All week there was talk around the Arizona Cardinals that Sunday’s game against the New York Jets was a “must-win.”
For a 2-2 team in early October, it seemed a bit hyperbolic. But for the Cardinals, it wasn’t. They needed to beat the winless Jets, one of the worst teams in football to stay relevant in the brutally tough NFC West and they needed to do it in a convincing fashion to prove they have what it takes to keep chasing a playoff berth this season.
Then second-year quarterback Kyler Murray went to work.
Murray helped the Cardinals (3-2) prevent a three-game winning streak with his arm and legs, throwing for a career-high 380 yards in a 30-10 win against the Jets (0-5), a week after he threw for 133 yards.
— Arizona Cardinals (@AZCardinals) October 11, 2020
He diced apart the Jets’ second with a variety of throws, including a 37-yard touchdown throw to wideout DeAndre Hopkins with 8:35 left in the game that was as beautiful as it was accurate. Of Murray’s 380 yards, 131 went to Hopkins, who had his third 130-yard game as a Cardinal. He didn’t have any last season.
Murray also showed off his touch in the third quarter with a perfectly placed pass to wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald, who hauled it in with one hand.
Murray wasn’t just productive, he was accurate, completing 27 of 37 passes for one touchdown and an interception.
The win keeps Arizona in the hunt for the postseason, including a shot at the NFC West title.
Describe the game in two words: Rebound game. The Cardinals came off two bad losses with a fairly good all-round showing, but Sunday’s game showed there’s still work to be done if Arizona wants to keep the winning going.
Buy/sell on a breakout performance: Buy, buy, buy on Dennis Gardeck’s two sacks in his first defensive snaps of the season. The former undrafted free agent has spent the majority of his first two seasons on special teams, even getting named a Pro Bowl alternate last season. He is a key special teamer but transitioned to outside linebacker this season, and with Chandler Jones leaving the game in the second quarter with a biceps injury and Devon Kennard not playing because of a calf injury, Gardeck got his first defensive playing time Sunday and proved he can be an NFL pass-rusher.
Bold prediction for next week: Running back Chase Edmonds, who continued his tear of playing well at MetLife Stadium with 36 rushing yards and a touchdown and 56 receiving yards, will get more carries on Monday night against the Dallas Cowboys (8:15 p.m. ET, ESPN).
Pivotal play: Murray hit Hopkins along the left sideline for a 45-yard completion with 10:31 left in the fourth quarter that moved Arizona from its own 11-yard line to the Jets’ 44, and put Arizona in a position to score a game-solidifying touchdown later in the drive. Murray under-threw the pass and Hopkins came back for it, making an impressive grab in the process.