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QB And Coach Take Their First Step, And Lions Aftermath

Let's just start here: Kyler Murray isn't going 15-for-19 every quarter going forward, and he's far from a finished product. No one is calling him a top 10 quarterback in the NFL yet, or even top 20. That still has to be earned. But at the same time, he isn't as bad as the dude who struggled mightily through three quarters Sunday against the Lions. He doesn't need to be replaced by Brett Hundley, and he isn't a bust (all things tweeted at me during the game.)

Sunday was life with a rookie quarterback, all wrapped up in one NFL telecast.

But sitting back after the Cardinals' oddly satisfying 27-27 tie with the Lions, you can see what the Cards saw in Murray. You can also see that there will be a learning curve not only for him, but also his head coach/playcaller as Kliff Kingsbury adjusts to NFL life. That's OK. For a rookie, in his first start, to orchestrate an 18-point fourth-quarter rally to force overtime ... that's some of that "it" factor you hope you're quarterback has.

-- The tie was the exact opposite emotionally as the Cardinals' infamous "Sunday Night Football" 6-6 tie at State Farm Stadium against the Seahawks in 2016. That tie felt like a loss. This tie felt like, if not a win, a win in spirit. Because of the aforementioned learning curve.

-- Larry Fitzgerald. What else do you say? Murray already trusts him. Fitz's ability to adjust his sight over one shoulder to the other on both his 41- and 45-yard catches was, yes, Hall-of-Fame stuff. I said it early in the offseason -- it felt like Fitz would climb back into the 100-catch, 1,000-yard range in this offense with this quarterback. Not bad to start 8-113-1.

-- By the way, on the day Fitz set the franchise record with his 235th game played, he already had more yards receiving in a game than he did in all of 2018.

-- I'm OK with punting on fourth-and-7 in OT. I understand the reasoning. Now, I would've been playing for two downs (and three) on second-and-7, trying to get three or four yards to get a manageable play coming knowing I might want to go for it on fourth. But under the circumstances, I get the punt and if Tramaine Brock doesn't drop the ball ...

-- Chandler Jones had a sack, but he dropped into coverage a lot. It was a little surprising to see, and will be something to watch going forward.

-- Meanwhile, I'm-in-my-17th-season Terrell Suggs had two sacks in his Cardinals debut, the first on a strip-sack that the Lions fell on. "I was a little disappointed in myself because I didn't recover the ball," Suggs said. "It's good to get the sack, but I think we all would have appreciated it more if I recovered the ball too."

-- I've got some pretty serious Corona del Sol High School ties, but I'd be remiss if I didn't give props to Lions linebacker Devon Kennard, a Desert Vista High product (and son of former Cardinal Derek Kennard) after he had three sacks against Murray.

-- David Johnson quietly had a very nice game: 82 yards rushing on 18 carries, 55 yards on six catches, the first touchdown on a pass from Murray. Johnson did lament that he didn't dive for the end zone on his near-rushing touchdown, a drive that ultimately fetched a field goal.

-- On missed opportunities, Brock was upfront about missing what likely would've been a game-winning interception in overtime. Dropped a pass right to him when he was looking toward the end zone. I asked safety Budda Baker about his reaction on the play. "Oh man," Baker said, shaking his head. "We'll be fining him on that. But it's alright."

-- Murray had four passes batted down at the line of scrimmage. He shrugged it off. "Hats off to them," he said. "Can't do anything about it. Guys are open and if I'm throwing the ball to them and they bat it down, good job."

-- New linebacker Jordan Hicks was all over the place. He had 14 tackles on the stat sheet and if stays healthy, that's going to be an impressive pickup for the Cards. Haason Reddick played enough Sunday to be encouraging that a full-time return should be sooner than later.

-- Without breaking down every play, it seemed like fill-in right tackle Justin Murray did a decent job considering he had been around less than a week. The whole line did fine once the offense started to click.

-- Special teams continues to be important. Trent Sherfield with some great punt covers, including the punt muff recovery. Dennis Gardeck with the partial punt block to help set up the game-tying TD drive.

-- That's enough for now. Finally there was real football to analyze. And it was pretty fun to watch -- at least from the fourth quarter on.

David Johnson catches a touchdown pass against the Lions.
David Johnson catches a touchdown pass against the Lions.

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