Rapid reactions: Arizona Cardinals weather the elements in win over Bears

Dec 5, 2021, 3:10 PM | Updated: Dec 6, 2021, 7:25 am
Arizona Cardinals running back James Conner (6) carries the ball in the open field as Chicago Bears...

Arizona Cardinals running back James Conner (6) carries the ball in the open field as Chicago Bears inside linebacker Danny Trevathan pursues during the second half of an NFL football game Sunday, Dec. 5, 2021, in Chicago. (AP Photo/David Banks)

(AP Photo/David Banks)

Cold, wet, rainy and winning.

That about sums up the Arizona Cardinals’ 33-22 win over the Chicago Bears on Sunday.

It was a game of opportunity for Arizona, which utilized numerous turnovers and short field position to get out of the Chicago with win No. 10.

Arizona Sports’ hosts, reporters and editors share their thoughts on the Cardinals’ Week 13 win:

John Gambadoro, co-host of Burns & Gambo: No real rust. Couple fumbles by Kyler Murray but that is actually quite the norm. The Bears were that soft — something my partner Dave Burns kept talking about. Perfect opponent off the bye week. A terrible team with a terrible quarterback. Andy Dalton was the gift that just kept on giving in this game. Interception after interception after interception after interception. Granted, two picks were off receivers’ hands, but Arizona could have easily had another two or three that would have been on Dalton. He was that bad. Thanks to his generosity in this game, Arizona got possessions at the Bears’ 28-yard line and turned it into a touchdown; at the Bears’ 15 and turned that into a touchdown; at the Bears’ 28 and turned it into a field goal; and at the Bears’ 12 and turned that into a touchdown. So count that as 24 points off turnovers.

Kyler was back and he was just fine. He rushed for two touchdowns, he passed for two touchdowns and while his passing yardage was nothing special, it didn’t have the chance to be when Arizona was in short-field situations half the game. Big credit to the Cardinals defense for the four turnovers and the three sacks — they really got after it today — although they did give up a late touchdown to the Bears that made the final score closer than how the game went.

Now it’s on to the Rams and a chance, for all intent and purposes, to wrap up the NFC West. Win that game next Monday and the division is yours. The Rams would be three games behind with four to play and can’t tie with the Cardinals holding the tiebreaker. L.A. would need to win out and have Arizona lose all four remaining games. Not happening. Win next week and Arizona will have a home playoff game.

Vince Marotta, co-host of Bickley & Marotta:

Another road game, another double-digit road win.

The Cardinals stayed perfect on the road, moving their record to 7-0, with a convincing 33-22 win over the Chicago Bears, and it wasn’t as close as that score would indicate.

The recipe was followed again by the Cardinals: got a couple of key turnovers early, turned them into touchdowns and coasted to a win.

Up until Sunday morning, there was still some uncertainty as to whether Kyler Murray and DeAndre Hopkins would make their anticipated returns, but once they stepped on the field, it was like they never left.

Murray opened the scoring with a beautiful 20-yard touchdown pass to Hopkins on 4th-and-2, that was set up by a Jalen Thompson interception.

Then Budda Baker picked off Andy Dalton and returned it 77 yards (he’ll probably get a good amount of ribbing for not scoring), setting up Murray’s nine-yard touchdown run on a 3rd-and-goal.

Murray didn’t put up huge passing numbers, but due to the weather and game conditions, he didn’t need to. But he did become just the second QB in the league this year to have a game with two touchdowns both in the air and on the ground. Hopkins caught only two passes for 36 yards, but again found the end zone. The presence of Murray and Hopkins loomed larger than their stats.

James Conner continues to produce with little fanfare. Connor’s 3rd-down one-handed grab was one of the plays of the year for the Cardinals, but then he broke a tackle and took it 23 yards to the house.

The defense again gave up some yardage on the ground and had trouble, at times, getting Dalton corraled. But it more than made up for that by forcing four turnovers and limiting Chicago to just 6-of-15 on third downs. When teams don’t turn the ball over and have four or more takeaways, they’re now 50-1 over the last five seasons.

