GLENDALE, Ariz. — Both Arizona Cardinals coach Kliff Kingsbury and quarterback Kyler Murray downplayed a heated exchange that cameras caught in the second quarter Thursday night following their 42-34 win over the New Orleans Saints that snapped an eight-game home losing streak.
Cameras showed Murray walking to the sideline, repeatedly mouthing “Calm the f— down” to Kingsbury with 2:32 left in the second quarter after Arizona called a timeout to reset its next play.
“The clock was running down and we couldn’t have got off the play that we were trying to run,” Murray said. “So, it was, I guess it’s my fault. I’ll take it.”
Murray continued to have words for Kingsbury as he walked to the sideline, where wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins acted as a peacekeeper and got in between the quarterback and the coach.
“He’s real animated over there on the sidelines sometimes,” Murray said.
When asked if Kingsbury was yelling in his ear through his helmet’s headset, Murray said no.
“I just see the antics,” Murray said.
Kingsbury called it a difference of opinion before trying to bring levity to the situation.
“He said I didn’t look good on TV acting that fiery,” Kingsbury quipped. “I don’t know, guess it’s a Gen Z thing. ‘You’re on TV so calm down.’
“I like showing emotion.”
Murray said Kingsbury is “usually chill … until Sunday.”
Cardinals rookie running back Keaontay Ingram scored from the 2-yard-line on the next play and then running back Eno Benjamin, who rushed for a career-high 92 yards, ran in the 2-point conversion to tie the score at 14.
“We’re good,” Murray said. “We’re going to make it right. We ended up scoring so that was good. But, yeah, that’s all I was saying, just chill out.
“Doesn’t faze me or I don’t think it fazes him. We’re just trying to win. In the moment type of thing. After that we’re good.”
Said Hopkins: “Both of those guys want to win. I love to see that. Honestly, I love being a part of a team that two people are dedicated and that focused on winning and obviously you’re going to butt heads. I’ m not married but from what I hear that’s like a marriage.”
That touchdown was the beginning of a 102-second streak that changed the direction of the game. The Cardinals intercepted Saints quarterback Andy Dalton on back-to-back drives and returned them both for touchdowns to take a 14-point lead at halftime.
The first interception was by cornerback Marco Wilson, who grabbed the ball out of midair after wide receiver Marquez Callaway bobbled it. He returned it 38 yards for the touchdown. Cardinals linebacker Isaiah Simmons picked off Dalton with a one-handed grab on the Saints’ next offensive series and sprinted to the end zone for a 56-yard touchdown.
“That was for everybody out there who said I can’t catch,” Simmons said. “That one-handed right there, remembering what my coach told me on that playcall. He’s been emphasizing exactly what I did, so being able to execute it correctly is nice. Once I caught it, I knew it was go-time and I didn’t think anybody was going to catch me — I knew [Chris] Olave was fast as hell but I think he was on the other side of the field, so I knew I was good.”
By time Simmons scored, just 1 minute and 42 seconds of game time had elapsed and the Cardinals had put 22 points on the board to take a 28-14 lead at halftime. Their 28 points nearly matched the 29 points Arizona had scored in total in the first half in its first six games of the season.
Arizona also had a third interception when cornerback Antonio Hamilton, in his second game back from suffering second-degree burns on his feet in August, picked off Dalton in the end zone late in the first quarter.
Thursday marked the return of Hopkins, who missed the first six games of this season after violating the NFL’s performance-enhancing drug policy. He also missed the last five games of last season with an MCL injury.
In his first game in 311 days, Hopkins had 103 yards on 10 catches after he was targeted 14 times. It was his fourth time hitting both marks in the same game as a Cardinal and the first time since Oct. 25, 2020.
“Spent a lot of time in the offseason preparing for this moment,” Hopkins said. “Obviously, I knew what I was up against being out six games.
“The main goal is to win. So, for me, if I had 10 catches and 10 yards if we would have won a game I would still be very [ecstatic]”
Thursday’s win was the first time the Cardinals won at home in 361 days, a feat Murray called “crazy.”
They snapped their losing streak thanks to 42 points, the most they’ve scored under Kingsbury, who was hired in 2019, and the most since Week 17 of the 2016 season.
“Excited for the guys, no doubt,” Kingsbury said. “Definitely been something they’ve had to answer about for a long time and especially to do it coming off a couple [of] losses and going into a longer time off for the game, I think it came at a good time.”