Plenty of holes in the Arizona Cardinals defense allowed for Mahomes and Kansas City to thrive in the passing game.
Kansas City Chiefs 44 – 21 Arizona Cardinals
There was a lot of optimism from the Red Sea going into this season’s opener, following the Chiefs losing star wide receiver, Tyreek Hill, during the offseason to the Miami Dolphins. Many wondered if the Chiefs and Mahomes would be the same force they have been following the loss of Hill and could this be an opportunity for the Cardinals to take a confidence boosting victory to start the season and set the tone for the rest of the season. Unfortunately, it was the same old Patrick Mahomes doing what Patrick Mahomes does!
Mahomes And The Chiefs
The Chiefs quarterback was in top form and no matter who or what they tried, the Cardinals defense could not cope with Mahomes who was in one word, ‘unstoppable’. He was changing it up constantly, one play would be short darts into a running back, the next he would be dropping bombs downfield. Mahomes was on fire, completing 76.9% of his passes for 360 yards and five touchdowns.
With Hill no longer an option, Mahomes spread the ball around nine different targets, with elite tight end, Travis Kelce, being his go-to guy. Kelce had nine receptions for 121 yards and was aided by the new wide receiver duo of JuJu Smith-Schuster and Marquez Valdes-Scantling, who both went for 79 and 44 yards respectively, and were a constant thorn in the side of the Cardinals down the middle of the field.
Kyler Murray And The Cardinals
The Arizona offence never really got going in this one and more worryingly, showed some similarities to last year when they had a rough patch later in the season. From the get-go, Murray was under pressure from the Kansas defense, being pressured on 43.8% of drop backs during the first half. Murray wasn’t having much joy with passes and rarely had the time and space to use his run game, with only five rushing carries for 29 yards. There wasn’t much more joy for the running backs of the Cardinals either, with Eno Benjamin carrying for 28 yards, and James Conner 26 yards and a touchdown.
The Cardinals struggled against a team that even without Tyreek Hill, still have a number of weapons at their disposal in offence and could not keep up with the pace in this week’s matchup. Murray seemed lost at times without DeAndre Hopkins to look for, who was serving his first of a six-game suspension for violating the NFL’s performance enhancing drugs policy. Murray completed 22 of 34 passes for 193 yards and two touchdowns.
Maybe surprisingly to most, but the most targeted wide receiver for the Cardinals in the opening match was Greg Dortch, with seven receptions for 63 yards. Following last week’s prediction, Marquise Brown failed to set the world alight this week, with only four receptions for 43 yards, but he did score a touchdown which will hopefully boost confidence going into next week. Unfortunately, A.J. Green did not show any signs of his former self in this one, failing to find any space or to get away from coverage and ending a miserable night with two receptions for 13 yards.
The Arizona Cardinals take on the Las Vegas Raiders in Week Two, where they will come up against the experienced quarterback, Derek Carr, and the exceptional wide receiver that is Davante Adams. With these two on the opposition offense, the Cardinals really need to clean up a lot of things both in offense and defense.
If not, they could find themselves 0-2 after the first two weeks of the season. This may be too early to panic, but they certainly don’t want to put more pressure on their shoulders to get their first win after a few losses. It’s time to dust themselves off, keep their heads up and put in the hard work now ready for Week Two, and hopefully their first win of the season.