After a 0-3 slide cause the Cardinals to slip, they righted the ship in a big way against the Dallas Cowboys and the #1 offense in the NFL.
With a 25-22 win,
#1. They avoided the costly turnover unlike the last 3 weeks
Maybe you can argue that the Kyler sack, penalty and poor punt was the same thing (or that Chase fumbled the ball), but the stat sheet at the end of the day shows 0 turnovers by Arizona, 1 by Dallas.
Isaiah Simmons forced a turnover at a big time, giving the ball back to the Cardinals’ offense in Dallas territory.
Isaiah Simmons causes the turnover! #RedSea @isaiahsimmons25— NFL (@NFL) January 3, 2022
: #AZvsDAL on FOX
: NFL app pic.twitter.com/5cbnr6Snhn
When the Cardinals have won the turnover battle, they’ve been pretty much the 7-0 team that we thought they were this season. The last three weeks, whether it was a costly interception or not by not forcing a turnover, they’ve struggled to get a takeaway on defense.
This week, they did it, and Kyler & the offense stayed clean on their end as well.
#2. They made kicks & converted in the red zone
Hello, Antoine Wesley.
The former Texas Tech product came up big with two touchdowns, one on a SPECTACULAR catch:
TWEEZY BACK IN TEXAS ⬆️@antoine_wesley x #RedSea pic.twitter.com/UXrvq1Bcme— Arizona Cardinals (@AZCardinals) January 2, 2022
The other was on a Kyler Murray bootleg, and if that wasn’t good to watch as a Cardinals fan, not much else might cause a sigh of relief more than Matt Prater being perfect on the day.
In the last few games, Arizona left points on the board, either not getting it on 4th down or missing field goals without normal punter Andy Lee in to hold for the veteran kicker.
Lo and behold, with the Arizona Cardinals making plays in the passing game in the red zone and confidence in the kicking game, it seemed to lift the confidence of the entire Cardinals’ team. And you feel like they turned a corner that they’d been trying to turn.
#3. Kyler Murray’s legs sealed the win
Call it the magic of Cowboys Stadium, call it being the more desperate team, but when the Cardinals’ defense finally broke and gave up a late touchdown, Arizona needed a long, strong drive.
And they got it.
With Kyler Murray running the ball on several draw plays, multiple option runs and some completions to Ertz, Dallas was forced to use their timeouts and simply ran out of time.
Murray’s legs might have taken Dallas by surprise, but it was the impact of the THREAT of his legs that gave Dallas fits, as it forced their pass rushers to either cover him or run out to cover Chase Edmonds and gave the Cards some low-risk, high reward rush plays at the end of the game for a “gotta have it” drive.
His record at Cowboys Stadium stands out, but in a battle of franchise quarterbacks he managed to outlast Prescott, get out of pressure and made great plays.
Kyler’s smartest plays, in my opinion, were some he didn’t make. Throwing it to fight another day rather than forcing it allowed a confident Matt Prater to put points on the board.
Tossing the ball away rather than a forced INT (as we have seen a time or two) was an encouraging sign of growth that Murray could stay in a balanced offense and made plays when it counted.
Honorable Mention: Kliff’s Aggression on the Fake Punt
The Cards are a “win from the lead” team more than a “win from behind” team, and they never trailed in this game.
Part of the reason for that was the incredible ‘off-the-helmet’ catch by Jonathan Ward. He was interfered with, so it was a first down for Arizona, but that sort of boldness to go for it in his own territory resulted in Arizona taking an early lead.
What were your takeaways? Sound off below in the comments section!