Comeback win ‘icing on the cake’ for Cardinals’ Kyler Murray in return
Nov 12, 2023, 7:53 PM | Updated: Nov 13, 2023, 10:22 am
GLENDALE — “Maybe that’s why he laughed at me.”
Arizona Cardinals head coach Jonathan Gannon made sure to temper expectations this week when it came to the return of franchise quarterback Kyler Murray, much to the chagrin of the signal caller.
In Sunday’s 25-23 win over the Atlanta Falcons, Murray showed why he shrugged off the head coach downplaying his return with a chuckle.
Making his return from a torn ACL 11 months to the day, Murray not only led the Cardinals to a comeback victory over the Falcons, he also erased a lot of doubt in the process.
“I feel good, just happy to win. After all that, that was all I was worried about was win,” Murray said postgame.
“I just want to win. It feels good to win,” the QB added. “That’s like the icing on the cake. It’d been a (expletive) night to come out here and lose. Kind of like, ‘All this build up for what?’ I’m just happy for us and the team.
When the dust settled on Sunday’s action, Murray had completed 19-of-32 passes (59.4%) for 249 yards and an interception.
But it was his ability on the ground that had a lot of us in the press box saying, “that looks like the Kyler Murray of old.”
The best example of that was Arizona’s final scoring drive of the afternoon that gave them the advantage for good.
Getting the ball with 2:33 left to play at their own 25-yard line, Murray used a combination of his arm and legs to put Arizona in a position to win the game late.
But of the 11 plays over the 70-yard drive, two in particular stand out above the rest.
The first came on the ground on third down, with Murray scrambling his way through defenders and into plus territory for a new set of downs.
Kyler Murray, ladies and gentlemen 🤯 pic.twitter.com/yVmXaQVgn1
— Arizona Cardinals (@AZCardinals) November 13, 2023
The official yardage gained may read 13, but Murray traveled well beyond that to move the chains and keep Arizona in the game.
Per NFL Next Gen Stats, Murray chewed up 68.9 yards on the scramble and reached a top speed of 20.17 mph.
Kyler Murray traveled 68.9 yards on his 13-yard scramble that kept the Cardinals game-winning drive alive. Murray reached a top speed of 20.17 mph, his fastest speed since Week 16, 2021.
— Next Gen Stats (@NextGenStats) November 13, 2023
Then came a final heave to tight end Trey McBride to really seal the deal.
Hoping to give kicker Matt Prater a chip shot instead of a(nother) 50ish-yard try, Murray dropped back to pass before firing a moonshot to McBride, who twisted his way into position to make the 33-yard snag.
Need an example of how much energy the return of Kyler Murray (and James Conner) brought to the #AZCardinals this week?
Look no further:
“We just wanted to play hard for him. He deserves it … and I think we did exactly that.” pic.twitter.com/pS6NKanXwG
— Tyler Drake (@Tdrake4sports) November 13, 2023
“I usually don’t tell (Murray) what to do, but I said, ‘If this guy’s got me man-to-man, I’ve been killing him all game. Just give me a chance.’ And he did exactly that. I ran the route actually a little different than I had all game.
“Kyler launched it a mile in the air and I just had to come back. I was trying to get a (pass interference call) at the least but came back, caught the ball and sealed up the deal. … I’m thankful Kyler gave me a chance on that.”
Prater did the rest from 23 yards out to take home the W.
“He made plays with his legs, made plays with his arm,” Gannon said of Murray. “The last two minutes there, I know the line of gain for a field goal where we’re comfortable and he said, ‘I’m going to get it all the way down there’ and that’s what he did.
“Obviously, a jolt of energy and belief within our team. That’s why he is who he is. Couldn’t be happier for the guy. Onto Houston.”
The support Cardinals fans gave Murray throughout his rehab and this past week wasn’t lost on the QB:
“I can’t thank the fans enough,” Murray said. “I really felt all the support this week, whether it was messages or just seeing people on the road anywhere.
“Just a lot of love this week and I appreciate it.”
#AZCardinals QB Kyler Murray’s message to the fans:
“I can’t thank the fans enough. I really felt all the support this week, whether it was messages or just seeing people on the road anywhere.
“Just a lot of love this week and I appreciate it.” pic.twitter.com/KQ6HUrO0Su
— Tyler Drake (@Tdrake4sports) November 13, 2023
Still “emotionless,” K1?
During Murray’s press conference this week, the QB said he was “emotionless” and wasn’t trying to get too high or too low knowing he was in line to start for the first time in 11 months.
But come game day, that feeling wasn’t quite the same (naturally).
“Throughout the week I tried to stay calm, cool and collected,” Murray said. “As it got closer (on Sunday), I woke up early and went home. I had a lot of time at the house before driving to the stadium. The (expletive) in your chest starts to build up and I’m trying to calm it down because we’ve got to play a game and can’t be too amped up, but it was kind of inevitable.
“I thought I did a good job with not really letting the emotions and everything get to me throughout this week. Obviously, it’s been a big week but at the end of the day, I was just trying to come out here and get a win. That was the mindset.”