Rapid reactions: Cardinals end home losing skid with TNF win over Saints

Oct 20, 2022, 9:00 PM | Updated: Oct 21, 2022, 2:01 am

Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Greg Dortch (#83) is lifted up by his teammates after scoring a tou...

Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Greg Dortch (#83) is lifted up by his teammates after scoring a touchdown vs. the New Orleans Saints in a 42-34 win on Thursday Night Football at State Farm Stadium in Glendale, Arizona, on Oct. 20, 2022. (Arizona Sports Photo/Jeremy Schnell)

(Arizona Sports Photo/Jeremy Schnell)

The Arizona Cardinals finally broke their eight-game losing streak at home on Thursday Night Football at State Farm Stadium.

The Cardinals defeated the New Orleans Saints, 42-34, marking the first time in the Kliff Kingsbury-Kyler Murray era that Arizona has scored over 40 points.

A couple of breakout performances from wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins and running back Eno Benjamin helped catapult the Cardinals to victory.

Arizona’s defense also scored two touchdowns on a pair of pick-6s from cornerback Marco Wilson and star backer Isaiah Simmons.

Here are our Arizona Sports reporters, editors and hosts reactions to the win over New Orleans:

Vince Marotta, co-host of Bickley & Marotta:

The Cardinals got exactly what they needed on Thursday night — a confidence-building game that ended in a 42-34 win over the New Orleans Saints.

Big kudos first go to the defense, who got pushed around early, first on a touchdown drive and then a 15-play possession that ended with an end zone interception by Antonio Hamilton which seemingly turned the whole tide of the game. That seemed to spark the defense, which then got pick-6s from Marco Wilson and Isaiah Simmons in a span of 64 seconds late in the second quarter.

Outside the turnovers (which again, were all huge), the defense wasn’t great, allowing almost 500 yards to the Saints, who were missing two top receivers and had (let’s be real about it) a marginal backup quarterback in Andy Dalton at the controls.

Having DeAndre Hopkins back was huge, and so was his performance with 10 catches for 103 yards. Things seemed so much easier offensively for the Cardinals with Hopkins on the field, but make no mistake, the offense is not fixed. There was still a ponderous decision to call and throw a fade to 5-foot-7 Rondale Moore near the goal line. There was another errant shotgun snap on first-and-goal at the one that could have been disastrous. There were still three timeouts called to avoid the expiration of the play clock, the second of which, had Kyler Murray about as mad as we’ve seen him as a pro quarterback.

Murray was shown on camera really giving it to Kliff Kingsbury on his way to the sideline and while conversing with him. I’m sure it’ll be chalked up to normal on-field emotion, but it was a little alarming to watch in real time.

The Cardinals, still hampered by running back injuries, got great performances by Eno Benjamin and Keaontay Ingram, who both visited the end zone.

Murray was decent; he cut down on his errant throws from a week ago, although there were a couple this week. He didn’t put the ball in jeopardy with any of his throws, but he did get dinged up a couple times, which is a concern.

Believe it or not, this was the first time the Cardinals have topped the 40-point plateau since 2017, predating the Kingsbury era. And yes, the defense was responsible for two touchdowns. But this was exactly the kind of game that Kingsbury needed too, to quiet a lot of the heat on him after a very disappointing offensive performance for the first six weeks of the year. With 10 days until their next game, maybe Kliff can get out of his own head and get back into a groove as a play-caller.

Dave Burns, co-host of Burns & Gambo:

For the first time in a while, the Cardinals and their fans can just breathe. To call this a much-needed moment undersells the circumstances. A short week, an embattled coach, the lethargic offense, a home losing streak that dated back nearly a calendar year — a loss would have been catastrophic.

Then Andy Dalton happened.

Which is not to say that the Cardinals didn’t do the things we were looking for them to do. But let’s reduce Thursday’s game to its basic truth. Dalton’s end zone interception and the back-to-back-back-breaking pick-sixes were the reason the Cardinals won. And once again, it’s Vance Joesph’s defense that gets the curtain call. Not for the 34 points or the near 500 yards allowed but for the timely plays by Antonio Hamilton (great story), Marco Wilson (gravity defying) and Isaiah Simmons (a blur). Their moments allowed the Cardinals to play from out in front, an unfamiliar position for all.

Maybe it is all the DeAndre Hopkins effect. After all, they were on top of the world when he got hurt last year and they served up the first 40-burger in the Kliff Kingsbury era upon his return. Kyler Murray leaned on him hard, nearly tripling the targets of any other pass catcher on the roster. I still don’t love how addicted this offense seems to be to him. It’s great in the short term but raises some questions, perhaps for another day. Oh and wasn’t it nice to see Hop line up on the left and the right?

You know what else was nice? Watching Eno Benjamin maul dudes to the tune of 16 touches and 113 yards. A run game with Eno and Keontay Ingram combining for 27 touches and 150 yards. Watching Greg Dortch get targets and playing time over AJ Green. I don’t love a quarterback needing to be gently held back from barking at his coach. I’m all for creative tension and understand the “well that’s gonna happen” vibe, but too many more of those and we’ll start to wonder if there is something wrong with the relationship.

Perhaps it was just reflective of what was on the line. The stakes were high and the Cardinals delivered. So today — relax. Smile. Your team is still relevant, and for now, that is more than enough.

Luke Lapinski, co-host of Wolf & Luke:

Maybe the Cardinals’ season just turns around on a Thursday in October every year. That’s the hope at least. It definitely flipped the wrong way last year against Green Bay, so maybe we’ve come full circle.

