Kyler Murray hasn't had a "normal" game in Seattle yet, and other notes before the Arizona Cardinals play at the Seattle Seahawks –
A normal game in Seattle for Kyler Murray? Maybe this time.
As a rookie in 2019, Kyler played well and the Cardinals eventually won – but he pulled his hamstring and Brett Hundley had to come in to play the second half and close out an upset win. In 2020, Murray played the whole game in a close loss, a game that couldn’t have been more eerie – it was a Thursday night game in an empty stadium because of Covid. You could hear coaches and players yelling specifics things all the way up in the press box where I sat. Last year, Murray was only a spectator, watching Colt McCoy engineer a big win.
“That is weird. I thought about that,” Murray said. “The game we won (in 2019), I didn’t get to finish, but yeah, I’m looking forward to it. The crowd’s obviously always great. The tradition out there is great.”
Murray said Seattle is “kind of like a second or third home” because his grandmother lived in the area and he would visit growing up. So there is a comfort level.
But the Cardinals need for Murray to be comfortable on the field this weekend. He’s playing a flawed defense, and as marvelous as Murray’s showing was at the end of the Raiders game, the QB has yet to have a good game from start to finish. The way the Seahawks have scored points, the Cardinals figure to need their offense – and Murray – to work some magic, statistically and otherwise.
— The Cardinals were emotional during and after Sunday’s loss to the Eagles. Most of that has passed, as it usually does win or lose, this late in the week and the next game on tap. But it isn’t forgotten.
“There is a lot of frustration,” defensive end J.J. Watt said. “But you should feel that. If you’re putting effort and energy and time and passion into this, it’s going to hurt when you lose. That’s the nature of it. If it doesn’t hurt something’s wrong.”
— Interestingly, this will be Watt’s first game ever in Seattle. He was with the team last year but he was injured. His only other chance to play in Seattle came in 2017 when he was with the Texans, but he was on IR then as well.
— With both James Conner and Darrel Williams out (and both might not be ready for the Saints game either, Kliff Kingsbury said), Eno Benjamin will be RB1. He’ll be joined by rookie Keaontay Ingram, who will be active for the first time in his NFL career.
“It’s challenging,” Ingram said. “It’s humbling. It really shows you how much you really love the game. I thought I loved it for a second but when I got (playing time) taken from me, it was a humbling experience. I’m itching to get back out there, I’ll tell you that.”
— Kingsbury said veteran running back Corey Clement will be elevated from the practice squad to fill out the position. Clement played most of his previous five NFL seasons in Philadelphia. “He’s an awesome teammate,” said tight end Zach Ertz, who was with Clement in Philly. “As a rookie he immediately stood out on the opening kickoff of 2017, he’s an undrafted free agent and smacks the return man and set the tone for the whole season.”
— Maybe Matt Ammendola gets a chance at redemption. Maybe he doesn’t play a role in this game at all. The reality is that he’s the one the Cardinals are going to use and to whom gets a second chance. Kicker is a funny position. Neil Rackers was the best kicker in the NFL in 2005. In 2006, suddenly he couldn’t make kicks he always had. Chandler Catanzaro went through a similar spell. There are no mulligans given to kickers though – other players can make mistakes and it’s often accepted. I was talking to Matt Prater right before the season about how kickers are victims of their own success – if a guy doesn’t make 90 percent of their kicks, they are substandard it feels. (To think, in 1990, only nine kickers in the league made 80 percent of their field goals.)
This doesn’t excuse the miss. Ammendola was signed to make that kick. We will see if last week means anything this week – or if it’s moot.
— The Cardinals will be in the air flying to Seattle Saturday as Game 3 of the Mariners-Astros game is going on. If the Mariners win, the Cardinals game will have kickoff moved to 2:30 p.m. If the Astros win, kickoff will remain at 1:05 p.m. So the team gets a surprise when they land.
— The Seahawks had four scoring plays last week against the Saints of at least 35 yards. The Cardinals don’t have a play of more than 30 yards this season (they have two of exactly 30 yards — one Darrel Williams run, one Greg Dortch catch.) The Hollywood Brown 25-yard catch-and-run TD last week is the Cardinals’ longest scoring play, and all those stats, in a nutshell, is a big reason why their scoring is down.
— Since Lumen Field opened in 2002, the Cardinals have won nine games in Seattle (including the game that opened the building, when Jake Plummer struggled but Thomas Jones broke off his best game in Arizona with 173 yards rushing.) No other team has won there more than five times. One of the most striking parts of this success, at least to me – the Cardinals suffered their worst loss in franchise history in 2012 in Seattle, 58-0. Yet they came back to Seattle the next year to beat a better Seahawks team (one that went on to win the Super Bowl.)
— The team is holding a 5K walk/run and watch party at the Great Lawn at State Farm Stadium on Oct. 30 the day the Cardinals play in Minnesota. Check this out for details (including free tickets to the Seahawks game the following week.)
— The last time the Cardinals played the Seahawks and Russell Wilson was not Seattle’s starting quarterback came on the final day of the 2011 season, when Tarvaris Jackson was under center for the Seahawks. Wilson was still in college at that point.
— The trio of Washington Huskies – Budda Baker, Byron Murphy and Ezekiel Turner – head back to their old college town. Baker, who grew up in Seattle, said he is “tunnel-visioned” about playing at home. Murphy, who is from Scottsdale, said he misses the “full environment” of those days.
“I still gotta go back and finish school,” Murphy said. “I don’t know when but I’ve got to get my degree for sure. Something I’ve wanted to do my whole life.”
— The last word goes to Kliff Kingsbury and the decision to play – or not play – players who are inexperienced. Ingram is getting his first work; linebacker Myjai Sanders got his first work last week against the Eagles.
“That’s always the battle between coaches and personnel,” Kingsbury said. “Coaches want guys who know what they are doing and aren’t going to bust and give up things wide open, and personnel wants to play guys who they brought in for a reason. There is a fine line you do walk. Sometimes teams are in a different phases of building. It is cool to see when the young guys develop … we’re going to have some young guys playing this week that have earned it, and I think that’s important.”
See you Sunday.
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