Cardinals' Kyler Murray, Kliff Kingsbury book 1st NFL win

CINCINNATI -- It wasn't pretty, but Cardinals coach Kliff Kingsbury and rookie quarterback Kyler Murray won their first NFL game Sunday.

The Cardinals, who entered Sunday's game winless, beat the 0-5 Cincinnati Bengals 26-23 at Paul Brown Stadium thanks to 514 yards of offense, a performance by Murray that showed his ongoing evolution as a quarterback and a game-winning field goal.

"I felt like we needed to win that game, just for the morale of the team," Murray said. "We felt like we were pretty close the last couple of weeks and to finally put it all together somewhat, I felt good about today. Glad we got a win."

Murray finished with 93 rushing yards, including 24 on perhaps the game's most important play late in the fourth quarter to lead Arizona on its decisive drive, along with 253 passing yards.

After Arizona saw a 23-9 lead evaporate as the Bengals tied it at 23 with two minutes left. When the Cardinals regained possession at the 25 with 2 minutes left in the game, running back Chase Edmonds looked at Murray and said, "Hey bro, this is what we drafted you for." Murray then led Arizona on a 62-yard drive that included a 24-yard pass to David Johnson and a 24-yard scramble, setting up a 31-yard field goal by Zane Gonzalez as time expired.

The play wasn't designed to be a run. Murray was looking at running back Chase Edmonds, who finished with 68 rushing and 18 receiving yards, but when the play broke down, Murray took off.

Murray said he was trying to score when the play opened up and he had "a lot of space."

"That's who he is," Kingsbury said. "He's a competitor. He wanted the ball in his hands. He didn't blink, just made plays with his arm, with his feet. Then the catch by David Johnson. David was hurting a little bit, for him to make that catch on that sideline was phenomenal."

Murray's rushing performance, which barely topped Johnson's 91 rushing and 65 receiving yards, was a sign of his evolution, Kingsbury said. Kingsbury, who designed a game plan that was more run heavy for Sunday, is fine with Murray rushing for nearly 100 yards if it leads to a win.

"He's getting comfortable," Kingsbury said. "The NFL is a different game. It moves fast and you can tell it's slowing down a little bit for him. We're going to have our ups and downs along the way, but you can definitely see a comfort level in his play that wasn't there a few weeks ago and hopefully that continues."

Murray showed his ability to score with his feet late in the first quarter on a 6-yard bootleg run on fourth-and-2. On the score, Murray displayed his speed, agility and quick feet while out running, hesitating, stutter-stepping and then finally powering his way into the end zone.

Everything on that play worked, Murray said, from his fake to Trent Sherfield's block to Murray's speed. Aiding Murray was Kingsbury's creative playcalling. He used a series of jet sweeps and end arounds, as well as a play in which Murray threw a long lateral to Larry Fitzgerald, who was split out wide, and then Fitzgerald threw a lateral back to Murray, who had faded to his left as a receiver. The play gained only 5 yards but showed the lengths of Kingsbury's creativity.

"I thought he should have scored," Kingsbury said. "He's gotta pick his knees up. No. He said he's never caught a touchdown pass. I told him that would be the one, but at least it was a positive gain."

Murray finished with three throws of 24 yards or more, including a handful that displayed his touch, accuracy and finesse throwing the ball.

The Cardinals continued their struggles in the red zone, finishing with one touchdown in five tries, but Kingsbury showed the ability to adapt by running the ball nine times in the red zone compared to five passes.

"It's just frustrating," Murray said. "We get down there. We've just got to be better. Everybody knows that. I think we get better down there, it will open up everything. We had a chance to really put that game away, and we kind of let it up to chance."

Murray also showed maturity when it came to dealing with defensive pressure. He threw the ball away early in the game instead of trying to force it, and later threw a pass at the feet of his offensive line instead of throwing the ball away in the air. That helped him get sacked just once.

Those two were Kingsbury's favorite plays of Murray's on Sunday.

"I needed to be smarter these past couple of games," Murray said. "I'm trying not to take negative plays. Every Sunday is an opportunity for me to get better in any facet of the game. I think I did that today as far as throwing the ball away."