Arizona Cardinals 38, Dallas Cowboys 10
1) A return and a debut all in one. It was a big night for Kyler Murray, as he played his first Monday Night Football game and did so in his native state of Texas at AT&T Stadium, where he had previously won acclaim and ballgames in high school and college. But against the worst scoring defense in the league, Murray and the Cardinals were shut out in the opening stanza. You could tell the moment had him a bit out of sorts. And then Murray found that elite next gear of his and, in a blink of an eye, a blowout was had. Dazzling with his fleet feet and quick arm, Murray led the way for the Cardinals’ most dominant showing of the season – and in a long while, for that matter. Though his accuracy was, frankly, woeful on the evening, it really mattered not. Murray (9-for-24 for 188 yards, 93.8 rating) had a pair of TD tosses to Christian Kirk, including an 80-yarder to go up 21-0 in a second quarter. The 21-point second-quarter burst truly finished the game, stunning in its quickness and emphatic in its tone-setting nature. Murray added another score on a one-yard run. It was no doubt a tough evening for Cowboys fans, but one of Texas’ own returned and put on the starry performance that we are quickly getting accustomed to seeing. With the Cardinals at 4-2 and tied for second in the NFC West, Murray’s leading the way and once again leaving Texas with plenty of high hopes ahead.
2) A week removed from its favorite son falling, Dallas has been hit by devastation. An offense that entered Monday having tied for the most turnovers, had four more (though one was an interception that should’ve been a defensive pass interference). And a defense that’s yet to face an offense it could slow, was porous yet another week. Andy Dalton replaced Dak Prescott and it didn’t go well. No matter who was running the ball for the Cowboys, success was seldom. And the defense shut out an opponent in the first quarter for the first time, but then an offensive avalanche buried it. There is high-profile talent in abundance, including within the coaching staff, but this is a team without remedies to end its ills – which seemingly extend back to last season. To the likely chagrin of the majority of the league, there is salvation found in the fact that the Cowboys, 2-4 as they may be, are in first place in the NFC East. First place or not, these Cowboys were a disaster on Monday night, looking listless, struggling in all facets and seemingly just biding time until the clock ran out on a loss, boos accompanying their exit. Something must change in Dallas, though it’s arduous to believe any quick fix is applicable.
3) The Cowboys weren’t the only team to have begun the remainder of their season without a superstar on Monday. But the Cardinals were the only team to respond with inspired play. Arizona stymied the No. 1 total offense in the league, battering Dalton, causing turnovers and generally wreaking despair. Replacing a player of Chandler Jones’ caliber is likely impossible, but the Cardinals decided to carry on anyway, and did so ferociously. Just as the Cowboys were dreadful on each side of the ball, the Cardinals were phenomenal. Arizona had four turnovers, three sacks and held the Cowboys to one meaningless touchdown in garbage time. Jordan Hicks (10 tackles, two for loss), Patrick Peterson (eight tackles), Haason Reddick (two sacks) and Jordan Phillips (forced fumble, fumble recovery) all contributed with notable nights. As the defense dominated, this was also a showcase for one of the league’s most unheralded talents, safety Budda Baker (seven tackles, sack, two QB hits, interception), who no doubt made a lasting first impression on many getting their initial look in prime time. Though its best player is out for the year, the Cardinals defense is very much moving forward with ill intent and impressive results.
4) With Prescott out, many looked upon the shoulders and legs of Ezekiel Elliott to carry a bigger load. Elliott was the workhorse, the star they would count on in troubled times. Instead, Zeke looked nothing like the stellar back he’s been previously, fumbling away possession twice, getting replaced by Tony Pollard for a spell and finding no positives amid a miserable night. It was the first time in Elliott’s career in which he’s lost multiple fumbles in a game. On a still young season, Elliott’s five fumbles and four lost have become a big problem on a team with an abundance of those.