Rookie quarterback Kyler Murray, who led the Cardinals (1-3-1) to their first victory of the season, will face the Falcons (1-4) at 4:05 p.m. Sunday at State Farm Stadium in Glendale, Ariz.
Murray drove the Cardinals down the field for the game-winning field goal in a 26-23 win Sunday over the Bengals.
Murray, the No. 1 player selected in the 2019 NFL draft, hit running back David Johnson up the left sideline for a 24-yard gain. On second-and-6 from the Bengals’ 39, Murray broke loose for a 24-yard gain to get the Cardinals in field-goal range.
“He took advantage of what was there,” Arizona coach Kliff Kingsbury told the Phoenix media Monday. “As long as he protects himself we want him to do whatever it takes to win the game.”
Murray rushed 10 times for 93 yards and one touchdown against the Bengals.
“I thought he did a nice job of that,” Kingsbury said. “When things were there he took them. We also had several called runs that he maximized. Also, we don’t want to put him in harm’s way too often.”
Murray, who set the NFL scouting combine abuzz when he measured a shade taller that 5-foot-10, completed 20 of 32 passes Sunday for 253 yards without a touchdown or interception. He had a passer rating of 87.1.
“Kyler is elusive,” Johnson said. “He’s fast. He’s quick and it showed up (against the Bengals).”
The Cardinals opened the season with a 27-27 tie against the Lions before losing three consecutive, at Baltimore (23-17), against Carolina (38-20) and Seattle (27-10).
Against the Bengals, Murray was under control with the game on the line.
“He doesn’t change at all,” Kingsbury said. “He wants the ball in his hands.”
It was Murray’s best game of his early career.
“When he’s playing like that and not taking negative plays, it can be really challenging,” Kingsbury said.
On the season, Murray has completed 126 of 201 attempts (62.7%) for 1,324 yards with four interceptions and four touchdowns. He has a passer rating of 80.1.
Murray has rushed 28 times for 206 yards and two touchdowns.
“I have to continue to do a good job of putting him in position to be successful,” Kingsbury said. “You see the speed. You see the accuracy as a thrower. If we can get him comfortable, I think the sky is the limit.”
It was just the second time the Cardinals surpassed 500 yards in the past 11 seasons as they finished with 514 against the Bengals. The Falcons defense gave up 592 yards against Houston and mobile quarterback Deshaun Watson.
The Cardinals suffered some injuries against the Bengals.
Johnson’s back tightened, and he may not be available against the Falcons.
Cornerback Tramaine Brock suffered a shoulder injury and the Cardinals were already down two starters at that position in Patrick Peterson (six game suspension) and Robert Alford (leg injury/injured reserve).
Also, wide receiver Christian Kirk has an ankle injury.
If Johnson can’t play, Chase Edmunds would get most of his snaps.
“We’ve been able to develop more of a role for him and that will continue,” Kingsbury said.
The Cardinals are also thin along the offensive line.
“When you lose your starting right tackle (Marcus Gilbert) prior to the season even starting that puts you in a bit of a hole,” Kingsbury said. “Then to lose another one (Jordan Mills) that came in and was starting. We have young guys that are developing and have developed and Coach ‘Kugs’ (Sean Kugler) has done a good job with those guys.”
Kingsbury said he didn’t want to get down to his fourth or fifth-string tackles.
The Cardinals defense is led by Chandler Jones and added pass rushing veteran Terrell Suggs. Jones played 62 defensive snaps (93%) and Suggs played 51 snaps (76%) against the Bengals.
Defensive tackle Corey Peters, defensive end Brooks Reed and Alford are the former Falcons on the Cardinals roster.
Peters and Reed are playing, while Alford is out.
The Cardinals, going back to John Abraham and Sean Weatherspoon, have been fond of signing former Falcons.
Peters played 48 defensive snaps (72%) against the Bengals at nose tackle last week. Reed played 12 defensive snaps (18%) and 19 snaps on special teams (63%).
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