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Ezekiel Turner Proves Special In Close Win Over Eagles

Notes: Fitzgerald catches first touchdown pass of season; Gardeck carted off with injury

Special teams ace Ezekiel Turner celebrates his 26-yard reception on a fake punt.
Special teams ace Ezekiel Turner celebrates his 26-yard reception on a fake punt.

The Big Three did it again as Kyler Murray, DeAndre Hopkins and Ezekiel Turner led the Cardinals to a 33-26 win over the Eagles on Sunday.

Wait, Ezekiel Turner?

For one day at least, the reserve linebacker proved as crucial to the Cardinals' fortunes as the stars, coming up with a pair of major special teams plays in the victory.

Turner, a former undrafted rookie in 2018, blocked a punt in the first quarter and then caught a fake punt pass in the fourth. The first play gave the offense the ball at the Philadelphia 6, and was quickly followed up by a Chase Edmonds touchdown. While the possession after the fake punt ended with a turnover on downs, the Eagles did not take over with great field position.

The blocked punt was the second of the season for Turner, who had another important one in the season-opening victory against the 49ers.

"I don't know what it looks like on tape, but I didn't feel anyone come to me or try to block me," Turner said. "So I just sent it after the punter and helped put our team in a good position."

Special teams play is second nature to Turner at this point, who is now a core member of the unit. However, he had to harken back to his high school days when the fake punt was called.

Turner took off down the middle of the field and punter Andy Lee lofted a perfect pass into his arms for a 26-yard gain.

"He threw it before he was even looking, which is insane," coach Kliff Kingsbury said. "His throw was 10 out of 10. I thought there was no way we were hitting that when he wasn't even looking at the ball, but it was perfect."

The Cardinals made the call on a fourth-and-2 from their 33, so an incompletion would have given the Eagles fantastic field position in the fourth quarter of a tie game.

"They gave us a look that we had been practicing against all week," Turner said. "It hadn't shown up all game, but we finally got it at the perfect time."


Murray was made aware this week that wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald entered Week 15 without a touchdown catch.

The quarterback wasn't going to force-feed it, but he did announce plans to find Fitzgerald in the end zone against the Eagles.

"He kind of put it into the universe," Kingsbury said.

The duo connected in the second quarter, when Murray rolled out and gave Fitzgerald a chance against one-on-one coverage in the back corner of the end zone. Fitzgerald corralled the throw to give the Cardinals a 26-14 lead.

Hopkins had the game-winner later in the contest, but he said Fitzgerald's grab was more impressive.

"That dude's like 10 years older than me," Hopkins said. "I hope I can do that at 40-something. I mean, 30-something."


Outside linebacker Dennis Gardeck continued his sensational season with two sacks, increasing his total to seven on the year. His playing time grew in the second half and he was consistently wreaking havoc on Philadelphia quarterback Jalen Hurts.

Gardeck left the game on the final Eagles possession, hopping off the field to the bench. After a few minutes, he was carted to the locker room. There was no update on the severity after the game.

Tight end Maxx Williams also left the game with an ankle injury. He has dealt with an ankle issue for most of the season, although it's unclear if it was an aggravation or a new injury.

Williams had a nifty 42-yard catch-and-run in the first quarter to set up the Cardinals' first touchdown.