The Kansas City Chiefs and Arizona Cardinals kicked off the 2022 season on Sunday. Here’s a look back at the game.
Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray struggled to find a rhythm Sunday against the Kansas City chiefs, while Patrick Mahomes again proved he is one of the top quarterbacks in the NFL.
The result was a 44-21 victory for Kansas City.
Mahomes finished the game 30-for-39 for 360 yards and five touchdowns. Murray was 22-for-34 for 193 yards and two touchdowns. Most of Murray’s yards and both touchdowns came in the fourth quarter.
Kansas City led from the first drive. The Chiefs were up 23-7 at the half and 37-7 after three quarters.
Murray led the Cardinals in rushing with five carries for 29 yards, but close behind him were Eno Benjamin (4-28), James Conner (10-26), and Trace McSorley (3-20).
Greg Dortch led the Cardinals with seven catches for 63 yards.
It wasn’t just the Arizona offense that struggled. The numbers by Mahomes and the 128 rushing yards the team compiled speak to the holes in the Cardinals defense.
The inactives released before the game gave a glimpse into the Cardinals future. Out were defensive end JJ Watt, guard Justin Pugh, linebacker Myjai Sanders, corner Trayvon Mullen, tight end Trey McBride, receiver Rondale Moore, and running back Keaontay Ingram.
Through three quarters, Conner was the only running back the Cardinals used. Murray was under constant pressure.
Budda Baker led the Cardinals with 13 tackles, which is good for him, but not for the Cardinals. The teams top four tacklers were two safeties (Baker, Jalen Thompson), linebacker Zaven Collins and corner Marco Wilson. The team didn’t record any sacks or interceptions. It forced just two punts as Kansas City was 6-for-8 when converting on third/fourth down.
The bright spot for the Cardinals defense was a forced and recovered fumble late in the first half. However, nothing came of that turnover as the Arizona offense never got moving.
Finding a rhythm
After using three quarters as a warmup, Kyler Murray and the Arizona Cardinals seemed to settle in during the fourth — albeit when the game was all but over.
Murray found Zach Ertz for a 6-yard touchdown pass with a little more than 5 minutes to play. It was the second touchdown for Murray in the quarter and in the game and in the season.
The other score came 7 minutes earlier when Murray completed a 6-yard pass to Hollywood Brown. A two-point conversation attempt was good with Ertz hauling in a throw.
Both touchdowns came too late in the game. On to the fourth
Many Arizona Cardinals fans didn’t make it to the fourth quarter.
When Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs drove 66 yards for their fifth touchdown of the game and a 37-7 lead, the stands at State Farm Stadium began to empty with 3:56 to play in the third.
The Cardinals had been outplayed in every facet of the game. Outgained 404-135 at that point, there wasn’t much reason to think the home team would turn it around.
By the end of the fourth, not much had changed. The Cardinals were facing a third-and-3 from the Chiefs 35. And more fans left.
Arizona failed to convert on third down, but on fourth down Kyler Murray found Greg Dortch and the Cardinals had first-and-goal from the 10.
It took another fourth down conversation for the Cardinals to find the end zone. On fourth-and-goal from the 6, Murray completed a pass to Hollywood Brown. Zach Ertz caught a pass from Murray for a 2-point conversion to make the score 37-15 Chiefs.
Back at it
Both sides picked up where they left off in the first half.
For the Cardinals, that meant a punt after a short series.
For the Chiefs, it was another touchdown.
The 4-play drive by the Chiefs last just 2 minutes and was furthered by a pass interference penalty against the Cardinals.
The score came on a 1-yard pass from Patrick Mahomes to Jody Fortson. Kansas City leads 30-7.
The Cardinals defense finally stopped the Chiefs on third down.
But the Arizona offense couldn’t do its part.
Nearing the two-minute warning, the Cardinals needed to work quickly and they did, thanks largely to a 26-yard pass from Kyler Murray to Marquise “Hollywood” Brown.
They crossed midfield with 2 minutes left in the half and trailing 20-7. A fumble backed them up to their own 47 before Murray threw a pair of incomplete passes and the team was forced to punt.
Once more, the defense stepped up for Arizona. This time, it forced and recovered a fumble at the Kansas City 42 with 58 seconds left in the half.
Murray and the offense weren’t able to do anything with the bonus. They turned the ball over on downs with enough time for the Chiefs to add a 54-yard field goal to their tally.
3rd down stop leads to 4th down TD
Arizona finally got a stop on third down. The same could not be said for fourth down.
After big plays and penalties helped the Chiefs convert earlier on the drive, the Cardinals stopped them on a third-and-4 attempt from the 6. Facing a fourth-and-2 from the Cards 4, Kansas City went for it. The result was a 4-yard pass from Patrick Mahomes to Clyde Edwards-Helaire. The Chiefs lead 20-7.
Cardinals on the board
James Conner scored on a 2-yard run up the middle as the Arizona Cardinals found the end zone for the first time in the 2022 season. Conner also had a 2-yard run on the first play of the drive.
The 75-yard drive also featured a 21-yard run by Kyler Murray and passes of 24-yards and 31 yards from Murray to Greg Dortch.
Kansas City up 14-0
The Chiefs scored touchdowns on their first two drives of the game to take a 14-0 lead with 3:20 left in the first quarter.
Kansas City quarterback Patrick Mahomes is 9-for-11 passing for 106 yards and two touchdowns on the two series. He threw touchdown passes to Travis Kelce and Clyde Edwards-Helaire.
Meanwhile, a scramble, a sack and a punt made up most of the Cardinals’ first possession.
The Cardinals will begin the second quarter with a first-and-10 on the Kansas City 35.
The Cardinals signed OL Max Garcia to the active roster. They elevated WR Andre Baccellia, LB Devon Kennard, and CB Jace Whittaker to active roster from the practice squad. They placed OL Cody Ford on injured reserve and released CB Javelin Guidry.
Cardinals: DE JJ Watt, LG Justin Pugh, OLB Myjai Sanders, CB Trayvon Mullen Jr, TE Trey McBride, WR Rondale Moore, RB Keaontay Ingram.
Chiefs: RB Ronald Jones, QB Shane Buechele, DE Joshua Kaindoh, OT Darian Kinnard, WR Daurice Fountain, DE Malik Herring.
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Reach the reporter at [email protected] or 602-444-2426. Follow her on Twitter @ejhoros.
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George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism