Kyler Murray returns with 2 passing TDs, 2 rushing TDs in Arizona Cardinals’ win over Chicago Bears

Kyler Murray returns with 2 passing TDs, 2 rushing TDs in Arizona Cardinals’ win over Chicago Bears

CHICAGO – Kyler Murray is back.

The Arizona Cardinals’ third-year quarterback returned from a high left ankle sprain to throw two touchdowns and run for two more in a 33-22 win over the Chicago Bears on Sunday at Soldier Field.

“It felt good,” Murray said. “Yeah, it felt good. Just to be out there moving around, kind of being myself, just playing the game I love to play with these guys, it was fun. Glad we got the win. But, yeah, it was great to be back.”

It had been five weeks since Murray last played, when he sprained his ankle in a loss to the Green Bay Packers in Week 8. He missed three games after that and rested the last two weeks during Arizona’s bye in order to come back fully healthy as the Cardinals enter the stretch run with a 10-2 record, the best in the NFL.

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Murray said his patience during the past month paid off on Sunday, despite it not always being easy to sit and watch, as Arizona went 2-1 in his absence with Colt McCoy at quarterback. But Murray understood the risk of playing before his ankle was ready.

“I think if I would have rushed it back and tried to play a couple weeks ago, I probably would’ve been hurting even more,” Murray said.

Murray proved his ankle was fine on the Cardinals’ second drive, which he began with an 8-yard run and capped with a 9-yard TD run. He finished with 59 rushing yards on 10 carries – both season highs – and two rushing touchdowns to complement his 123 passing yards and two passing touchdowns.

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Murray felt confident his ankle was ready for game action after testing it during pregame warm-ups.

“I knew I was fine. I knew I was good,” Murray said. “They gave me pull reads. So, I kind of had to. I don’t know how many times I ran the ball today or how many yards but I felt good when I took off.”

Murray said he didn’t feel rusty but the cold and rainy weather was a factor in what he could do and how well he could do it. Murray fumbled on the Cardinals’ first offensive play when the ball slipped out of his hand as he started his throwing motion. Arizona didn’t practice with wet balls this week, coach Kliff Kingsbury said, but Murray adjusted in the second half and started using his hand warmer more.

About the only thing Murray wasn’t able to do was throw long.

He had just one pass that went at least 15 yards downfield, and it was a first-quarter touchdown pass to DeAndre Hopkins, who was also playing his first game in five weeks because of a hamstring injury. Murray’s other 14 attempts averaged just 2.8 air yards. Murray said he thinks he’ll get more downfield reps this week in practice and then he’ll “be fine.”

Hopkins returned to play 37 of 51 offensive snaps with two catches for 32 yards and a touchdown.

“I think he looked good,” Kingsbury said. “Made the huge catch early on the fourth down which kind of set the tone and he’s always a factor. They got to account for him each and every snap that he’s out there, and I think that was a good game to not play that many snaps and still be able to have an impact.”

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Sunday was Murray’s seventh game since 2020 in which he accounted for at least four touchdowns, which leads the NFL, according to ESPN Stats & Information research. It was also his first career game with two rushing and two passing touchdowns.

Murray, who became the fourth-youngest player in NFL history to throw for 10,000 yards with a 2-yard completion to running back James Conner in the second quarter, is the first Cardinals quarterback with two passing and two rushing touchdowns in a game since Josh McCown did it in Week 15 of the 2004 season.

“I think just getting back into it, he made the dynamic plays when we needed him to,” Kingsbury said. “So, I thought he did a good job leading and I think he’ll just get better and better.”