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CHICAGO — Kyler Murray threw caution to the Windy City on fourth-and-2 on his first series in over a month.
Murray could have checked into something safe to pick up the first down from the Chicago 20 early in the first quarter of Arizona’s 33-22 win over the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field.
No one would have blamed him.
It was rainy, cold and overcast, certainly not the worst day in Chicago history, but for a guy who plays in sunny Arizona, it wasn’t ideal.
Still, why play safe when you can play to win? He threw a 21-yard touchdown along the sideline to DeAndre Hopkins.”
“It’s one of those things,” Murray said. “If I like Hop, (I’m gonna) take him. … We had somebody else wide open, but in my eyes, that’s the best receiver in the league. So, I’m gonna give him a chance to make a play. It was good.”
Look out NFL.
The Cardinals can win without their coach. (Kliff Kingsbury missed the win over the Browns after testing positive for COVID-19.)
They can win without key players. (JJ Watt has been out since hurting his shoulder against Houston in October. Murray and Hopkins returned to action Sunday after missing more than a month each. Murray had an ankle injury. Hopkins had a bum hamstring.)
They can win with offense. (Sunday’s victory was Arizona’s eighth time scoring more than 30 points.)
They can win with defense. (Arizona has held opponents to 20 points or fewer eight times, and the win over the Bears was certainly boosted by four interceptions.)
They can win in their division. (They’re undefeated in four games against NFC West rivals.)
They can win on the road. (Arizona is 7-0 away from State Farm Stadium.)
And now we know they can play in cold, rainy weather up north in December — something skeptics wouldn’t expect from a fast, pass-first offense that doesn’t typically play in these conditions.
“It proves to people who would say that (we can’t) wrong,” linebacker Jordan Hicks said. “At the end of the day, the focus is never on the conditions. It’s on the game. It’s on what we need to do. For us, it’s just ‘go 1-0 this week.’ That’s what it’s all about.”
For everyone else, a win like this marks a huge concern off the checklist. The supposedly pretty-boy Cardinals can get grimy.
“We get limited opportunities to play this beautiful game,” running back James Conner said. “We just wanted to come out here to Chicago and play hard to get this road victory. I don’t know what it says about our team. Our job isn’t finished, yet. We’re just gonna keep attacking it.”
The statistics weren’t exactly gaudy.
Murray was 11-for-15 passing for 123 yards and two touchdowns. He also ran for 59 yards (a season high) and two touchdowns.
Conner, meanwhile, led the team with 75 rushing yards and with 36 receiving yards.
But they got it done, and that’s really all that matters. There are no style points in the NFL standings.
“This is all the hard work we put in,” Murray said. “We understand what kind of guys we have in the locker room. We understood before the season started. It’s just about going and doing it. Executing. But now that we’re in this position, we’ve just got to keep it going. Keep working hard. One play at a time. One day at a time.”
But now they know from experience that they can win in the cold.
That could be more valuable than anyone realizes.
It could be that Arizona will have to go through Green Bay to get to the Super Bowl. The Cardinals are 10-2. One of those losses is to the 9-3 Packers.
The Cardinals know this season isn’t over. There are five games left before the playoffs. That’s plenty of time for things to go wrong.
But Arizona is proving week by week, that they can handle whatever comes their way.
Even cold, rainy, miserable conditions like they saw in Chicago on Sunday.
Look out NFL.
There’s a good chance Arizona is going to make things un-Bear-able for anybody else they play for the rest of this season.
One of the few questions left is whether there’s anything Murray and his teammates can’t do.
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This article originally appeared on Arizona Republic: Moore: After win over Bears, is there anything Kyler Murray can't do?