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Cardinals Lose Kyler Murray, But Win Impressively In Seattle

Rookie quarterback sidelined with hamstring injury in 27-13 victory over Seahawks

Wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald (smiling) is hugged by teammates Andy Isabella (89) and Christian Kirk (13) after Fitzgerald scored a touchdown Sunday in Seattle.
Wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald (smiling) is hugged by teammates Andy Isabella (89) and Christian Kirk (13) after Fitzgerald scored a touchdown Sunday in Seattle.

SEATTLE – Brett Hundley just smiled, because there really wasn't any other way to describe his day Sunday other than "fun."

"It was cool to get out there with the guys," said Hundley , the Cardinals' backup quarterback (and former Seahawk) said after replacing starter Kyler Murray in the third quarter at CenturyLink Field with an upset at hand. "To come back to Seattle, it was fun. I have to give my hat's off to the O-line and the running backs for doing what they do because all I did was hand the ball off."

It was a little more complicated than that. Then again, how could it not be fun after the Cardinals toppled the Seahawks yet again in Seattle, this time 27-13 even though Murray – the engine that makes the Cardinals go – left with a hamstring injury that left his availability for next week's season finale in Los Angeles in doubt.

Coach Kliff Kingsbury said he didn't know yet if Murray would be able to play against the Rams.

"I wouldn't put myself in any situation if I couldn't be myself or play my game," Murray said. "I wouldn't want to put the team in jeopardy.

"But it's feels good to get the win. I woke up this morning feeling we'd get the win."

The Cardinals (5-9-1) might have other ways to potentially pull off a season-ending three-game winning streak, however. If Kenyan Drake can keep running like he has – the back had 166 yards on the ground against the Seahawks, setting his career-high for a second straight week, including the game-clinching touchdown –then the offense has a head start with Hundley.

If Chandler Jones can dominate – he had four sacks against Russell Wilson, raising his total to an NFL-leading 19 and breaking his own franchise record with a game left, along with a pair of forced fumbles – then the pass rush is scary.

If the defense can play like it did – with safeties Budda Baker and Jalen Thompson shining in the state where they played in college and Haason Reddick making a difference at his new outside linebacker spot – then Hundley will have less pressure on him.

"I'm not sure it was our best game," Kingsbury said. "But all three phases rose up together probably better than we had all season."

The Seahawks, who came into the game as the No. 1 seed in the NFC, had an 89-yard touchdown drive on their first possession. It seemed easy. Then they got nothing.

(The Seahawks also lost top running back Chris Carson for the season with a hip injury, a rough blow before the playoffs, and announced starting tackle Duane Brown – who sat out the game – was also done for the year.)

The offensive pieces Seattle was missing hurt. Jones was dominant from the jump in becoming only the third player, and the first since 1986, to record two four-sack games in one season.

"I was fixing to have a big game," said Jones, who insisted he wasn't thinking about having an outside shot at Michael Strahan's NFL record 22½ sacks in a season.

The other player fixing to have a big game was Drake, who busted off an 80-yard touchdown run the first play after the Seahawks' initial scoring drive, allowing the Cardinals to get back some balance and a second chance for the defense to hold up.

The Cardinals rushed for 253 yards, the third time they have cracked the 200-yard mark as a team this season and the second straight game. They averaged 6.3 yards a carry, and leaned on the run heavily after Murray went out.

Murry got hurt on a third-down scramble right before a Zane Gonzalez field goal put the Cards up 20-7 with 11:36 left in the third quarter. So much game remained. Yet Hundley stepped forward, completing key passes like a 28-yarder to tight end Maxx Williams, and scrambling for gains of 12 and 14 yards on the final touchdown drive.

Kingsbury said it was important for the offense to remain aggressive even with Hundley in the game, and "he found a way to get it done."

The Seahawks felt some momentum with Murray's injury and then a later blocked field goal that gave Seattle the ball at the Arizona 16 down just 10 points with plenty of time left.

But on third-and-short, linebacker Jordan Hicks shot through the line to take down third-string running back Travis Homer, and the Seahawks were forced to kick a field goal. Quarterback Russell Wilson and crew never were able to score a touchdown again after that opening drive, and the Cardinals' rushing total of 253 yards were more than the Seahawks had in total yards (224).

"In the words of P2 (Patrick Peterson), we've heard the chatter," Hicks said. "We've heard the talk. At the end of the day, this defense has stuck together, this defense has gone to work every single day, in the dark times, in the good times, and we've leaned on each other. We knew we were dangerous when we did things right. It was a matter of continuously getting better."

Murray, who completed 11-of-18 passes for 118 yards and a touchdown to Larry Fitzgerald along with 40 rushing yards before he got hurt, was mostly disappointed that it took as long as it did for the offense to start clicking this season.

"It's unfortunate how bad we were in the beginning of the year," Murray said. "I feel so much more confident … and I think it's pretty evident, so easy to tell."

Whether or not Murray will get a chance to expand on that process in the last game is to-be-determined. But the Cardinals will revel in another win in Seattle nonetheless.

"To able to point to something ... knocking off the top seed we can definitely point to that and try to build off it," Kingsbury said.

Images from the Week 16 matchup in Seattle

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