NASHVILLE, Tennessee – They knew. They said all along they knew.
Kyler Murray said he and the offense would be fine if they didn't play preseason snaps. DeAndre Hopkins raved about what the unit could – and would – be.
And that's what the Cardinals were on offense Sunday, in their season-opening domination of the Titans in Tennessee, 38-13. They had 416 yards. They had 136 yards rushing – only 20 of them by Murray. Murray looked like a quarterback advancing to that next level. Rondale Moore added an element to the unit that had otherwise been absent.
"You guys in the media were panicking after one preseason game, so we felt like we had to calm (you down a) little bit," Hopkins said, smiling. "We knew what we were going to be like."
Other than early penalties – a bugaboo that still must still be quelled – complaints would be disingenuous. Murray made one poor decision, an interception that led to a Titans' touchdown to start the second half. But Murray made sure the Cardinals answered with a touchdown drive of their own.
"There's adversity in every game," Murray said. "That was a little bit of ours, and we faced it."
It helps to have next-level talents like Murray and Hopkins. Who else are going to combine to save what would have been a disaster – the near-fumble return for a touchdown by defensive tackle Corey Peters to the Tennessee 1, only to have penalties threaten to force a field goal? Third down, Murray is flushed right, and somehow, finds Hopkins along the backline
"The play is never over until he's on the ground," Hopkins said.
Or when Murray somehow weaved and bobbed his way out of two or three potential sacks – 43 yards of running all told – before firing an 18-yard strike to Moore.
"That was a great play call, wasn't it?" coach Kliff Kingsbury quipped.
Or the time when Murray, on the zero all-comers blitz, dropped the ball over the top clean for a 26-yard score to Christian Kirk. Props to Murray and Kirk for the excellent execution, and props to the coaching staff for have repped just such a play in practice.
Kirk caught that ball too.
"I kind of knew it was going to be the same thing," Kirk said. "So, once I saw it coming behind my head, I just knew that I had to adjust and look up into the air and know with him, and his talent and his ability to place the ball, I just knew I had to run right underneath it."
The nine snaps of the preseason never mattered to Murray, and they certainly don't matter to anyone now.
"Man, he won the game," Hopkins said. "At the end of the day, it says W or a loss. He had five touchdowns. He prepared like he was going to have five touchdowns. He demanded everybody else to be on their A-game. When we messed up, Kyler was the first one on us."