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A Good Antsy In Dallas, And Cowboys Aftermath

Kliff Kingsbury walked into the interview room Sunday, looking sharp in his suit ready to travel back to Arizona following a losing streak-busting win in Dallas, and immediately had a confession.

"I kind of get triggered still from this room, because three years ago, I was in the locker room and learned I was fired from a tweet from Texas Tech," Kingsbury said. "So I'm still a little antsy coming in here."

Antsy, maybe, but happy. He had to be, after everything swirling around the last few weeks. To notch a win against another team going to the playoffs, and to do it playing like the Cardinals had been earlier in the season, that's how it has to be done.

Kingsbury may face being triggered again. There is a very good chance the Cardinals will have to travel back to Dallas for the first round of the playoffs, and when Kingsbury was posed that hypothetical, he acknowledged "I'd rather not."

It's hard to beat a team twice in a season, Kingsbury said, and he's right. But he also said he's just happy to be in the playoffs, and besides, as Kyler Murray and Budda Baker and anyone else who is asked, it's going to be about playing the Seahawks at home next week for the regular-season finale. That game could still mean something if the 49ers somehow upset the Rams – because if that happens and the Cards win, the Cards win the division and host a playoff game.

-- DeAndre Hopkins, on crutches, was at the game on the sideline cheering on his team. (I had tweeted that Hop wasn't coming through that door, but maybe I should've amended to say he isn't coming through that door to play.)

-- Antoine Wesley isn't Hopkins, and he isn't going to turn into him. But he had two touchdown catches Sunday, and more importantly, Murray made sure to stick with him after an early deep pass that Wesley looked like he could've brought down but he did not.

"I felt like he should've caught it," Murray said with a chuckle. "He told me on the sideline after I got after him a little bit, we had a little talk, he told me to keep (throwing) to me. I just gave him a chance, he made up for it for sure."

-- Matt Prater looked like his normal self now that he had his normal operation of Aaron Brewer at long snapper and Andy Lee holding. His 53-yard field goal was his seventh of the season from at least 50 yards, setting a franchise record he had tied with Neil Rackers (who did it in 2005.)

-- That fake punt called by special teams coordinator Jeff Rodgers was gutsy and well-timed – it would've worked even incomplete because of the pass interference – but holy heck what a catch by Jonathan Ward.

"Best catch I've seen all year," Kingsbury said. "That was unbelievable. To make that in that situation was just tremendous."

-- Safety Chris Banjo also helped out with the throw – so yeah, when he said he was QB4 on an after-game tweet, he earned it.

-- Rodgers had a great day. It was also his call to run Murray and Prater on the field at the same time before Prater's third-quarter field goal, forcing the Cowboys to take a timeout and it cost them later.

-- Josh Jones, playing right tackle, had two more penalties, including a costly early false start. But he mostly was solid, especially in the second half, and Kelvin Beachum did a very good job at left tackle playing over there for the first time since coming to the Cardinals. Having Rodney Hudson back at center seemed to make the difference everyone thought it would.

-- DC Vance Joseph praised Zaven Collins in his multitude of roles, and after never playing defense, Collins' effort and performance was a big deal.

-- No James Conner meant Chase Edmonds had to play a ton. And he was beat up – by the end of the game, Eno Benjamin was getting some crucial snaps because they didn't want Edmonds out there a lot. But Kingsbury said Edmonds is the best in pass protection, so they needed him out there. You won't find many tougher than Edmonds.

That said, his health is something to watch this week.

-- Speaking of Conner, you have to wonder how much the red zone touchdown percentage would go up the last couple of weeks if Conner was healthy.

-- The Cardinals only gave up 45 yards rushing, which was the Cowboys' season-low. And the 2.6 yards per carry the Cards gave up was the best effort the Cardinals had all season.

-- Coming off the field – I didn't see who it was – a player bellowed, "This is the place Kyler built and don't you forget it!" (There might've been an expletive mixed in there in the emotion of the moment.)

Kyler is indeed 8-0 as a starter in the building. But Sunday's "1" was what mattered.

Time to fly home.

Cardinals running back Jonathan Ward makes a spectacular one-handed catch on a fake punt Sunday against the Cowboys.
Cardinals running back Jonathan Ward makes a spectacular one-handed catch on a fake punt Sunday against the Cowboys.
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