On a day when there will likely be conversation about the draft spot(s) the Cardinals fell after their win in Philadelphia, there should also be conversation about how well the Cardinals quarterback played.
Kyler Murray missed two days of practice, and if you are missing two days of practice when you are sick, you probably aren't feeling as perky as normal when you do limited work on Friday. We've all experienced that (the coming back from illness part, not the practicing NFL football part).
Yet, aside from the miscommunication between he and Michael Wilson that led to the 99-yard interception return – and that was true miscommunication, and it happens – Murray was nearly flawless against the Eagles. He made the smart throws. He ran some. He made it work, under center and in shotgun. He orchestrated a brilliant plan by Jonathan Gannon and OC Drew Petzing to play keepaway from Jalen Hurts.
It would stun the hell out of me if the Cardinals don't just build around Murray this offseason. I've said as such before, but it just seems so obvious now.
"It was good to feel that (win)," Murray said. "With everything that's happened, a lot of disappointment this year, a lot of tough losses, but we want to try to finish the season off the right way."
-- Meanwhile, I get why Gannon says what he says, but this one had to mean so much. It would've anyway, if they had beaten any playoff team on the road when all the decisions are the right decisions. (That onside kick and the reasonings behind it, *chef's kiss.*) But while he no doubt has real love for those players and people in the organization, he was/has been treated roughly by the fan base at large. If you're human, that makes you feel some sort of way.
-- James Conner won't be in the Pro Bowl. He is a Pro Bowl player this season, however. Not even a question.
-- Conner became the first player to rush for 100 yards against the Eagles in 24 games, with his 128 yards.
-- After getting 26 rushing attempts (and one catch, for a touchdown), it was again the kind of workload Conner loves – as in a lotta. "If you get touches, you want to make something positive happen." Checked that box.
-- How effective was the Cardinals' offense? They didn't punt once all game. Blake Gillikin only got to hold. It's the first time the Cardinals didn't punt in a game since Nov. 26, 2006 in Minnesota – a day in which Matt Leinart threw for 405 yards. The Cardinals lost that game, however.
-- The Cardinals had 221 yards rushing, and 449 overall (compared to 275 for the Eagles). "I thought I blocked well in this game," tight end Trey McBride said. "It shows what we are capable of" running the ball.
-- The Cardinals were going to have a normal Monday work day despite it being New Year's Day. But Gannon gave them their first Victory Monday (they did have Christmas off but that was Christmas). The players earned that one.
-- Greg Dortch continues to impress.
-- The Eagles have one of the best receivers in the NFL in A.J. Brown and an explosive No. 2 in DeVonta Smith. But it was veteran Julio Jones, nearing his 35th birthday and a shell of his one-time All-Pro self, that got the Cardinals on Sunday. Jones had two touchdowns – after totaling just seven catches for 27 yards and a score in the previous nine games he had played this season.
-- The Cardinals had a fourth-and-1 and brought in Clayton Tune. Would've been cool/funny to execute a Brotherly Shove in Philly. Instead, Tune flipped it to James Conner for a first down run. (Of course Conner converted.)
-- Briefly talked to LT D.J. Humphries, who was on crutches after hurting his left knee. I'm going to guess he won't be playing in the finale, but he said his injury wasn't as bad as the one he had before – when he tore his ACL. Cornerback Garrett Wilson also left with a right ankle injury.
-- Backup safety Joey Blount was just hoping earlier this season to get some defensive snaps. He ended up with the interception on Jalen Hurts' final Hail Mary attempt.
"The defense did what we were supposed to do," Blount said. "We felt like we were controlling the game."
He smiled. "I'm sorry, I could keep talking and talking." He admitted he has been coached just to knock down the final ball but "in the moment, you definitely want to catch the rock."
-- A loooong flight home upcoming. Will be easier given the results. That's all for tonight.