Chandler Jones notched a career-high five sacks Sunday and Kyler Murray threw four touchdown passes as the Arizona Cardinals dominated the Tennessee Titans 38-13 in each team’s season opener in Nashville, Tenn.
Jones, who missed the last 11 games of 2020 with a biceps injury, almost single-handedly dictated the game’s tempo with incessant pressure on Tennessee quarterback Ryan Tannehill. Jones logged three sacks and a forced fumble before the first quarter ended.
The forced fumble led to Murray’s first scoring strike, a 1-yarder to DeAndre Hopkins that gave Arizona a 10-0 lead less than seven minutes into the game. The duo hooked up again for a 17-yard touchdown with 10:59 left in the first half to up the margin to 17.
Tennessee answered on Tannehill’s 1-yard run at the 6:50 mark, but two ominous things colored that success. The Cardinals stuffed Derrick Henry on first and second down from inside the 1, and new kicker Michael Badgley hooked the PAT wide left.
Murray capped a drive of just over five minutes with a 2-yard run on which he raised the ball in the air just after his play-fake completely fooled the Titans. That made it 24-6 at halftime.
Tennessee capitalized on Murray’s only mistake to briefly get back within shouting distance. Kevin Byard’s interception set up Tannehill’s 13-yard scoring strike to A.J. Brown just over two minutes into the third quarter, slicing the deficit to 24-13.
Murray and Christian Kirk teamed to put the game away. They hooked up for 26 and 11-yard touchdowns in a 7:34 span, upping the margin to an insurmountable four scores.
Murray completed 21 of 32 passes for 289 yards, while Arizona’s running back tandem of Chase Edmonds and James Conner combined for 116 yards on 28 attempts.
Tannehill hit on 21 of 35 passes for 212 yards and tossed an interception. Henry, who last year became the eighth player in NFL history to rush for more than 2,000 yards, was held to 58 yards on 17 attempts.
–Field Level Media