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Cardinals’ Victory Against Eagles Rewards Hard Work and Builds Momentum for the Future Season of ’24

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TEMPE, Ariz. (AP) — The Arizona Cardinals were hobbling toward the end of a forgettable 2023, with fans more interested in the upcoming draft and free agency than anything that was happening on the field.

Then Sunday happened.

No, the Cardinals’ 35-31 comeback win over the Philadelphia Eagles doesn’t change that this is among the worst teams in the NFL this season. But it was a galvanizing moment for a franchise looking to build some on-the-field momentum under a first-year regime — particularly coach Jonathan Gannon and general manager Monti Ossenfort.

In fact, if you squint really hard and imagine a couple of roster upgrades, the 2024 Cardinals could be markedly improved.

They have a 3-4 record since franchise quarterback Kyler Murray returned from an ACL injury, and the fifth-year quarterback was outstanding against the Eagles, completing 25 of 31 passes for 232 yards, three touchdowns and an interception.

“The guys, they played well. They played great today,” Murray said. “We executed and we did our thing and, you know, it’s good. It’s good to feel that. Obviously with everything that’s happened, a lot of disappointment this year, a lot of tough losses, but trying to finish the season off the right way.”

The Cardinals (4-12) wrap up their season with another tough matchup, hosting a Seahawks (8-8) team that still has playoff aspirations. Judging from last week’s performance, Arizona is not going to be a pushover.

A hallmark of Gannon’s team in his first season is that the Cardinals always look prepared and always fight, even if a lack of talent has been painfully obvious some weekends.

“I know our record isn’t what we want it to be, and that falls on me, but they have confidence,” Gannon said. “They never waver. And what I’m really pleased about is the way they practice that effort. They stay together. They focus. Attention to detail. A lot of teams just pack it in right now. That’s not our guys in there. So that’s just a tribute to the character in the locker room.”

WHAT’S WORKING

The one-two punch of James Conner and Michael Carter was very effective in the running game vs. the Eagles, giving a glimpse of what the backfield might look like in ’24. Conner has been one of the most underrated players in the league this season and could hit 1,000 yards rushing for the first time in his career with 110 yards against the Seahawks. Carter — picked up off waivers in November — ran for 61 yards on seven carries against Philadelphia.

WHAT NEEDS HELP

The Cardinals still don’t have much of a pass rush. They weren’t able to get to Jalen Hurts on Sunday and have just 33 total sacks this season, which is the fifth fewest in the NFL. They have just one sack over their past five games.

STOCK UP

Murray’s play over the past two months has largely quashed any rumors that the Cardinals might be interested in moving on from the two-time Pro Bowl selection. He’s thrown for 1,537 yards, nine touchdowns and five interceptions through seven games since his return from a serious knee injury and still has the ability to make plays with his quickness and speed.

“He’s never sped up, so he sees it extremely quick,” Gannon said. “Honestly, I think that it will improve as we move forward because he’s eight weeks into a system, so I think the sky’s the limit.”

STOCK DOWN

The only problem with the Cardinals’ win on Sunday is it hurts their draft position in the first round, where they hope to get a premium piece that can jump-start the team’s rebuild. Arizona would have the No. 4 overall pick if the season ended today.

INJURIES

OT D.J. Humphries (knee) and CB Garrett Williams (ankle) left the game against the Eagles with injuries.

KEY NUMBER

0 — The Cardinals didn’t have to punt vs. the Eagles, which is the first time that’s happened for the franchise since 2006.

NEXT STEPS

The Cardinals wrap up their season with a home game against the Seahawks. Arizona is one of just three NFL teams that hasn’t won a game against a division opponent this season and beating Seattle would provide some more momentum heading into 2024.

 

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