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Celebrating Kyler's Comeback, And Falcons Aftermath

Postgame party atmospheres are reserved for wins, so hearing the bass rattle the walls just outside the Cardinals locker room after Sunday's dramatic win over the Falcons, that wasn't really a surprise. But the win was so much more than just the 25-23 score, or snapping a losing streak. Kyler Murray's return made it more, because of not just what it meant in the moment but what it meant perhaps for the future.

That Kyler Murray? That's a player a team can build around, especially factoring in the inexperience he has in the current offense and knowing some of the hiccups can be massaged out. Knowing GM Monti Ossenfort will continue to improve the roster.

"It's a big victory for us," said running back James Conner, himself making a triumphant return from injury. "How else would it be for him to come back off a knee and have to go lead us down the field and make the plays he made on that drive specifically for us to put the game away. Beautiful."

The Cardinals have moved to third in the live draft order, and my guess is they will continue in that direction. Murray makes a dramatic impact – Jonathan Gannon's team is simply different with K1 behind center – and the Cardinals match up differently now.

Next week's game against the team of which they also hold the first-round pick for in the Texans gets pretty interesting too.

But that's next week. For Sunday night, the Cardinals celebrate. A win. A returning quarterback. Hope.

"I was a little late, you know, had a couple interviews after the thing but I got in there and music was loud," McBride said. "Guys are jumping around and dancing. You know, it was fun. It's fun and it felt good to be back. It felt awesome."

-- Antonio Hamilton went through some things at the end of Sunday's game. The veteran cornerback was called for a crucial 32-yard pass interference that set up the touchdown allowing the Falcons to take the lead with 2:33 left. But he also made a fantastic tackle on Drake London on the Falcons' two-point conversion, driving London sideways out of bounds before he could cross the goal-line and making sure a field goal could win the game for the Cardinals.

"I think that was a bit of a test of my faith, whether I would fold under pressure or step up," Hamilton said. "The call happened … I knew I couldn't stop playing. The two-point play came, they threw the ball at me again, and I knew I had to make a play. I stopped it, and Kyler and (Matt) Prater did the rest."

-- There will be a lot of talk about Murray's use, but quick note: Murray was under center nine times in the game, out of his 63 offensive snaps. For now, he remains shotgun-heavy, which really isn't a surprise. The Cardinals did do some effective play-action out of shotgun a couple of times.

-- McBride sure looks like he is developing into a potential star. Certainly the best young tight end the Cardinals have had perhaps since they moved to Arizona.

-- Another 4-for-4 field-goal day for Prater, including boots from 51 and 56 yards. "Wherever the offense sends me out to kick from, I expect to make them," he said. "Whether it's a 20-yarder or a 50-yarder they're all the same to me."

-- The Cardinals had more net yards (63) on their first drive for a field goal (which did come after an initial three-and-out) than they had the entire Browns game the week before (58).

-- Clayton Tune will have a role, and it's as short-yardage QB. The rookie was in for two plays, pitching the ball to Conner (for a four-yard gain) on fourth-and-inches, and later scoring his first NFL touchdown on the now-famous QB shove play inside the 1.

"That's not easy to do coming in a game cold and getting a snap and scoring," Gannon said. "He had a great week of practice. A really good week of practice. He came back the right way after getting beat up a little bit, and that's how coaches and players need to respond when you get beat up a little bit. It shows your true character."

-- It wasn't all perfect. Murray just barely overthrew Hollywood Brown for a potential touchdown int eh first half. He had Brown open (and had McBride uncovered 10 yards downfield too). But that's a pass with touch that likely is made in a couple weeks when Murray isn't rusty any longer.

-- The Cardinals had 11 penalties for 112 yards and that isn't going to work. Some of the pre-snap issues should fade as the offense gets used to Murray, however.

-- It went under the radar, but like McBride starring as the 2022 second-round pick, the 2023 second-round pick, linebacker BJ Ojulari, had his first two-sack game and is starting to find his way.

I'm not going to party, but I am going to go home. That's enough for tonight.

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