Murray scored five touchdowns and Jones had a career-high five sacks as the Cardinals simply dominated the Tennessee Titans 38-13 Sunday for a big road win to open the season.
“I won’t let our offense get complacent,” Murray said. “We know how good we can be. We know the sky’s the limit for us.”
Jones, who tied the franchise record, had three sacks in a first quarter so good LeBron James chimed in on social media for his Defensive Player of the Year candidacy. Jones also forced two fumbles the Cardinals turned into 14 points.
“It was epic,” Cardinals safety Budda Baker said of Jones’ performance. “I think it was one for the ages.”
Murray tormented the Titans throwing for 289 yards with a career-high four TD passes, two apiece to All-Pro wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins and Christian Kirk. Murray’s best pass came came early in the third quarter off his back foot to Kirk on a beautiful floater Kirk simply ran under.
Hopkins said it’s fun playing with Murray.
“Playing with a guy like Kyler you know what to expect,” Hopkins said. “The play is never over until he’s on the ground. For us, it’s just being where he needs us to be. Sometimes it’s freestyling, sometimes with him and just getting open, finding an open spot.”
Arizona scored the first 17 points and moved the ball almost at will against Tennessee. Murray either bought time scrambling around until he could find an open receiver or just kept the ball. Murray was so wide open on a keeper he held the ball up almost immediately on a 2-yard TD for a 24-6 lead.
Titans coach Mike Vrabel credited Arizona with both outcoaching and beating Tennessee.
“It’s unfortunate,” Vrabel said. “It is disappointing. There is no other way to put it. It sucks when you lose.”
The Titans not only won the AFC South last year, they had one of the NFL’s best offenses in 2020 with Derrick Henry the AP NFL Offensive Player of the Year after rushing for 2,027 yards. They tied Buffalo for the second-most yards per game and ranked fourth in scoring, then traded for wide receiver Julio Jones in June.
They dismissed talk of rust after offensive starters had little time together this preseason. They couldn’t have been much worse when it counted. The Titans started with a three-and-out, Jones sacked Ryan Tannehill on the second play of the next drive and stripped him of the ball.
Tannehill was under constant pressure, with Michael Dogbe getting the sixth sack. Left tackle Taylor Lewan didn’t talk to reporters but wrote on Twitter that he let everyone down. He also thanked Jones for exposing him.
“It will only force me to get better,” Lewan wrote.
About the only thing that didn’t go Arizona’s way was when Matt Prater missed a 43-yard field goal in the fourth quarter.
“We did exactly what we wanted to, particularly defensively, starting things fast, getting them off the field, and putting pressure on them,” Arizona coach Kliff Kingsbury said.