Kyler Murray’s 2023 debut provided an instant spark for the woeful Arizona Cardinals, a boost they sorely needed.
On Wednesday, Murray credited the pressure of his first game back since suffering an ACL injury as the motivation he needed to perform well.
“You’re always on edge,” Murray said, via the team’s official site. “You’re never really comfortable. Great players understand when you are always on edge, whatever zone you’re in you’re trying to stay in it however you get in it as long as possible.”
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The zone in which Murray operated was a good one. He looked fresh, spry and brought plenty of juice to a Cardinals offense that finished with just 58 net yards of offense a week earlier, posting a solid passing line of 19 of 32 for 249 yards and an interception.
Murray made up for the interception by running for a touchdown of his own. His greatest plays came late in a tight game between Arizona and Atlanta, particularly in a sequence where Murray covered nearly 70 yards of distance on a 13-yard scramble for a crucial first down, then found rookie tight end Trey McBride for a 33-yard completion that set up Matt Prater’s game-winning field goal.
Any worries of rust — including Murray’s own, to which he admitted to having on Wednesday — dissipated by the end of the game. Murray was back, and the Cardinals had their second win of a trying 2023 season.
“I think it was awesome flow even though it’s our first week together,” tackle Paris Johnson Jr. said of playing with Murray. “I think it felt really natural.”
Week 10 marked the start of an audition of sorts for Murray, who needs to prove to himself and the Cardinals that he’s healthy enough to return to his star-caliber form. He also needs to show Arizona he’s worth keeping around instead of replacing him with a first-round quarterback in April.
So far, so good. Murray played well in his debut, and feels a refreshing positivity with the team, now that a new regime is in charge.
“A lot of people keep saying, ‘Oh he’s a better leader now’ this and that, I just think people … I don’t want to get too much into it,” Murray said. “But the light’s different right now. People around me, teammates, everybody, it’s just a different energy.”
If the good vibes continue to roll for Murray and the Cardinals, he just might carry such optimism into 2024.
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