The Arizona Cardinals haven’t done enough in recent years to deserve the benefit of the doubt. So, when they were down 10 points with about three minutes left in the game to the Seattle Seahawks, forgive us for thinking all hope was lost. Well, as ESPN’s Lee Corso would say: “Not so fast!” Kyler Murray and the gang rallied for a truly remarkable and stunning victory Sunday night that gives us a lot to takeaway from.
The Cardinals defense didn’t show any signs of life on Seattle’s opening possession when quarterback Russell Wilson led the Seahawks offense down the field on six play 75 yard drive. It took three minutes for the Cardinals to fall behind, and they weren’t much better the rest of the first half, allowing Seattle to score on five of their six possessions for 27 points going into halftime.
The second half and overtime was a different story. Seattle scored only seven points after halftime. Defensive coordinator Vance Joseph dialed up more pressure that resulted in takeaways, a third down stop with about 90 seconds left in the fourth quarter and critical sacks in overtime. The stars stepped and made plays when it mattered including rookie safety Isaiah Simmons grabbing his first career interception near the end of the overtime period.
Minutes earlier, head coach Kliff Kingsbury completely butchered the decision-making on the Cardinals offensive drive. Kingsbury put the brakes on a dominant drive orchestrated by quarterback Kyler Murray, running back Chase Edmonds and wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald. The Cardinals were moving the ball at will and were poised to end the game with a dominant run game, but Kingsbury decided to attempt a 41-yard field goal on second down with the play clock winding down. Not paying attention forced Kingsbury to burn a timeout and effectively ice his kicker Zane Gonzalez. Of course, Gonzalez missed the real attempt, giving the ball back to Seattle. Kingsbury told reporters after the game that whole series was a “complete debacle.”
Big Takeaway: Luckily for Kingsbury, Simmons was there to bail him out.
Even though he had five quarters to do it, Murray put up another ridiculous stat line Sunday night. 360 yards and three touchdowns passing plus another 67 yards rushing (led the team) and a touchdown on the ground. His talent is so rare, in fact, he’s the only quarterback in NFL history with that kind of game.
At one point in the game, TV cameras showed Murray yelling at tight end Darrell Daniels for missing a block on a third down scramble run that forced the Cardinals to punt. His sideline rant appeared to wake up some of his teammates because they came right back and scored on the next drive. Murray later rallied the Cardinals from a 10-point deficit in the closing minutes to force overtime and then led the team down the field twice to eventually win the game.
Big Takeaway: Murray has arrived on the big stage. Big time performances in back-to-back weeks on Monday Night Football and Sunday Night Football should put the rest of the NFL on notice.
Larry Fitzgerald set some career milestones Sunday night, becoming the second player in NFL history with 1,400 receptions; and he set a record for most career catches in one venue with 647 at State Farm Stadium. But Fitzgerald’s real impact came late in regulation and in overtime when he hustled to retrieve the ball after each play and get it to the official so the Cardinals could line up and snap the next play. His efforts saved so much time that it allowed Zane Gonzalez to come out with two seconds left and kick a field goal to force overtime.
Big Takeaway: Winning matters more than any individual record Fitzgerald could ever hold. He’s the smartest and most aware player on the field at all times and that should be appreciated more than the stats.
Cardinals safety Budda Baker nearly had a 102-yard interception return for a touchdown, but Seattle wide receiver D.K. Metcalf ran him down about ten yards shy of the end zone, a highlight that figured to be the most important play of the game if Seattle would’ve held on for the win.
Big Takeaway: Never forget Arizona general manager Steve Keim had the chance to draft Metcalf in 2019, but chose wide receiver Andy Isabella instead. Seattle picked Metcalf two spots later and he’s developed into one of the best at his position. Despite his massive size, everyone knew he had that kind of speed coming out of college. Well, everyone except Keim apparently. It’s good for him that track down tackle is now nothing more than a meme and didn’t ultimately decide the outcome of this game.
Nothing ever comes easy against Seattle. In fact, the Cardinals had not beat the Seahawks in Glendale since the 2012 season when Kevin Kolb was starting at quarterback and Russell Wilson was a rookie.
The win also improves the Cardinals to 5-2 on the season, matching last year’s win total. The loss for Seattle was their first of the season and puts Arizona just a half-game back in the standings entering the bye week.
Big Takeaway: Teams around the league and national media are starting to recognize the Cardinals are for real this season with a defense that is starting to force turnovers and a quarterback that will be hard to stop. Two big wins in prime time in two weeks (one was dominant, the other was weird) have vaulted the Cardinals in the eyes of many outside the Valley.
After the bye this week, the Cardinals return November 8 to start the meat of the schedule, with games against Miami, Buffalo and a Thursday night affair at Seattle. The nation thinks this team is for real and they’ll get a chance to prove it.