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As Lions Visit, Undefeated Cardinals Refuse To Be Crowned

Players not enamored by 2-0 start to the season

QB Kyler Murray scores a rushing touchdown against Washington on Sunday.
QB Kyler Murray scores a rushing touchdown against Washington on Sunday.

Jordan Phillips was brought in to take down opposing quarterbacks, but on Tuesday, the veteran defensive tackle sacked a question from the local media.

After a 2-0 start, there has been plenty of praise heaped on the Cardinals, and this particular query centered on the strength of the revamped defensive front seven.

"Don't crown us," said Phillips, evoking memories of Dennis Green's infamous post-Monday Night meltdown rant in 2006. "Don't do anything crazy. We've got a lot more to show."

While outsiders may want to prepare the throne, the pushback was a common refrain from the team this week.

The wire-to-wire win over Washington on Sunday was impressive, and upcoming games against the Lions, Panthers and Jets leave plenty of room for optimism. However, with Sunday's home matchup against Detroit looming, the Cardinals are pumping the brakes as much as they can.

"For me, personally, I've done nothing," quarterback Kyler Murray said. "As a team, I feel like we've done nothing. We've just got to continue to work."

The Lions come to town without a win, and have the ignominious distinction of being the first team in history to lose four straight games after holding a double-digit lead.

While that's an unenviable record, it does show that Detroit has been able to grab the upper hand on both the Bears and Packers in the first two games.

"We don't want to be put in a situation like the previous two teams have, by trying to come back from a deficit that the Lions put on them," running back Kenyan Drake said. "We want to start fast and have them play catch-up, because I'm sure it's something they've worked on this week."

The Lions have the toughest passing game the Cardinals will have seen through three weeks, even if Matthew Stafford hasn't quite hit on all cylinders in the earlygoing.

Detroit can also rely on the ageless Adrian Peterson in the backfield, as he is averaging 6.4 yards per carry in the first two games.

"Big, physical, tough, and he still has an explosive step," coach Kliff Kingsbury said. "It's just incredible, at that position, to watch a guy who has done it for that many years still play at that high of a level."

The Cardinals have leaned on the defense the first two weeks but this could be a game where the offense hits its stride. The Lions are allowing an NFL-worst 6.5 yards per carry, and the Cardinals are averaging 170 rushing yards per game on the strength of Murray’s electric legs.

The Lions have given up five touchdowns through the air in two games and have yet to nab an interception. They have only accumulated two sacks and have the worst pass-rush win rate in the NFL by a considerable margin, a departure from the menacing fronts the Cardinals saw to open the year.

Detroit likes playing man-to-man coverage, which could make the short passes harder but open up the intermediate and deep passing game, even without the injured Christian Kirk.

"There won't be the free access stuff, and they'll walk down in your face and give you multiple looks," Kingsbury said. "We have to be ready to handle that and adjust on the fly. It'll definitely be a huge challenge."

Kingsbury has harped on negative plays all week, intent on cleaning up the penalties and other miscues that has put the team in third-and-long too often.

"That's no way to make a living," he said.

The self-critiques were so plentiful that, based on the comments alone, it would have been surprising to know the Cardinals are 2-0 for the first time since 2015.

For wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald, remaining unsatisfied despite the favorable results is a key to success the rest of the way.

"The last two weeks haven't been good enough for us," Fitzgerald said. "Do we have wins? Yes. But we haven't played to the level we're capable of playing and we need to fix that. We've got holes in our own boat, and we need to plug those holes."