After losing three straight games, the Arizona Cardinals bounced back in a major way with a victory over the Dallas Cowboys. Kyler Murray regained his form in his home away from home: Jerry World. Before the Week 17 matchup, the third-year quarterback hadn’t lost at AT&T Stadium. He couldn’t have dreamed of a better place to get the struggling Cardinals back on track.
Kyler Murray is undefeated inside AT&T Stadium
Kyler Murray’s name rings bells in Texas, thanks to his prolific high school football career. The Bedford, Texas native starred at Allen High School before committing to Texas A&M.
The 2014 Gatorade Football Player of the Year has absolutely owned his opponents under the bright lights at AT&T Stadium in Arlington. Murray continued his magical run with another masterful performance.
The 25-22 victory over the Dallas Cowboys pushed Murray’s record in Jerry World to 9-0, dating back to his high school days. After the game, the Arizona Cardinals’ signal-caller opened up on keeping his undefeated streak alive.
“Coming home, I feel like I can’t lose,” said Murray per the Cardinals team website. “That’s the mentality. That’s just how I feel. I don’t know what it is, whether it’s the great fans, the stadiums. But when you play at Cowboys stadium, it’s a big game. That’s the feel around it.”
The 2-time Pro Bowler completed 26 of 38 pass attempts for 263 yards, two touchdowns, and zero interceptions. Murray finished with a passer rating of 105.5.
After losing their early-season mojo, Kyler Murray and the Cardinals played their most complete game in a long time.
The Cardinals secured much-needed victory against the Cowboys
At times, the Arizona Cardinals have looked quite reminiscent of the 2020 Pittsburgh Steelers. Kliff Kingsbury’s squad started the 2021 NFL season with a surprising 7-0 record. However, the second half of the season hasn’t been nearly as kind. Before Week 17, the wheels were off the tracks.
Arizona showed resiliency by beating the Dallas Cowboys, though. The Cardinals scored first with a Matt Prater field goal, and they never looked back.
Kyler Murray and the offense played a spectacular game, considering they did so without two key contributors in DeAndre Hopkins and James Conner. Murray and Chase Edmonds led the rushing attack (127 rushing yards), which outpaced that of the Cowboys (45 yards).
The offense also got a timely breakout performance from wide receiver Antoine Wesley. The Texas Tech product caught four passes for 30 yards and two touchdowns.
Budda Baker, Chandler Jones, and the Cardinals’ defense played an outstanding game. The unit went toe-to-toe with the league’s No. 1 offense and held them to just 22 points and 301 yards of total offense.
With so many questions surrounding if the Cardinals could contend come playoff time, they answered the bell. Still, it’s difficult to tell if this game said more about Arizona or Dallas.
Could Arizona be better off playing on the road in the NFL playoffs?
With the victory over the Cowboys, the Arizona Cardinals improved to 11-5 on the season. Kliff Kingsbury and the crew are currently the 5-seed in the NFC, heading into an all-important matchup against the Los Angeles Rams in the season finale.
The Rams are sitting atop the NFC West at 12-4 after a late win over the Baltimore Ravens. Arizona can still claim the division title if it beats LA in Week 18 by virtue of the head-to-head tiebreaker.
If the Cardinals win the NFC West, they’ll guarantee themselves at least one home game in the postseason. However, that may not help their chances of making a deep run, as strange as it sounds.
While home-field advantage is important in the playoffs, Kyler Murray and company have fared much better on the road in 2021. They’re 8-1 on the road compared to 3-4 at State Farm Stadium in Glendale, Arizona.
Even with the statement win over Dallas, it’s still difficult to get a good read on this team. How can they play so well on the road and lay eggs at home?
The Cardinals must hope that this victory can give them momentum as they head into the playoffs. Arizona is tough to beat when Kyler Murray plays like an MVP, and the defense plays like a top-5 unit.
Unfortunately, the volatility of this team still makes it hard to trust in the postseason.
All stats courtesy of Pro Football Reference.