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Dominating Victory Doesn't Mean More Than Just One Win For Cardinals

After struggles down stretch in 2020, team isn't getting ahead in its thoughts

Wide receiver Christian Kirk runs upfield after one of his five catches on Sunday.
Wide receiver Christian Kirk runs upfield after one of his five catches on Sunday.

Kyler Murray wasn't getting ahead of himself Sunday, nor was Budda Baker.

The Cardinals did dismantle the Titans, 38-13, in their opener over the Titans, a potential AFC contender. But there are still 16 games to go, and there are reasons for caution.

"I think the guys that were here last year understand how we started and how we finished," coach Kliff Kingsbury said Monday. We all understand that it's just the first game and that we have a long way to go."

Yes, the Cardinals offense -- led by Murray -- accumulated more than 400 total yards and five touchdowns, a feat not reached in a season opener since 1980.

Yes, the defense -- starring behind linebacker Chandler Jones' historic single-game sack performance, shut down the Titans' offense and its top three weapons. Derrick Henry, the NFL's leading rusher the past two seasons, was held to just 58 yards on 17 carries, and six attempts went for zero or negative yards. Star receiver A.J. Brown and future Hall of Fame receiver Julio Jones finished with just seven receptions combined.

The Cardinals, however, want to avoid the pitfall of last year, when the team began the season strong at 6-3, collapsed, and missed the postseason. This season is about not only the start but the finish, which is why the players echoed Kingsbury's sentiments and only eye this week's home opener against the Minnesota Vikings.

"(The Titans were) just another game," Baker said. "One game today; we are good. Slash it off, erase it. No statement at all, just 1-0. One-and-oh mentality, take it one week at a time, one day at a time, and we will go from there. Tomorrow we are back to playing game two at home. That's definitely going to be exciting playing with the Red Sea with all the fans."

Receiver Christian Kirk -- who played well against Tennessee (5 catches, 70 yards, 2 TDs) -- said he's never seen the team as focused before.

"We hear the outside noise," Kirk said. "We all hear it. And I think for us, you try to tend to tell yourself, 'Oh, don't listen to it,' but for us, we want to be great. We want to be recognized as one of the better teams. Like I said, this is a great win. It feels good, but it's only one game and we still have a lot of work to go."

The Rams, Seahawks and 49ers all won Sunday, underscoring why the division is considered the toughest in football. If the Cardinals maintain their level of discipline and focus, this team has a reason to feel they can be in the mix as much as the other three.

"How do you sustain it? You've got to keep working hard," Murray said. "Keep that mindset, and that's what we'll do. I won't let our offense get complacent. We know how good we can be. We know the sky's the limit for us."

EXTRA POINTS

Kingsbury said right tackle Kelvin Beachum is "day to day" with the ribs injury he suffered Sunday. ...

Despite the amount of work Jordan Hicks got on Sunday and how much less Zaven Collins played at linebacker, Kingsbury said determination of playing time will be "week-to-week."

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