Four weeks into his NFL career, and Kyler Murray had yet to log his first win as a pro.
In Week 5, he faced the cure to many NFL ails — the Cincinnati Bengals. The Arizona Cardinals rookie quarterback ran a two-minute drill on Sunday highlighted by a 24-yard connection to David Johnson and a 24-yard scramble to set up Zane Gonzalez for a game-winning 31-yard field goal in a 26-23 win over the Bengals.
The Cardinals improved to 1-3-1 on the season with the win while the Bengals kept pace in the race to the NFL bottom for top quarterback prospects Tua Tagovailoa and Justin Herbert.
The Cardinals, of course, aren’t searching for their quarterback of the future, having spent the No. 1 overall pick on Murray in April’s draft. Instead, they’re seeking progress for Murray and rookie head coach Kliff Kingsbury. And even though Sunday’s win came against the Bengals, Sunday’s win qualifies as just that.
Murray productive in the air and on the ground
Murray showed the flashes of the dynamic weapon who won the Heisman Trophy at Oklahoma, making plays with his arms and his legs, hitting on 20-of-32 passes for 253 yards and rushing for 93 yards and a touchdown on 10 carries. His late scramble to set up Gonzalez’s field goal all but sealed the victory.
Arizona also got a big game out of Johnson, who ran for 91 yards and caught three passes for 65 yards.
Bengals lead busy pack facing worst record
The Bengals, meanwhile, maintained their edge in the race for the worst record in football alongside the Washington Redskins, both of which dropped to 0-5 with losses in Sunday’s early games. The New York Jets also picked up another loss, falling to 0-4.
The New England Patriots handed Washington a 33-7 loss, while the Jets — once again without quarterback Sam Darnold — dropped a 31-6 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles.
The Miami Dolphins — favored to secure the league’s worse record — remain a game behind in the loss column, thanks only to bye in Week 5.
They’ll return to the field next week for a pivotal matchup against Washington and have a pair of AFC East games remaining against the Jets.
The 0-4 Denver Broncos have a late Sunday game against the Los Angeles Chargers.
Competition for Dolphins?
Miami has made no secret about its desire to stockpile draft picks and gain the top selection in next April’s draft with Tagovaiola or Herbert their presumed target. The Bengals could finally be ready to move on from the largely mediocre experiment that has been Andy Dalton.
In Darnold and Dwayne Haskins, the Jets and Redskins drafted first-round quarterbacks recently and presumably aren’t looking to make long-term changes under center.
But with elite quarterback prospects expected to be available in April, those plans could change. Either way, holding one of the top two picks in the draft would be a premium trade chip.
This is a dance the Cardinals have done the last few seasons, having drafted Josh Rosen and then Murray in the first round of back-to-back drafts. They’re surely hoping Sunday’s win is a sign that they won’t be part of the top pick conversation yet again.
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