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Cardinals Continue to Find New Ways to Win

The Arizona Cardinals defeated the Chicago Bears after forcing four turnovers and capitalizing on all of them.

The Arizona Cardinals have not been a one-trick pony this season. 

On a cold, windy and rainy Sunday afternoon at Soldier Field, they became the first team to 10 wins, defeating the Chicago Bears 33-22. 

Most of their wins have looked a bit different, which continued to be the case in Week 13. 

The Cardinals gained fewer than 300 total yards of offense in a win for the first time this season, and the Bears held the ball for nearly 35 minutes. 

Neither the Cardinals' offense nor defense had its best game, but they took advantage of opportunities and were complementary. 

Arizona snatched the ball away four times on interceptions, twice in the first quarter and two more in the second half.

"We knew it'd be grimy, wet, windy, cold," head coach Kliff Kingsbury said postgame. "But I thought our defense played tremendous. Creating those takeaways, giving us short fields on offense. We were able to capitalize a few times."

Safeties Jalen Thompson and Budda Baker corralled the first two, cornerback Byron Murphy Jr. the third after edge rusher Chandler Jones tipped the ball and defensive tackle Zach Allen grabbed the fourth.

The average starting point for the offense after the takeaways was the Chicago 18.25-yard line. 

Arizona's offense produced 23 points off the four turnovers.

It scored three touchdowns within five plays of interceptions, like fast-break dunks following steals in a basketball game. 

"At the end of the day for us, we got to get the ball and give it back to our offense because we know our offense is explosive," Baker said. "The more touches they get, the more warmed up they're going to get. And then I like to say things will get hectic."

The Cardinals' offense looked a bit different Sunday. It ran the ball 35 times compared to 15 throws, the most stark difference in play-types they've run all season. However, quarterback Kyler Murray was sacked once and many of his runs were called pass plays.

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In his first start since Week 8 due to a high-ankle sprain, Murray ran the ball 10 times for 59 yards, both season highs. 

"It felt good," Murray said. "I tested it out pregame. That gave me confidence. I knew I was fine."

He completed 11 of 15 passes for 123 yards, the fourth fewest of his career. 

Kingsbury was not totally satisfied with the offense, which scored on two of five series that did not start after an interception (excluding its final possession). 

"Disjointed offense, we didn't play as well as we probably could have," Kingsbury said. "Couldn't throw it as well as we would have liked, but proud of the effort. Proud that we got the win."

The Cardinals have won games when everything went right, like in Week 1 at Tennessee and Week 4 against the Los Angeles Rams.

They've won while struggling offensively for most of the game like in Week 5 against San Francisco. 

With various key players inactive and even without Kingsbury for a game due to COVID-19, Arizona has kept stacking wins while facing new challenges. 

Kingsbury has said he still wants to see his team improve its consistency, that at stretches it has played up to standards on both sides of the ball.  

Sunday does not change that despite the commanding victory in which Chicago never came within one score of Arizona during the second half. 

Tackles were missed, gaps were not filled and points were left on the board. 

Arizona's ability to adjust and capitalize on chances during games is a critical skill as the season nears the home stretch, but there is still room to grow. 

 "Next game is Monday night, so we'll get that extra day of prep," Kingsbury said. "We've got to play a lot cleaner. Hopefully, this is a precursor to get us ready to play better this week."

The Cardinals face the Rams next week on Monday Night Football from State Farm Stadium in a game the 10-2 Cardinals could all but wrap up the NFC West race.