CINCINNATI – Kliff Kingsbury’s Air Raid was grounded Sunday – on purpose.
The Cardinals’ coach went to the rushing attack early and often against the Bengals and with it came great results. The team amassed 266 yards and two touchdowns at 7.0 yards per carry in the 26-23 win.
Quarterback Kyler Murray used a combination of designed runs and scrambles to compile 93 rushing yards and a touchdown on 10 carries. David Johnson had 17 attempts for 91 yards, while Chase Edmonds added eight carries for 68 yards and a score.
“I told Coach in the fourth quarter that I looked up and we had 230 yards on the ground,” Murray said. “We finally implemented it. You saw what we did today running the ball, and I think that helped us out a lot.”
The Cardinals were among the league leaders in passing attempts through the first four weeks, and while some of that was philosophy, another reason was the constant deficits the team faced.
The Cardinals never trailed in this one, allowing Kingsbury to use the entire playbook.
“Staying on schedule is what I’ve harped to (the media) for the first month,” Kingsbury said. “We were behind and in ‘10’ personnel and throwing it a ton. That’s not who we truly want to be, but out of necessity we were doing that. I think when we stay on schedule and mix our offense up better, we’ll be more effective.”
Both of the Cardinals’ touchdowns came on the ground. Murray faked a handoff on fourth-and-2 from the 6 in the first quarter and ran a naked bootleg to the end zone’s near left pylon.
Edmonds added a 37-yard score on a toss play in the fourth, which gave the Cardinals a 14-point lead.
“Me and David are starting to get more touches and we’re getting things rolling,” Edmonds said. “It’s a great feeling. And shout-out to the guys up front. They did a hell of a job of dominating the line of scrimmage.”
Murray did the best job of his young career at being decisive, hanging in the pocket when the pressure wasn’t there and bolting when a running lane emerged. His 24-yard scramble with under a minute to go set up the game-winning field goal by Zane Gonzalez.
“I was going to Chase, because of his matchup on a linebacker,” Murray said. “He ended up slipping, and at that point, with time running down, I had to just make a play.”
The Bengals seemed to be taking away some of the Cardinals’ downfield throws in the first half, which was a common sight the previous two weeks. Kingsbury put the trust in his players up front and they paved massive holes.
“O-line did a tremendous job blocking it up,” Kingsbury said.
Johnson injured his back in the first half but stayed in the game. He wasn’t sure when it happened, but does not expect it to keep him out of any action moving forward.
“I’ll be good,” Johnson said.
Left tackle D.J. Humphries was asked if he envisioned Kingsbury ever going this run-heavy in a game.
“Kliff is smart,” Humphries said. “He knows we have to run the ball. He ain’t no fool about it. It was just him getting in that rhythm. A lot of times, if you haven’t done something and it doesn’t look good, you don’t want to go back to it. So for him to see certain stuff and get those positive yards – it’s always easier for a coordinator to run something when you got nine yards the play before.”