This was a weird game. I don’t know what the over/under was, but I’m guessing it wasn’t 76 points. The defense stepped up again — but this time it was by scoring two touchdowns, not by stopping New Orleans. And the offense looked better, but far from great. Even Kyler Murray and DeAndre Hopkins didn’t look like they were totally on the same page. Then again, “not totally on the same page” for Hopkins still means 10 catches for 103 yards, so who cares?

Eno Benjamin looks like somebody that better still get the ball a lot when everyone comes back. That’s a good development. But a national audience saw Kyler yelling at his coach. That’s probably not ideal. Then again, maybe it isn’t the worst thing in the world either. It is definitely a reminder of just how much this team is about to be scrutinized nationally when Hard Knocks starts in three weeks though.

The bottom line from tonight: it wasn’t pretty, but the Cardinals finally won something at home and now they go into the weekend just a half-game out of first place with their best offensive weapon back in the lineup. Football is a crazy sport.

Tyler Drake, Cardinals reporter and co-host of the Cardinals Corner podcast:

Defense wins home games in the desert.

The Cardinals proved once again on Thursday night that the unit is not that weak link like many of us thought it was going to be heading into the season. After giving up an opening-drive touchdown, the defense picked up mightily.

After a rocky start to the season, Isaiah Simmons is hitting his stride, highlighted by his incredible pick-six in the first half. Then there’s Marco Wilson, who went from getting burned in coverage early on to recording his first career INT and pick-six. One player who I don’t think will get enough credit is Victor Dimukeje, who lined up opposite Markus Golden to start the game. Despite the prowess of Alvin Kamara and Taysom Hill, Dimukeje hung in and made a couple of key tackles that would have netted chunk plays or worse.

Offensively, there’s still issues to remedy, Hopkins on the field or not. Arizona looked like it was not slowing down one bit heading into the locker room at halftime, but instead came out and put up back-to-back three-and-outs and watched the Saints add a field goal in between. The Cardinals still won by a good margin, but against a more competent team not dealing with a handful of key injuries, that’s the recipe to let the opponent right back into things.

Three players stood out to me offensively for Arizona, Hopkins, Eno Benjamin and Keaontay Ingram. In his first game back from his suspension, the WR did exactly what I expected him to do outside of hitting pay dirt. Good on Kyler Murray to feed him the rock, targeting Hop 14 times throughout the night, equaling 10 catches for 103 yards. As for Ingram, the rookie really showed his ability to be that bruising back on the ground and that shifty pass catcher through the air. And you can’t forget about Eno, who was running like a man possessed and bouncing off defenders like a pinball. James Conner got paid this offseason, but there’s more competition for touches than we think in that RB room and rightfully so.

And last but not least, get Greg Dortch the ball more! Getting only two touches, the wideout still managed to find the end zone.

Kevin Zimmerman, lead editor:

There were few surprises Thursday. DeAndre Hopkins’ presence was as important as we all assumed after the end of last season. He makes Arizona’s offense competent, maybe even good, but it does not address any concerns about why Kliff Kingsbury’s job was in question heading into the game. The offense is bland and operates without rhyme or reason other than picking on matchups. ESPN’s Mina Kimes presented the stat earlier in the day that Kyler Murray’s QBR was the worst in the NFL when considering only what quarterbacks did when they passes three or more seconds after the snap.

The good news: Vance Joseph’s defense continues to create more and more game film that says it is very much real, doing more than enough against a one-dimensional team. And back on the offense, it’s becoming more clear the Cardinals have something at running back other than James Conner. Eno Benjamin’s slippery style and burst in space check out as a high caliber in the NFL, and Keaontay Ingram looks legit in different ways.

Presented By
Western Governors University

Arizona Cardinals

Arizona Cardinal wins the Topham Handicap Chase race on the second day of the Grand National Festiv...

Tyler Drake

High horse: Arizona Cardinal takes home Topham Handicap Chase victory

Given the same namesake as the NFL team, Arizona Cardinal finished first in the Topham Handicap Chase on Friday morning.

2 hours ago

Monti Ossenfort could control the draft if he trades the No.4 pick, NFL Draft insider Matt Miller s...

Bailey Leasure

ESPN’s Miller: It would take a ‘Trey Lance’ trade package to move Cardinals out of No. 4

NFL Draft insider Matt Miller thinks the Arizona Cardinals could control the 2024 NFL Draft if they decide to trade down.

5 hours ago

Presented By...

Arizona Sports Video

Video: Arizona Cardinals in good spot with No. 4 pick in 2024 NFL Draft

The Arizona Cardinals have a lot of leverage when it comes to their No. 4 pick in the 2024 NFL Draft. Burns & Gambo talk about what could be if other teams give GM Monti Ossenfort a call about it.

20 hours ago

Nate Wiggins #DB42 of Clemson participates in the 40-yard dash during the NFL Combine at Lucas Oil ...

Damon Allred

Arizona Cardinals could trade up from No. 27 for a cornerback, ESPN says

After some successful maneuvering a year ago, Cardinals general manager Monti Ossenfort is poised to do the same in the 2024 NFL Draft.

20 hours ago

Darius Robinson makes a tackle...

Tyler Drake

Cardinals address 2 big defensive needs in Mel Kiper Jr.’s 2-round NFL mock draft

The Arizona Cardinals added a pass rusher and a cornerback in ESPN analyst Mel Kiper Jr.'s latest two-round mock NFL Draft.

1 day ago

Marvin Harrison Jr. looks on...

Tyler Drake

Mel Kiper Jr. still has Cardinals landing Marvin Harrison Jr. in latest NFL mock draft

Marvin Harrison Jr. is still the answer for the Cardinals at No. 4 overall following a run of quarterbacks in Mel Kiper's latest mock draft.

2 days ago

Rapid reactions: Cardinals end home losing skid with TNF win over Saints