It wasn’t all great. I thought Kliff Kingsbury’s play-calling was peculiar at times, but hey, champagne problems, right? The Arizona Cardinals are 10-2 in the first week of December and are returning home with a chance to deliver a death blow to a division opponent next Monday night.

You can’t ask for much more than that.

Dave Burns, co-host of Burns & Gambo: On this memorable journey we’re taking with the Cardinals, there is going to be certain landmark moments; little stops along the way that we’ll remember as significant mileposts. This game was not one of those moments.

The Cards’ win over the Bears was important for the simple fact that Kyler Murray and DeAndre Hopkins were back and fans everywhere were looking for reassurances that their stars on offense would properly re-enter the playoff push. That box was checked; both guys looked as fine as the elements would allow them to look. Beyond that and the four interceptions, there wasn’t a ton to take from this game other than the fact that they won and maintained their spot atop the league.

I’m not for a second suggesting this game was completely insignificant; the Cardinals still have the best record in the league and that matters. But when we look back on the season we’ll talk about other wins (Rams on the road, Browns without Kliff, Seattle without Kyler, next week vs. the Rams) more than this one.

The Cardinals looked a little off the whole game. Penalties. Missed tackles. Missed opportunities for more points. It was the first career win for Kliff Kingsbury after a bye week but for whatever reason, the week off, the weather, the Cards looked sluggish.

In some ways, the game is a reinforcement of the need to get the No. 1 seed in the NFC. Failure to do so might mean a trip to Lambeau in far worse conditions that this game.

Yeah, the Cards won the game against the Bears in these lousy conditions but I don’t think you can plan on four Aaron Rodgers picks. The elements were bothersome and now the importance of avoiding them just became a little clearer.

Kevin Zimmerman, lead editor of ArizonaSports.com: I’m honestly not sure how many takeaways there are from this one. For sure, the Cardinals did winning team things, forcing the Bears and Dalton into turnovers, then capitalizing off those in a huge way. Murray looked good enough from a health perspective to be a danger in the ground game, though we didn’t see him punch the brakes and use too much shiftiness on a wet field — maybe he didn’t need to.

The Cardinals defense does deserve a lot of credit for holding up on the backend especially, showcasing the safety play from Budda Baker and Jalen Thompson throughout. Arizona’s run defense looked sketchy, and on offense, the passing attack — while not needed — didn’t flash a ton. There should be no apologizing from the Cardinals’ end. They looked like a 10-2 team playing against a squad whose head coach is on the hot seat.

Tyler Drake, Cardinals reporter and ArizonaSports.com editor:

Opportunity knocked and knocked some more in a wet and lopsided win by the Cardinals.

It may have been raining but that didn’t stop the defense from coming out with its hair on fire, picking off Andy Dalton a total of four times while adding three sacks in the winning effort. And after a pair of interceptions and stellar play from Budda Baker and Jalen Thompson, I think it’s safe to anoint the safety tandem as the best in the league, though it’s been trending that way for some time.

Maybe it’s just me, but it feels like every time the Cardinals pick up a questionable penalty on defense or special teams, they turn around and make up for it with a turnover. That was the case today, where Dennis Gardeck gave the Bears a new set of downs after roughing the punter. The next play Byron Murphy comes away with an INT.

This was the perfect game for Murray and Hopkins to knock off the rust, too.

With the defense playing stingy, Murray wasn’t overly pressured to produce in his return. He even showed off the health of his ankle with season highs in rushing attempts (10), yards (59) and touchdowns (2). Finding Hopkins for the first touchdown of the afternoon was icing on the cake.

There are only five games left on the docket for Arizona to close out the regular season. Each passing win gets the Cardinals one step closer at that coveted No. 1 seed.

Locking that up not only gives them a first-round bye, it hands the Cardinals indoor matchups the rest of the way. A big advantage at this point of the season.

Next up is a chance at shutting the door on the Los Angeles Rams’ NFC West hopes on Monday Night Football. Buckle up.

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Rapid reactions: Arizona Cardinals weather the elements in win over Bears