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A Road Trip That Counts, And Titans Aftermath

I thought Kyler Murray was going to play well Sunday. I thought the Cardinals would score some points. I didn't know the defense was going to be that dominant, or that Chandler Jones – who has looked excellent in camp – would be five-sacks-in-a-game excellent.

There is still a former entire NFL regular season to go – 16 games – for the Cards. They started well last year (but not this well.) It was good to hear Murray and Budda Baker want no part of statement talk or anything more than next week's game against the Vikings. Seriously, though, Murray looked better. The offense, with a little more at-the-snap motion and a piece in Rondale Moore they didn't have before, looks better. The defense definitely looked better, and that happens when your best pass rusher is dominating.

A good day in Nashville all around.

-- That first TD from Murray to DeAndre Hopkins was the result of two magnificent players. The play broke. They made sure it still paid off. Plays matter, but you gotta have talent, and the Cards definitely have some on the roster.

-- It'll be interesting to see what happens with Jones and his contract. It's no secret he wants an extension. Do the sides talk soon? I'm guessing even if they do, it'll be quiet and in the background. But man, Jones was so good.

-- The last time the Cardinals scored on their first two possessions of the season – which they did Sunday with a field goal and TD – came back in 2006, in a win over the 49ers during the first regular-season game at the brand-new Cardinals Stadium, as it was called that day.

-- Hopkins' reverse pivot on his 17-yard TD catch-and-run? Thing of beauty. I mean, there were a handful of awesome gifs that could've come out of what Hop and Murray and Jones did Sunday.

-- The Cardinals are the first team since the 1999 Chiefs (Leslie O'Neal and Derrick Thomas) and Vikings (Chris Doleman and John Randle) to have two players with 100 career sacks on the same roster. Jones needed three sacks coming into Sunday to get to triple digits. With five, he actually passed J.J. Watt (101).

-- Watt didn't have any sacks, but he played well and was a force. I have to go back and look, but I think on one of Jones' sacks the Titans used three blockers on him. Which probably wasn't a good idea.

-- Jones also drew two false starts in the game.

-- The awesome Kyler play-action two-yard run for a touchdown – to the right – started when the formation featured Watt and fellow defensive lineman Leki Fotu as fullbacks offset left in front of running back James Conner. Coach Kliff Kingsbury said the formation was called "MegaWatt." I like it.

-- Too many penalties early. But they faded, and then you have to wonder how much of it was being amped – Darrell Daniels false-start on the 1 after the Corey Peters non-touchdown felt like a guy who was too hyped to wait. Can't happen, as Kingsbury said, but let's see what happens in the next game or two.

-- Julio Jones and A.J. Brown were basically non-factors. Byron Murphy played incredibly well (save for the one flea-flicker mistake, but his closing speed to make the tackle, wow.) And rookie Marco Wilson was solid.

-- Jordan Hicks played the whole game, and wore the green dot to call the defenses. Zaven Collins did not play as much. Thursday DC Vance Joseph will talk and he'll be asked about the situation, but whether or not it played out like Hicks expected, he certainly played like a starter.

-- You know you're having a good game when one of the best athletes in the world in a different sport is noticing your play and tweeting about it.

That's all for now. I'm going to work on a Kyler sider on the way home, so check that out later.

Arizona Cardinals wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins (10) catches a touchdown pass as he is defended by Tennessee Titans cornerback Jackrabbit Jenkins (20) in the first half of an NFL football game Sunday, Sept. 12, 2021, in Nashville, Tenn. (AP Photo/Mark Zaleski)