Sat, 05 Dec 2020

Cardinals quarterback ready to lead charge on 'Monday Night Football' Kyle Odegard

There is always a comfort level in being at home, but Kyler Murray has taken that to the extreme.

The Cardinals' quarterback has returned to his native Dallas for the Week 6 "Monday Night Football" matchup against the Cowboys, which may be a road game in name only to Murray.

The second-year signal-caller has started six times games in AT&T Stadium during his life, and has not only won all of them, but claimed three high school state championships and a Big XII title. Now he will aim to add a professional victory to the resume in a critical matchup for both teams.

"That's impressive, and we would love to support him in getting that mark up a little higher," wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald said. "I was talking to him (Thursday) and I was asking him, 'Has any player in the NFL ever won a game in the same building in high school, college and professionally?' We were rattling off names but I couldn't think of anybody and he couldn't either.

"How cool would that be, to go home and do something like that?"

Murray has a low-key personality, and while there have been moments this week in which he's strolled fondly down memory lane, the second-year signal-caller is focused on the task at hand -- because the legend only grows if the Cardinals (3-2) come away with the victory.

"I will be able to enjoy the moment, but at the same time, I know what's at stake," Murray said. "We're playing to win. That's the end goal. This isn't about me going home, this is about us playing the Cowboys, a good football team. ... To enjoy it, you've got to win."

It will also be Kingsbury's first game in Texas as an NFL coach since joining the Cardinals in 2019. The San Antonio native will be Arizona's adopted son if he continues leading the Cardinals on their current trajectory, but his Texas roots run deep.

Kingsbury not only grew up in the state but played college football and coached at Texas Tech in Lubbock. He was asked this week if his southern drawl is going to thicken when he heads home.

"We'll see," Kingsbury said. "It usually comes out when I get around my Texas people, but it's usually after a few Coors Lights, so I don't know if it'll really break out this trip."

This will be the first game for the Cardinals without outside linebacker Chandler Jones, who is done for the year with a biceps injury. However, the Cowboys are worse off, as they will try to stay afloat without star quarterback Dak Prescott, who broke his ankle last weekend.

Dallas (2-3) will turn to veteran Andy Dalton on Sunday, a longtime NFL starter who signed a one-year deal to back up Prescott.

"When you watched the game on Sunday after Dak left the game, nothing changed," defensive coordinator Vance Joseph said. "They're very fortunate to have a guy like Andy Dalton who is an experienced guy. As far as the volume of the offense, Andy nails that part. Nothing changes for them."

The Cowboys' offense is still scary without Prescott, as Ezekiel Elliott is among the best running backs in the NFL and the wide receiver trio of Amari Cooper, Michael Gallup and CeeDee Lamb is excellent.

The Cardinals will likely need to score to keep up, as they aim to duplicate last week's impressive showing against the Jets. Murray is coming off an NFC Player of the Week honor after throwing for a career-high 380 yards, and will face a Cowboys defense allowing an NFL-worst 36.0 points per game.

"The key for us Monday night is getting the ball in our playmakers' hands and getting Kyler in a rhythm, get some early completions," wide receiver Christian Kirk said. "There's some things on film we feel like we can take advantage of, but the biggest thing for us every week is just winning our 1-on-1 battles."

The Cardinals followed through on their "must-win" directive last week against the Jets. After five games, they are certainly an improved product from a year ago, but it's still unclear where they stand in the NFC pecking order.

If they can notch a primetime win over the Cowboys, it would turn some heads.

"This is our first time on a national stage, so it's going to be a great outing for us to go out there and make sure we perform at our best," cornerback Patrick Peterson said, "to put the world on notice that we are a team that is here for real."

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