The first weekend of the 100th NFL season has produced its first tie game when the Arizona Cardinals hosted the Detroit Lions. It may have been hot weather-wise in the Southwest, but the Cardinals offense was anything but until late in the second half. Yet, a huge fourth-quarter comeback brought the fans clad in red to their feet, eventually resulting in a 27-27 tie at the end of overtime.
Murray, Kingsbury debuts start off slow
It was expected the Cardinals would be going through a tough 2019 season, adding some new names in important spots. Many will remember how Arizona used to have the likes of Josh Rosen, but they moved on from him when they officially selected Kyler Murray with the first pick in the 2019 Draft. To add to their experiment, the Cardinals signed Kliff Kingsbury as their new head coach, who was expected to be named Offensive Coordinator for USC, before opting to go to the NFL.
Kingsbury brings the Air-Raid offensive mindset to the league, which didn’t start to click until late in the third quarter. Murray’s start left a lot to be desired, but Cardinals fans just needed to be patient. At one point, Arizona trailed 24-6 early in the fourth quarter. While the deficit mounted throughout the game, the faith Kingsbury put in Murray’s hands didn’t wane. Through the first half, Murray was limited to eight pass completions and one interception, resulting in two field goals.
Fourth Quarter magic
Murray flipped a switch at some point in the fourth quarter, linking up with David Johnson for a 27-yard touchdown, Murray’s first in the NFL. In addition to wearing out the Lions defense, Arizona shut down Detroit, allowing one score just 13 seconds into the final quarter of regulation. Using their up-tempo offense, the Cardinals managed to get back into the red zone with less than one minute remaining.
Murray found an open Larry Fitzgerald right outside the end zone, and Fitz did the rest. Still down by two, Murray ran a similar play to succession on the other side of the field, this time finding Christian Kirk. The successful two-point conversion tied the score 24-24 with 42 seconds remaining.
Continuing their surge, Arizona won the coin toss and opted to receive. They made it down the field quickly, highlighted by Murray throwing a deep ball to Fitzgerald for the longest play from scrimmage for the offense. While shortening the field considerably, Murray and the offense were unable to find the end zone, having to settle for a field goal.
It’s a good thing they have a reliable kicker in Zane Gonzalez, who converted on all four field-goal opportunities and one PAT.
Detroit, led by veteran Quarterback Matthew Stafford, followed suit with some big plays to get into field goal range. They too have a reliable kicker in Matt Prater who made three PATs and both field goal opportunities.
Arizona’s offense was halted and the Cardinals defense was just as effective when needed. Terrell Suggs, NFL vet but new to Arizona, came up huge with a crucial sack of Stafford.
Two plays later, Stafford nearly threw what could’ve been a game-ending interception, but Tramaine Brock had it hit him in the numbers and it dropped. Brock made a critical play earlier in the overtime session, knocking away a potential touchdown catch to Kenny Golladay. Detroit had to settle with a field goal, keeping the overtime alive.
Hockenson impresses for Detroit
On the other side of the field, another rookie was making his debut and put together a solid stat line. TJ Hockenson, the first of two Tight Ends from Iowa taken in the 2019 Draft, lived up to his hype. Stafford finished the day 27-45 with 385 passing yards and three scores. Hockenson accounted for one score, hauling in six receptions for 131 yards. Strong debut to say the least.
Arizona Airing it out
Incorporating the Air-Raid style of play, Arizona had 2/3 of their offense come as a result. Murray ended up with 308 passing yards on 29-54 passing with two scores and one pick. Fitzgerald pulled in eight balls for 113 yards and one score, followed by Johnson with six catches for 55 yards and one touchdown.