Skip to main content
Publish date:

'Nobody Blinked' . . . What Went Well in the Cardinals Victory Over the Jaguars

The Cardinals faced pressure on Sunday, but they stayed composed and walked out 3-0 on the young season.

Adverse, ugly and disjointed were all words used in the Cardinals postgame press conferences to describe Sunday's 31-19 win over the Jaguars. 

But, the main message from head coach Kliff Kingsbury and select players was that the team's mental fortitude is strengthening. 

Despite struggling on third down, giving up a historic special-teams touchdown at the end of the first half and some inconsistency on both sides of the ball, the Cardinals made enough plays to walk away undefeated. 

"We're 3-0, that's all that matters," wide receiver A.J. Green said. "It's great just to clean it up when you're winning. It makes everything easier."

What went well

Staying composed

Perhaps the greatest test the Cardinals have endured this season was how they would respond after halftime. 

Kingsbury sent kicker Matt Prater out to try what would have been a record-breaking 68-yard field goal at the end of the first half. Prater's kick was on target, but it fell short.

Jamal Agnew of Jacksonville was waiting for it, and he found a lane down the far sideline all the way to the end zone. His return went for 109 yards, tied for the longest touchdown in NFL history. It also gave the Jaguars the lead, 13-7.

Cornerback Byron Murphy Jr. said the offense and defense each huddled up in the locker room to regroup, reestablish the game plan and keep their heads up. 

Quarterback Kyler Murray said that Sunday's game would have ended differently had it come last season. 

"I'm glad we fought through adversity today," Murray said postgame. "Last two years we would have lost that game for sure, and to see us fight through that and come on the road . . . It's good to get a win anyway you can."

Even after halftime, not everything went as planned. 

Murray threw an interception on the first drive, and the Jaguars went up by two scores after a they put together a touchdown drive without throwing the ball once. 

Still, Arizona made big plays on both sides of the ball down the stretch, outscoring the Jaguars 21-0 to close out the game. The defense took the ball away three times in the second half, and the offense had a lengthy touchdown drive in the fourth quarter to put the game out of reach. 

Taking the ball away

The Cardinals had more takeaways on Sunday than in their first two games combined. 

Murphy intercepted two passes, one in each half, and the Cardinals recovered two fumbles. 

Read More

Murphy's second takeaway was a defining moment in the game.

On second-and-6, the Jaguars attempted a flea-flicker. 

They ran eight straight run plays on their previous possession, and the plan was to be aggressive. 

But, when running back Carlos Hyde received the handoff, the defensive line was already pushing through. By the time quarterback Trevor Lawrence got the ball back, defensive end J.J. Watt was rushing straight toward him. 

The rookie quarterback hurled the ball to the near sideline off his back foot, and Murphy cut it off. With no one ahead of him, the third-year corner took it to the end zone.

This play was not only a momentum changer, but it gave Arizona the lead back. 

"You could feel the momentum change on that play," Kingsbury said postgame. "I think everybody felt like we had it in control after that moment."

As a capper, inside linebacker Jordan Hicks sacked and stripped Lawrence on the final play of the game. 

Offense when in rhythm

The Cardinals scored a touchdown on their second offensive possession of the game. Murray said the drive felt easy and fluid. Arizona never had a third down. 

It started with a strong punt return from Rondale Moore, then the offense did not have a play go for fewer than five yards until it got to the 2-yard line. 

Murray ran in for the score with 6:42 left in the first quarter. Arizona did not score again until midway through the third. 

Third down was a real issue, as the Cardinals finished the game 1-for-9. 

"We were just kind of shooting ourselves in the foot and not finishing," Murray said. "We come back and we find a way. The defense stepped up, the offense, we stepped up when we needed to."

The Cardinals put together three scoring drives in a row. The first was 12 plays for 68 yards. The next lasted five plays for 75. Their final touchdown drive went for 11 plays and 65 yards. 

Murray found seven receivers on Sunday, but he relied on Green and Christian Kirk, especially down the stretch. Both targets gained over 100 yards. 

The run game also found more success, especially with running back James Conner. He gained 36 yards over his final eight carries on Sunday.