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Three Pass-Rushing Dudes To Root For, And Giants Aftermath

The Cardinals, in all the years I have covered them, have always had a pretty good locker room of guys. Jerks are few and far between. But there are guys that come through that are easy to root for. That's what stood out to me Sunday – because the trio of Cards that collected all those sacks? Those are three of those guys.

Dennis Gardeck? The Pat Tillman-esque Gardeck? Sure, get two more sacks (to get to five on the season) when you get so few opportunities. Gardeck has always made the most of his chances, so why wouldn't he do it trying to get the quarterback? Markus Golden, another one. Junk doesn't always get home, but it's never for lack of trying, and the last two road games, he's made huge plays to open the game and put the Cards in the best position early. Both guys are tremendous to talk to and see succeed.

But so is Haason Reddick. One of the reasons you always hoped he found himself was because you could see how badly he wanted to do it himself. He wasn't a fit at inside linebacker. He was frustrated many times. But he worked as hard as he could to make it work. Now, doing what he loves, it shows. Five sacks in one game? Ten this season? The Cards need him to keep producing – he was sackless and QB hitless since Week 7, before Sunday – but when you thought the pass rush was totally lost when Chandler Jones went down, Reddick provided something you never thought he could get. You have to be happy for him.

-- Kliff Kingsbury said the Cardinals will have to see what Zane Gonzalez's status is with his back before knowing what happens next week at kicker. Mike Nugent was solid Sunday, making all four field goals and two extra points, but none of the field goals were longer than 37 yards, and Gonzalez hasn't missed inside 40 yards either. (Nugent also was straight but short on a 55-yard attempt that ultimately got wiped out on a false start).

-- It was kind of funny to hear Kingsbury talk about how excited he was for Nugent – who kicked for the Cardinals in 2009 as a brief injury replacement for Neil Rackers – because "I was a teammate of Mike's with the Jets, so I've known him a long time." Yes, Kingsbury the NFL player was teammates with Nugent, his current kicker, back in 2005. Yes, Nugent has been around a minute.

-- Kingsbury didn't have any injury updates, but it's never a good sign when defensive lineman Jordan Phillips lasts only one possession after coming off IR with a hamstring injury and then re-injures the hamstring (running downfield to block for Markus Golden on the fumble return, of all things.) We'll also have to see where Justin Pugh is with his calf injury, although that's one of the reasons Justin Murray has been playing so much – if there is an injury, he'd be ready.

-- Kyler Murray was under center more Sunday than he's been all season. There were some adjustments being made. Like Murray said, there are still things to improve. It feels like that fourth-and-goal they couldn't covert on the first possession was one they got every time earlier in the year.

-- I know Murray doesn't love the stat, and it may just be coincidence the Cardinals are 0-11-1 when Murray runs five or less times and 12-5 when he runs six or more. But it was evident the Cards are more comfortable all the way around when Murray can move and scramble if needed. The Giants didn't mush rush and let Murray have lanes, and I gotta say, I was surprised.

-- Larry Fitzgerald looked like he played a decent amount of snaps in his game back, although Murray didn't look his way much (or Christian Kirk's way either). Fitz did have a couple catches to get his streak to 254 games straight.

-- Didn't get a chance to ask him, obviously, but is there any chance Kylie Fitts kicked loose that punt return fumble on purpose? Whatever happened, it was a hell of a play.

-- I thought Dre Kirkpatrick played a great game and Byron Murphy Jr. played pretty well too, and tough combo for the Giants when they were already dealing with a hellacious pass rush.

-- As the game went on, Kenyan Drake had a solid day running, although he was lucky two straight fumbles found their way into teammates' hands.

-- The Cardinals were the first team to have at least eight sacks and five forced fumbles in a game since the Buccaneers had eight and eight against the Packers Dec. 7, 1998.

-- DeAndre Hopkins now is 4-for-4 with 100-yard games at MetLife Stadium.

-- Big home game against the Eagles and a surprisingly effective Jalen Hurts next week. We'll see what Junk, Gardeck and Haason have to say about things.

That's it for tonight.

Arizona Cardinals linebacker Markus Golden (44) knocks the ball away from New York Giants quarterback Daniel Jones (8) during an NFL football game, Sunday, Dec. 13, 2020, in East Rutherford, N.J
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