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It was almost as if you could collectively feel the deflation amongst the Arizona Cardinal fan base as soon as quarterback Kyler Murray was announced inactive prior to Sunday’s kickoff at Seattle. Murray, who practiced (limited) all week, had remained optimistic about his chances of playing for the first time since his fourth quarter injury suffered at the hands of the Green Bay Packers. Yet after a Saturday night report from ESPN’s Adam Schefter, who once again cast doubt over Murray’s availability, it became all too apparent that the Cardinals would once again be without their franchise quarterback.
Enter Colt McCoy.
For the second time in three weeks, backup quarterback Colt McCoy answered the bell for his teammates in a game most Arizona Cardinal fans wont soon forget. Nursing an injured pec, McCoy put together one of the best quarterbacking performances of the season en route to a dominant 23-13 victory at Seattle.
“He was tremendous,” said head coach Kliff Kingsbury. “To be in his role and come in and get two division road wins against those teams like he did, you can’t ask for anything more.”
After a forgettable performance last week against the Panthers, McCoy responded by carving up the now free falling Seahawks through the air. The former Texas Longhorn was a scorching 35-for-44 for 328 yards and two touchdowns to go along with 20 yards rushing. The veteran signal caller led touchdown drives of 82, 92, and 67 yards while helping Arizona dominate time of possession 40:22/19:38. McCoy was also aided by a robust Cardinal receiving core, albeit without DeAndre Hopkins, who managed to find continued separation within the Seattle secondary.
“This isn’t about me, that was a big win for all of us,” said Colt McCoy during his post game presser. “I’m just glad to step up and play and be a part of a really special team.”
Try as he might, McCoy cannot downplay the significance of his efforts during the month of November. The Arizona Cardinals remain in contention for the conference’s top playoff seed in part because of their veteran quarterback’s ability to come through in the clutch. His quality play has also enabled the Cardinals to take extra precaution when it comes to reinserting Kyler Murray back into the starting lineup. Even after last week’s dismal performance against the Panthers, Colt McCoy and the Cardinals remained confident in their ability to rebound on Sunday.
“I’ve played long enough in this league to know that those kind of games happen,” said McCoy. “They’re absolutely not fun and the good teams are able to bounce back from that. Good teams respond week-to-week and we were able to play really good complementary football.”
If the Cardinals are eventually able to capture the franchise’s first Lombardi Trophy this season, Colt McCoy will have played a key role in making that happen. Like so many Cardinals, McCoy has been undervalued by a large majority of NFL teams yet has found an ideal role within Kingsbury’s offense. A free agent at year’s end, it would be difficult to envision a scenario in which Colt McCoy was not back in Cardinal red next season. His experience and knowledge of the game has been invaluable for his teammates, especially Kyler Murray.
Much like former Cardinal head coach Bruce Arians and backup quarterback Drew Stanton, the tandem of Kingsbury and McCoy appears to be one worth investing in.
“He’s been through it,” said Kingsbury. “He’s seen the ups and the downs. He knows he can play in this league and play at a high level.”
With the victory, the Cardinals now sit atop the NFL mountain at a league best 9-2 entering their bye week. They are 4-0 against the NFC West with their remaining two divisional games at home (Rams, Seahawks). The Cardinals are looking to become the first Super Bowl winning team to go undefeated on the road during the regular season since the New England Patriots accomplished it back in 2016.
- The Cardinals have managed to exit the month of November with a winning record (2-1) despite missing the likes of Kyler Murray, DeAndre Hopkins and Chase Edmonds. While the award isn’t decided until after the regular season concludes, Kliff Kingsbury is all but a lock to win NFL Coach of the Year honors.
- Speaking of the Cardinal head coach, Sunday marked Kingsbury’s first winning season since his Texas Tech Red Raiders went 7-6 back in 2015. That year also happened to coincide with the Arizona Cardinals last season above .500, as Bruce Arians and company went 13-3 on their way to the NFC Championship Game.
- After their lackluster performance from a week ago, the Cardinal defense rallied for a quality outing against the Seahawks. Both Chandler Jones and Markus Golden provided much needed pressure off the edge (three combined sacks), while the Arizona back-seven allowed a mere 207 passing yards on the day. Russell Wilson was largely a non-factor for a Seattle offense that had gone 19 consecutive drives without a touchdown.
- Tight end Zach Ertz put together the kind of performance Sunday that reinforced the belief that the veteran needs to be in Arizona’s plans long term. The former Eagle’s presence in the red zone, for an offense currently missing DeAndre Hopkins, is sorely needed. Kudos to Kingsbury and McCoy for consistently targeting #86 on Sunday.
- James Conner didn’t have his usual robust box score, but the veteran still managed nearly 100 total yards from scrimmage while adding to his league leading 13th touchdown.
- After a rough stretch following his Thursday Night Football blunder, veteran receiver A.J. Green put together a strong performance for the Cardinal offense on Sunday. Both Green and Antoine Wesley were key difference makers on the outside, taking advantage of the undersized corners of Seattle. With DeAndre Hopkins expected to return after the bye, expect a receiving core rotation that suddenly includes 5-6 capable pass catchers.
- While his overall numbers may not support it, third-year safety Jalen Thompson deserves some serious Pro Bowl consideration for his play this season. The former Washington State product has been tremendous in both coverage and run support while offering a physical presence that is consistently on display each and every Sunday. Suddenly the future looks bright for a youthful Arizona secondary that consists of Thompson, Budda Baker, Bryon Murphy and Marco Wilson.
- After a couple shaky outings, the Arizona Cardinal offensive line turned in one of their better performances of the season against the Seahawks. Surrounding two sacks on the day, the unit largely managed to keep Colt McCoy upright despite missing guard Justin Pugh. Center Rodney Hudson did have some issues snapping the ball, however.
- Kicker Matt Prater had an uncharacteristically off afternoon on Sunday, missing two field goals along with his first extra point on the year. According to those in attendance, wind was perhaps a factor along with the presence of a new long snapper.
- Following Tanner Vallejo’s season ending trip to the injured reserve, it was assumed that LB Zaven Collins would see increased playing time as a result. Unfortunately for Collins, the rookie first-rounder tweaked his ankle early which limited his snaps defensively.
- While the Cardinals managed to keep their turnover total at zero, they did commit four fumbles on the afternoon along with a near interception from Colt McCoy. That turnover luck is not sustainable long term and needs to be cleaned up.
- The Seattle Seahawks look like a team headed for a major shakeup following the season. At 3-7, this year will almost certainly mark quarterback Russel Wilson’s first losing campaign as a pro. It’s fair to wonder what this Seattle team will look like during their Week 18 visit to State Farm Stadium.
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