Rapid reactions: Kyler Murray’s return lifts Cardinals to win over Falcons

Nov 12, 2023, 7:33 PM | Updated: Nov 13, 2023, 1:17 am

Cardinals QB Kyler Murray in debut vs. Falcons after ACL injury...

Kyler Murray #1 of the Arizona Cardinals celebrates a touchdown with teammates against the Atlanta Falcons during the second quarter at State Farm Stadium on November 12, 2023 in Glendale, Arizona. (Photo by Mike Christy/Getty Images)

(Photo by Mike Christy/Getty Images)

In Kyler Murray’s first game of the 2023 NFL season, he was nothing short of sensational for the 1-8 Arizona Cardinals.

He found success through the air (249 yards passing) and on the ground (33 yards rushing and a touchdown) and led a drive in the final two minutes that led to a chip shot field goal to set up a Matt Prater chip shot that gave the Cardinals the 25-23 win at home over the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday.

Arizona Sports’ hosts, editors and reporters gave their biggest takeaways after the Cardinals’ second win of the season.

Dave Burns, co-host of Burns & Gambo: There’s a reason why Sunday felt like the opener for the Cardinals. Like it was the start of something rather than the middle. Murray day did not disappoint. Or maybe he did … if you were hoping for a loss, which we’ll get to in a moment.

The season as we know it — the one where we all try to figure out whether this organization will go forward with Murray — started in earnest Sunday afternoon. And if Sunday’s performance is any kind of a guide as to what to expect, there might not be much of a decision to make. Of course, we’re a long way away from any definitive statement about the future.

But man did he look good; like all of the good parts of Kyler we remember. Threw for 249 yards on 32 attempts. Some great. Some not, as evidenced by the interception. Enough of them were good enough. Could have had a touchdown pass to Michael Wilson but video review and Wilson’s knee took it away. Ran for 33 yards and a touchdown. Looked spry and for the most part moved away from pressure the way we’re accustomed to seeing. His scamper on third down on the final drive was the definitive “Kyler is back” moment. You take something like that for granted until it’s taken away

Combined with the efforts of Trey McBride, BJ Ojulari, Prater and the Cards defense on that two-point conversion, it’s possible Murray and the crew disappointed you Sunday. They won. So begins the push and the pull of it all.

Is there a direct correlation between Kyler playing well and winning? There was on Sunday. Is that what we want? It was just one game, perhaps in others, he will play well but it won’t be enough and a great pick will be assured. I would imagine that’s what most Cards fans want (that’s what I want). But if forced to choose between him playing well equating to wins or him playing poorly and it means a better draft pick? I’ll take more days like today thank-you-very-much.

Tyler Drake, Arizona Sports Cardinals reporter and Cardinals Corner co-host: That couldn’t have gone much better for the Cardinals.

Murray made his long-awaited and showed he still has the chops to get the job done 11 months removed from a torn ACL.

Regardless of your feelings on Murray and whether or not you believe he is the Cardinals’ QB of the future, you have to give the dude credit. He scored on the ground and should have had two more touchdowns through the air. Sure, there was some rust (the overthrown TD to Hollywood Brown sticks out) but for the most part, K1 looked like K1.

All three phases played complementary to one another and a big part of that was due to Murray’s return.

And would you look at that! McBride finally put an end to a 100-yard drought that had hung around since 1989 (!) behind eight catches for 131 yards. He continues to look the part these past few weeks and making a whole lot of Cardinals fans forget about Zach Ertz. I will say, though, Dave Burns, John Gambadoro, Dan Bickley and myself would have never lived it down if McBride didn’t reach the century mark after jinxing it early on in the first half. Phew.

The Cardinals’ spot in the draft order undoubtedly took a hit with a win on Sunday, but does anyone really care after what just transpired?

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