Well, another week, another Cardinals win.
While Arizona knocked off the Eagles like I can knock off a Philly Cheesesteak, who were the players that won or lost on the day?
Buckle up, cause there’s a lot. Let’s start with the obvious one...
Winner: Kyler Murray’s Arm
This was a stat that many of Kyler’s detractors had used to push the idea that he was a “running” QB or that he needed to run to win:
The Cardinals win the game without Murray rushing 10 times and without rushing for more than 30 yards.— Jess Root (@senorjessroot) December 21, 2020
Sure, the Eagles have a porous pass defense but ultimately Kyler set a new career high in passing yards and after the first quarter...didn’t do much on the ground outside of a quick touchdown scamper. And while he turned it over 3 times, it was his arm that led the day and drove Arizona down the field to 33 points. It could have been even 40 if not for a terrible read on an interception in the endzone, and that’s not even counting other trips into the redzone.
He’s why they won.
Cardinals had three turnovers but won this game because the passing game was elite.— Kyle Odegard (@Kyle_Odegard) December 21, 2020
Kyler Murray threw for 406 yards, 3 TD, averaged 11.3 Y/A.
Loser: Patrick Peterson & Dre Kirkpatrick
Poor Pat. I could probably pick out the coverage overall for Arizona outside of Byron Murphy but his in particular stood out as there were times he simply got beat by his receiver or flagged.
One such case he pleaded to the refs that Alshon Jeffrey interfered with him picking off a pass (and while he did, no good wide receiver is going to just avoid playing defense when it looks like the field may flip).
Kirkpatrick also fell down and didn’t keep containment on a screen pass of all things on 3rd and 25 to the point where Philly actually scored a touchdown and got some momentum in the game.
Philly coming into the game had their WR’s as a TEAM have less yards than Deandre Hopkins on the SEASON.
And the receivers for Philly went off for 338 yards, averaging 14 yards a catch.
That’s just terrible.
Fortunately, Philly was worse, with Arizona averaging over 15 yards a catch and 432 yards, so there ya go. The good news? The defense was also the reason why Arizona DIDN’T LOSE. Especially with two clutch pass breakups on two separate drives at the end.
Winner: Zach Allen
Allen’s had a rough start to his NFL career, with multiple injuries, several benchings and the like. Well, he finally had his best game as a Cardinal and it was needed amidst a ton of defensive line injuries, too.
Kudos to fellow BC grad, Zach Allen who led Cards today with11 tackles,. Added big sack and pass deflection. When was the last time a defensive interior player led the Cards in tackles, let alone in a big game like this? Holding RB Miles Sanders to 64 yds. was huge. Allen huge!— Walter B J Mitchell (@WBJMItch) December 21, 2020
Allen was taken with the first pick in the 3rd round in 2019, and Arizona reportedly had a first round grade on him. Here’s hoping that he can become a stalwart and have more games like yesterday’s.
Loser: Carson Wentz
Before the game, this little nugget dropped and...a lot of interest was sparked.
While questions have persisted about what the Eagles will do with Carson Wentz, the more appropriate question might be what Carson Wentz will do with the Eagles. Sources believe Wentz is not pleased with recent events there.https://t.co/Y0GAX3WqCm— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) December 20, 2020
Obviously, no one wants to be a backup. Or even likes it. And Philly has invested significantly in Wentz.
But there’s going to be a LOT of tension now, and the fact that the Eagles have gone from looking like a team that was getting terrible QB play to one that got a shot in the arm, has gotta hurt Wentz and his chances to be a starter in the longterm if he keeps getting outplayed like this (and it’s not CLOSE how badly Hurts has outplayed him).
What does it mean? Dunno but if Hurts had “one special game” and then stopped playing well, likely this conversation wouldn’t be happening. But it’s easy to look at Philly taking Hurts in the 2nd round and wondering if....they perhaps knew something about their starter?
(Also see what I did there?)
Winner: QB1 Andy Lee...to WR1 Ezekiel Turner...wait...what??!?
This pass play was gorgeous. And needed.
Arizona was about to go 3 and out and needed to get a spark and put the Eagles on edge, and Kliff Kingsbury (who called a great game by the way) dialed up a trick play that put the fun back into the desert like Cardinals fans haven’t seen for years. Kliff deserves props for how ludicrous that call was given the spot on the field...and it was played to perfection.
In fact, it reminded me of this play from a year ago...where Lee also completed a (slightly less pretty) pass off a fake.
Ezekiel Turner also helped force a blocked punt and recovery in the first quarter and might be the special teams player of the week.
Honestly, the special teams might have saved the day for Arizona and that’s something that deserves a tip of the cap.
Loser: Short Yardage & “Two Minutes left in the half” Situations
Once again...the Cardinals were in a situation where they needed to convert a 3rd and short to avoid giving the ball back to another team.
They weren’t able to convert.
Likewise, the team struggled massively at the end of the half in allowing the Eagles to drive down in 3 plays to the redzone and score, giving Arizona the ball back with a 2 minute offense of their own.
Winner: Deandre “Better Catch By I” Hopkins.
Two videos and one statistic are all that needs to be said here:
169 total yards and a TD.
Loser: Mason Cole
Cole’s been maybe the most steady lineman on the Cardinals the last three years overall. He’s been available and flexible in playing center and guard and has proven himself as a starter in the league.
But it was disheartening to have multiple mistakes in the game—multiple bad or poor snaps and also offsides penalties that were called (some poor where he looked like he just lifted his head) but he didn’t have a good day at all. It got bad enough fans started to doubt and wonder about his backup.
I think he’ll bounce back. But it’ll be something to watch against the upcoming Niners and Rams defensive lines, absolutely.