Three hundred and 35 days after he was carted off the field in Glendale, Arizona, with a torn ACL, Kyler Murray captained his Cardinals to a comeback triumph.
One point down with 2 minutes and 33 seconds to go, Murray used his arm, his surgically repaired knee and ample amounts of clutch play to drive the Cardinals to a 25-23 win over the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday following a 23-yard Matt Prater field goal.
“At that point, you got to make your mind up,” said Murray of taking over trailing, 23-22. “There’s no quit. No quit. No quit in that group and I think we showed that today.”
Rookie head coach Jonathan Gannon wasn’t sure what to expect as he coached Murray in a live game for the first time. Nonetheless, he was happy with the performance and the result.
“Honestly, I didn’t have any expectation,” he said. “Like I told you guys all week, I was just happy that the guy was back because I know what he went through to get back to this point. Less than a year from a major injury and to play at the level he played today. He just broke down the team and just said, ‘I got to be better.’ There’s a lot of meat on that bone from the offensive side and that’s what he’ll continue to do.”
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Any tempered expectations for Murray’s return were dashed as he doubled the win total of the Cardinals (2-8) with 249 passing yards (19 of 32 for no touchdowns, one interception) and 33 yards rushing with a 6-yard TD in the second quarter. Though his statistics didn’t glisten, his full-throttle play and ability to captain a comeback did.
Facing third-and-10 from his own 42-yard line, Murray offered ample proof of just how healthy is his when he scrambled backward away from pressure, switched the field and sprinted for 13 yards and the conversion.
“At the end of the day, if it comes down to it being in my hands, I got to make something happen,” Murray said. “I didn’t see anything downfield, so, they honestly, I thought they had a pretty good contain, but you know God blessed me to be able to do things like that and that’s kind of what happened for me.”
Two plays later he hit Trey McBride for a 33-yard gain. It wasn’t the greatest throw by Murray, but he made plays and the completion allowed the Cardinals to run down the clock and position themselves for the big-booted Prater to convert an easy, short make.
It culminated months of anticipation for Murray’s return. Murray admitted the magnitude of the game wasn’t lost on him, but it ultimately ended with what he was looking for the most.
“Throughout the week, I tried to stay calm, cool, collected,” Murray said. “As it got closer today, you know, wake up early, go home, have a lot of time at the house before driving to the stadium. That s— in your chest starts to build up. I’m trying to calm it down because, obviously, we got to play a game. Can’t be too amped up. But it was kind of inevitable. I thought I did a good job of not really letting the emotions and everything get to me throughout this week. Obviously, it had been a big week, but at the end of the day, just trying to come out here and get a win. That was the mindset.”
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