Quarterback puts on a national TV show in 38-10 victory Darren Urban
ARLINGTON, Texas -- It'll never be the House That Kyler Built, but it feels like Kyler Murray is so much more than just at house guest at AT&T Stadium.
Murray came back home Monday night to lead the Cardinals to a 38-10 dismantling of the Dallas Cowboys in front of a national television audience, the seventh time in seven tries across three levels of football Murray has won in the building.
Help was plentiful, especially from Budda Baker and a Chandler Jones-less defense that played its best game of the year. But the story was Murray - and fellow Texas kid Kliff Kingsbury - as they had a glorious homecoming.
"It was fun," Murray said. "It brought back a lot of memories. It felt like I've been playing there every Sunday, honestly.
"It was comfortable. It started off sloppy. For me personally, the whole game was sloppy. We still can be a lot better."
Murray won in the building five times as a high school superstar at Dallas' Allen High School, including three state championships, and again as a starter in the Big 12 Championship game when playing for Oklahoma.
Monday's game wasn't for a title, but it meant something for Murray and the Cardinals (4-2), especially with a home date against the undefeated Seattle Seahawks on a short week.
"It's not easy when that's all anyone has talked about all week," Kingsbury said. "I'm proud of the way (Kyler) handled himself."
Murray was not always sharp throwing the ball. He completed only 9 of 24 passes, and only one in the second half. But he was the one who turned the game. It started with his legs - Murray ended up with 74 yards rushing and a touchdown - and eventually coming up big with his arm.
After he and Andy Isabella couldn't hook up on a pair of deep shots early, it was Murray scrambling or on designed runs keeping drives alive, in part thanks to a couple of Ezekiel Elliott fumbles.
Then Murray found Christian Kirk in stride for an 80-yard touchdown bomb.
"That was a play we needed," Kirk said.
Murray's lone second-half completion was to DeAndre Hopkins, a 60-yard catch-and-run to set up another touchdown. He finished with 188 yards passing.
"He's just so special with the ball in his hands," Kirk said. "It was only nine completions, but ... the scoreboard said it all."
Kenyan Drake, thanks to a late 69-yard touchdown sprint, also had the breakout game he was looking for, with 169 yards and two touchdowns.
But if Murray was the story, the defense was the surprise twist. Baker had one of his best games, including his first NFL interception as the Cardinals forced four turnovers - one more than they had total in the first five games of the season. Defensive tackle Jordan Phillips, playing two days after the funeral for his father, led the way to a group that allowed only 49 yards rushing to Elliott.
Andy Dalton, starting at Cowboys quarterback after Dak Prescott broke his ankle, never really had a chance. He was sacked three times and picked off twice, and in the first half as the Cardinals built a 28-3 lead, he completed 15 passes - for only 82 yards.
"We just tried to show him different looks," Baker said. "We knew if we just showed our (regular) looks, he was going to dice us."
Instead, defensive coordinator Vance Joseph showed he was ready to deal with a unit without Joens at his disposal.
"VJ and his group had a good plan," Kingsbury said.
Kingsbury also had a history in the building. The last game he coached at Texas Tech was here, a loss to Baylor. But he insisted his greatest pleasure was watching his players.
"I was excited to see our team play on the Monday night stage," Kingsbury said. "That's what was meaningful to me."
It started with Murray. "He doesn't flinch," Kirk said, although Murray afterwards completed everyone but himself. He said he didn't even have words to describe how well the defense played, and lamented missed throws to Hopkins and Larry Fitzgerald - the latter of which would've been a touchdown.
He allowed himself a small smile when he was asked if he was able to enjoy the moment, back in this building, back in front of many family and friends among the 25,174 in attendance.
"Part of me wants to," Murray said, "but a lot of me is frustrated. It wasn't as good as it should've been."