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Cardinals Seek Clean Up Before Aiming For 3-0 Start

Notes: Hamilton helps after Wilson injury; Kingsbury's Skywalker aspirations

Cornerback Antonio Hamilton does a backflip in celebration of the Cardinals' win on Sunday over the Vikings.
Cornerback Antonio Hamilton does a backflip in celebration of the Cardinals' win on Sunday over the Vikings.

When Vikings kicker Greg Joseph missed his final field goal Sunday to secure the Cardinals' 34-33 win, Cardinals players and coaches hugged and high-fived in celebration. A crowd of nearly 61,000 went ballistic inside State Farm Stadium, and owner Michael Bidwill jumped into the arms of safety Chris Banjo in celebration.

Once Monday arrived, the 2-0 Cardinals had to start thinking about a trip to Jacksonville, and what had to be corrected despite the win.

"We have to do a better job taking care of the football," coach Kliff Kingsbury said. "We had, I think, 11 negative plays on offense that hurt us, put us behind the chains, and ended drives."

Quarterback Kyler Murray put together another impressive performance -- completing 29-of-36 passes for 400 yards, three touchdowns and a passer rating of 117.6. But the signal-caller also threw two interceptions, including a pick-six returned by linebacker Nick Vigil in the third quarter.

Penalties have been problematic for an team that finished with the most penalties in 2020, including the most offensive penalties and accepted offensive penalties. On the Cardinals' first offensive series Sunday linemen D.J. Humphries and Kelvin Beachum were called for false starts back-to-back, leading to a forced punt.

Murray was left frustrated at times, but like Kingsbury, he is focused on correcting the mistakes.

"At the end of the day, we got the 'W' that's really all that matters," Murray said. "We're 2-0, at the end of the day this is the NFL, it's not easy to win and we're 2-0. Onto the next week, soak it up, accept what happened today and we're going to Jacksonville next week."

After limiting Titans running back Derrick Henry to a meaningless 58 yards Week One, the Cardinals defense did not have the same success against Minnesota's Dalvin Cook, who had 96 yards by halftime before finishing the game with a season-high 131 yards on 22 carries.

The Cardinals' run defense performed better in the second half, as did the secondary, which had allowed quarterback Kirk Cousins to throw three touchdowns in the first half. But the Cards would like to find more consistency.

"Defensively, the first half -- we didn't slow down that run game," Kingsbury said. "We did a nice job in the second half, making some adjustments to slow it down. But we can't let teams get off to that type of start."


Kingsbury said cornerback Marco Wilson is day-to-day after the rookie left Sunday's game with an ankle injury. Antonio Hamilton, who has been elevated from the practice squad in both games, was Wilson's replacement and impressed -- recording a couple of solo tackles and a pass deflection.

Although Hamilton reverted to the practice squad Monday, his play caught the attention of the coaching staff.

"We were really impressed with the way he competed," Kingsbury said. "For a guy who has only been here for a couple weeks and only had a few reps defensively, he stepped in and played at a high-level for us -- and made some plays. That was good to see. We have to get him more attuned with our scheme and what we're trying to do, but I really like how he competed."


After Murray scrambled for the 17th rushing touchdown in his career, the most in franchise history by a quarterback -- people assumed Murray's end zone celebration was a reference to "Baby Yoda," something Chandler Jones called the signal-caller last week.

But Murray said he has never seen Star Wars before, and the celebration was not to imitate the Star Wars character. Kingsbury said Monday he was not aware of the "Baby Yoda" saga between the stars, but did respond to the signal-caller's comments on the matter.

"I was pretty heartbroken that Kyler has never seen Star Wars before because from about age four to nine, I wanted nothing more in life than to be Luke Skywalker," Kingsbury said. "I think he could learn something from that trilogy."

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