Cardinals focus on improvements despite big plays; Gaillard gets first start


The Cardinals’ two biggest plays of the game — and of the season thus far — had some similarities. Both times quarterback Kyler Murray found a young receiver deep downfield. Both times he connected for roughly a 50-yard gain. And both plays, while explosive, came on drives that ended in field goals.

The Cardinals won 30-15 at home over the Washington Football Team on Sunday. They held Washington scoreless until nearly the end of the third quarter. They have won two in a row, and they have put up 54 points in two weeks. But after the game, coach Kliff Kingsbury and Cardinals players were quick to cite the things that did not go well. 

“There were a lot of drives where we stalled out,” Murray said.

Sometimes, the Cardinals were still able to score, but unable to capitalize with a touchdown on the bigger plays. Murray found wide receiver Andy Isabella deep left for a 54-yard gain on the first play of a drive in the second quarter. A couple of plays later, a chop block penalty would bring up 2nd and 21. The Cardinals were unable to sustain the drive, and brought out kicker Zane Gonzalez for a 49-yard field goal.

Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Christian Kirk (13) makes a catch while defended by Washington Football Team cornerback Ronald Darby (23) during the second quarter at State Farm Stadium Sept. 20, 2020. (Photo: Michael Chow, Michael Chow/The Republic)

On the Cardinals’ next drive, Murray threw deep right to Christian Kirk for a 49-yard gain. Next came a false start, a no gain and then a sack. Gonzalez came onto the field again. He was perfect on the day. 

“For us to be able to put 30 points up against a good NFL defense in (Washington) is always pretty good,” wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins said. “But there’s a lot of room left for us to improve.”

Kingsbury touched on a similar theme, already having a list of things to work on next week. For all the focus on the mistakes in Week 2, the Cardinals did still find some things to celebrate, starting with the final score.

“It’s hard to win in the league, so you gotta celebrate all wins,” said linebacker Devon Kennard, who had his first sack as a Cardinal. 

“Guys are in the locker room turning up. So as soon as I’m done with you guys (the media), I’m going, joining my teammates, and enjoying this win. And when tomorrow comes, watch the film, critique ourselves hard, and get ready to go and do it again.”

Gaillard gets first start

Second-year offensive lineman Lamont Gaillard got his first NFL start Sunday, taking over at center. 

The start was expected. Kingsbury confirmed that Mason Cole would miss Sunday’s game in his Friday press conference, after Cole missed a full week of practice with a hamstring injury. Gaillard was flagged once for a false start, but the Cardinals offensive line was able to generally neutralize Washington, which had eight sacks the week before. 

“Lamont, to be able to push the tempo and run the offense as a second year guy like he did, my hat’s off to him,” Kingsbury said. “He just shows the work he put in last year and when he wasn’t playing. His attention to detail this week in practice was awesome. He’ll just better and better.”

Snyder misses game

Washington owner Daniel Snyder and his wife, Tanya, both missed the game in Arizona after coming in contact with someone who had tested positive for the novel coronavirus, according to a statement from Washington team physician Anthony Casolaro. 

Per Casolaro, Daniel and Tanya Snyder both tested negative, but were still planning to quarantine out of caution. 

Cardinals in locker room for anthem

Patrick Peterson said on Thursday that the plan for the Cardinals all season would be to stay in the locker room during the national anthem. They did so for their season opener on the road against the 49ers, and they did so again Sunday at home.

The decision was made by the team with the intent of keeping the focus on social justice goals that have yet to be met. Peterson said Thursday that the team was looking into having a white board with names of people who had died as a result of police brutality on the sideline, as a reminder of why players are continuing to speak out this season. 

After the anthem, the Cardinals showed a video about Larry Wilson and held a moment of silence for the former safety and team executive who passed away on Thursday. Wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald had a tribute to Wilson on his eye black for the game. 

Reach the reporter at [email protected] or 480-356-6407. Follow her on Twitter @kfitz134.

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