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A Rare Monday Night Road Trip, And Saturday Before The Cowboys

It was dinner time earlier this week and I was sitting with my wife and oldest son and the topic of the Cardinals and "Monday Night Football" came up. Because why wouldn't it? And I might've mentioned that the drawback to such a game on the road is that return in the dead of night.

But that got my son asking how many times I had really had to do that, at least on a Monday night. When you look it up, it is kind of shocking. Monday in Dallas will be the 14th time the Cardinals have been on MNF since moving to Arizona in 1988. Amazingly, only three of those games will have been on the road – the first two at San Francisco in 2007 and 2009.

The Cards haven't been on MNF since 2017, when they lost to the Cowboys, but they will have an eight-game home stretch of Monday night games broken when they go to Dallas.

There have been plenty of highlights on Monday nights for the Arizona-based Cardinals:

  • The first regular-season game ever for the Phoenix Cardinals in 1988 was a game against the Cowboys at Sun Devil Stadium. The Cards lost, and the fake field goal by Al Del Greco most certainly did not work.
  • In 1995, in a loss against the Cowboys, they got some game footage for the movie "Jerry Maguire" and Buddy Ryan left the field a tad early.
  • In 1999, Steve Young's career came to an end when an Aeneas Williams hit gave a concussion to the 49ers QB.
  • In 2006, Denny Green told us the Bears are who we thought they were, and in 2010, Derek Anderson told us he takes this (expletive) serious.

-- Also, in the Cards' first-ever appearance on MNF in 1970 (it was the Cowboys' first appearance too), the Cardinals rolled to a 38-0 win in Dallas.

-- More MNF fun facts: Of those 14 games, Dallas has been the Cards' opponent four times, and the 49ers six times. So there's a pattern there.

-- Of course, this is all (mostly) ancient history for Kyler Murray, who wasn't even alive when Rod Tidwell was playing for the Cardinals. Here in the present, Murray's performance will be the key to this game. I know that's not exactly next-level analysis, but I truly believe if Murray has a good game, the Cardinals come out on top. He's certainly had success in the building.

-- Given all the injuries the Cowboys have suffered – including Dak Prescott – they would be the last ones to worry about what the Cardinals are going through. But no matter how bad the Cards' safety injury string was a couple weeks ago (and maybe Jalen Thompson plays this week, we will see), it doesn't compare to the outside linebacker problems now. No Chandler Jones. No Kylie Fitts. Still iffy on Devon Kennard and Dennis Gardeck. The pass rush got messed up quickly, and how Vance Joseph juggles this will be important to watch.

-- Chandler Jones was not having the same kind of year he had in 2019, but now we're really going to see what it's like when he's not around.

-- What have the Cowboys lost in losing Prescott? Well, thus far this season he has the top three passing games by yardage in the NFL. He threw for 502 yards in Week 4, 472 in Week 3 and 450 in Week 2.

-- There was a lot of speculation before the draft – especially before the Hopkins trade – that the Cards could take wide receiver CeeDee Lamb, Murray's college teammate who has gotten off to a good start for the Cowboys.

"That's my boy on and off the field," Murray said. "Wish him nothing but the best, but this weekend he's on the other side."

Said Lamb to Dallas reporters, "That's my brother, at the end of the day. … Somebody got to come out with an L (on Monday night), and I'm not planning on it being us."

-- Cowboys coach Mike McCarthy was an assistant with the New Orleans Saints back when Kliff Kingsbury was with the franchise in 2004. At one point, McCarthy had watched Kingsbury play at Texas Tech.

"I think it was Kliff's sophomore year," McCarthy said. "He threw the ball probably 50 times, and I think he got hit 30 of them. When I went back to work in New Orleans, I remember talking to the personnel guys and saying, 'Hey, there's a young quarterback at Texas Tech. You better make sure you take a look.' I was just so impressed.

"There's no surprise at all that he's an outstanding, excellent football coach because he had a great mind, instinct and awareness. I enjoyed the short time that Kliff and I had together. I always loved the way he played the position."

-- The Cowboys aren't the worst defense statistically – 21st in yards per play – but they do give up 156 rushing yards a game and that's a place the Cards need to exploit.

-- The Cowboys will have about 25,000 fans in the stands, a distinct departure from the road games the Cards have played this season. There were about 5,000 fans in Carolina, but last week, the stands were empty and it was eerily silent at times when the stadium sound system was turned off.

Kingsbury said "it'll provide some sort of spark, no question," even for the visiting team.

"It can't get any weirder than having no fans in the stands," wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins said. "I'm pretty sure there will be some Cardinals fans down there as well."

This should be fun. See you Monday.

Wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald makes a circus catch the last time the Cardinals played on "Monday Night Football," against the Cowboys at home in 2017.
Wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald makes a circus catch the last time the Cardinals played on "Monday Night Football," against the Cowboys at home in 2017.