over Bears

Dec 5, 2021, 11:39 AM | Updated: Dec 6, 2021, 8:22 am
Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray warms up before an NFL football game against the Chicago...

Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray warms up before an NFL football game against the Chicago Bears Sunday, Dec. 5, 2021, in Chicago. (AP Photo/David Banks)

(AP Photo/David Banks)

What rust?

Amid bad weather conditions, Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray didn’t waste much time settling into his first game back from injury in a 33-22 victory over the Chicago Bears on Sunday.

Finishing with 123 yards and four total touchdowns (two through the air and two on the ground) on 11-of-15 passing, Murray navigated Sunday’s wet weather with relative ease. He also set season marks in carries (10) and rushing yards (59).

“It felt good just to be out there moving around being myself, just playing the game I love to play with these guys,” Murray told reporters after the win. “It was fun, glad we got the win. It was great to be back.”

He didn’t have to wait long to make an impact.

Following a Jalen Thompson interception on the Bears’ first drive of the day, the offense was more than opportunistic, converting the turnover into points.

After making up for a sack and a holding call to start the drive, Murray connected with tight end Zach Ertz for nine yards to bring up a manageable fourth down try on Chicago’s 21-yard line.

The signal caller’s first look to his favorite target in Hopkins went about as good as it could have gone, with the duo linking up for a 21-yard touchdown strike to give Arizona its first lead of the afternoon. Entering play Sunday, head coach Kliff Kingsbury was pegged as the best fourth-down decision maker in the league by ESPN.

The score marks the eighth hookup for Murray and Hopkins in nine games played in 2021.

Murray wasn’t done there, either, turning yet another interception into points.

Following a Budda Baker interception, the second of the day for the safety unit, Murray needed just five plays to extend the Cardinals’ lead, scampering nine yards for his second touchdown of the day.

“When he’s feeling it like that and using those legs I think he’s the most dangerous weapon in the NFL,” head coach Kliff Kingsbury told Cardinals sideline reporter Paul Calvisi on 98.7 FM Arizona’s Sports Station after the win. “We just got to get him back comfortable, get him back in a rhythm and gotta try to play at  a really high level the remainder of the season.”

Through Arizona’s first two drives, Murray went 2-for-3 for 30 yards and a passing touchdown to go along with 17 yards and a score on the ground.

He kept the momentum rolling in the second quarter.

Starting in their own territory for the first time all game, the Cardinals went back to work behind Murray and running back James Conner.

After kicking off the drive with a 21-yard run and a two-yard grab, Conner put up a highlight-reel grab to cap off the drive.

Staring at a third-and-two situation, Murray looked Conner’s way once more out of the backfield, with the running back making an impressive one-handed snag before turning upfield for the 23-yard score.

The touchdown marks No. 14 for Conner, good enough for second in the NFL behind only Indianapolis Colts rusher Jonathan Taylor.

“That’s gotta be SportsCenter play of the week, right? That was unbelievable, catches it one-handed, breaks a tackle and then goes for a touchdown. I had to run down there and give him a hug becuase that was insane. A third down, too,” Kingsbury said.

“He’s been just a godsend for us especially with Chase out, being able to shoulder the load offensively, he just keeps getting better and better.”

The three straight scoring drives helped give the Cardinals a 21-7 lead at the half.

From there, Arizona didn’t look back, doing enough to keep the game out of reach over the final 30 minutes of play. A two-yard touchdown run from Murray and a pair of Matt Prater field goals were all that was needed to take home the win.

“The O-line played great today, the run game was great, James was great, Eno was great. Everybody steps up when they need to and that’s the great thing about this team. So far I think we’re very versatile, can’t really put us in a box of what we can do. I feel like we got a lot of playmakers on all sides of the ball and that’s pretty much it,” Murray said.

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