What a way to open the 2021 season.
Quarterback Kyler Murray threw for four touchdowns and ran in another score to lead the Arizona attack on offense. The Cardinals defense was even more dominant, led by pass rusher Chandler Jones’ five quarterback sacks. Jones also forced two fumbles that later turned into points for the Cardinals offense.
According to @pfref, there's been 18 5-sack games in the NFL since the stats became official in 1982. The Cardinals have two of them — in their last five games. Reddick had 5 in Week 14 last December.— Vince Marotta (@Vincemarotta) September 12, 2021
The 25-point win over last year’s AFC South division champ is arguably the most impressive win of the Kliff Kingsbury era in the desert. The Cardinals jumped out to a 10-0 lead in the first quarter and built it to a 24-6 advantage at half. Soon after, the league took notice.
Murray, who struggled in the back half of the 2020 season, looked similar to the weapon he was in the first half of last year — minus the rushing numbers. Arizona’s third year starting QB finished 21-of-32 passing for 289 yards and four touchdowns. We was intercepted once and had five rushes for 20 yards, including a touchdown run on a slick designed play near the goal line.
Murray spread the ball around nicely to his array of targets: 6 catches, 83 yards and two touchdowns for DeAndre Hopkins; 5 catches, 70 yards and two scores for Christian Kirk; and a nice rookie debut for Rondale Moore hauling in four balls for 68 yards.
Cardinals running backs Chase Edmonds (63 yards) and James Conner (53 yards) chewed up the ground just enough against a very bad Tennessee Titans defense. For the game, the Cardinals were nearly evenly balanced on offense: 32 passes to 33 rushes.
Meanwhile, the defense held some of the best offensive players in the NFL to pedestrian numbers. Derrick Henry, the league’s leading rusher a year ago, was swallowed up all day by J.J. Watt and the defensive line and ran for a mere 58 yards — most of which came late with backup defensive players in the game for Arizona. Wide receiver Julio Jones was held to three catches for 29 yards in his Tennessee debut.
Overall, the Cardinals defense allowed just 248 total yards, forced three turnovers and sacked quarterback Ryan Tannehill six times.
Domination on both sides of the ball.
The Cardinals look to do it again next Sunday when they host the Minnesota Vikings (0-1) at State Farm Stadium in Week 2.