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Week 8 Game Recap: Arizona Cardinals 9, New Orleans Saints 31
What you need to know
The Cardinals offense showed promise this week, but again struggled to convert drives into touchdowns against the Saints. David Johnson
missed the game and Chase Edmonds
exited in the second half with a hamstring injury, leaving the depth chart on fumes with Zach Zenner
the last man standing, who was in Arizona a matter of days before kickoff as a recent signing. The Cardinals were pass-centric in consistent comeback mode anyway and Kyler Murray
did have Christian Kirk
back in the lineup, who more than doubled than Arizona player in targets, including Larry Fitzgerald
. The injury to David Johnson
and/or Chase Edmonds
could be more serious than originally thought as Arizona was swift to trade for Kenyan Drake
in their preparation for their Thursday night game against the white-hot 49ers.
All is again right with the world. Drew Brees
returned to action for the Saints this week and had more than 300 yards passing and 3 touchdowns as the Saints handled business against the Cardinals before heading into their Bye week. The game stayed particularly close until late in the second half. The Saints held a 10-6 lead at half time and the Cardinals managed to keep it within a 1 score game as late as the end of the 3rd quarter. The defense held the Arizona offenses to just 40 rushing yards on 11 carries and registered 4 sacks this week. Brees shook off the rust this week and connected with Michael Thomas
11 times on 11 throws. The Saints took a commanding lead in the NFC South this week with the Carolina Panthers losing to San Francisco. New Orleans will have their Bye week next week and allow for players to get healthy before resuming their campaign against Atlanta in week 10.
|QB Kyler Murray, 46 offensive snaps, Pass: 19 - 33 - 220 - 0 TD / 0 INT, Rush: 2 - 13 - 0|
For the fourth time in five games Murray did not throw a touchdown pass, this time in a sound blowout loss in New Orleans. Murray, however, has done an outstanding job avoiding turnovers and this week was another feather in his cap in the category in addition to weathering the storm of a hostile road environment early in the game. Murray was without a rushing attack for much of the game plus Chase Edmonds
was out with a hamstring injury and Zach Zenner
was so new to the team Murray was consistently coaching Zenner between the play call and snap on assignments. Through the air, much of Murray’s production came on a handful of chunk plays downfield, one a long flea-flicker design to Charles Clay
on the opening drive. Murray is unfazed by the small windows of the NFL, consistently sticking passes into said windows over the middle and between defenders. Murray nearly had an interception on a deep ball towards Christian Kirk
in double coverage. Murray also threw behind Larry Fitzgerald
on a fourth-down slant in the fourth quarter when the game was still relatively in doubt. The 49ers offer Murray the stiffest test of the season to-date on a short-preparation week on Thursday night in Week 9.
|RB Chase Edmonds, 30 offensive snaps, Rush: 7 - 8 - 0, Rec: 2 - 5 - 0 (4 targets)|
Edmonds was the clear starter against the Saints with David Johnson
inactive, but was consistently stuffed as a runner, including a fourth down attempt and red zone reception on third down of note. Arizona was pass-centric in comeback mode most of the game and Edmonds also limped off the field with a hamstring injury late in the third quarter. Zach Zenner
took over in relief and Arizona traded for Kenyan Drake
after the game. Even if healthy for Week 9, the 49ers offer a stingy matchup for the Arizona rushing attack.
|WR Christian Kirk, 42 offensive snaps, Rush: 1 - 19 - 0, Rec: 8 - 79 - 0 (11 targets)|
Kirk returned to the Cardinals lineup after a three-game absence to a hearty 33% team target share. Kirk did not see a target until the mid-second quarter, but more than doubled any other Arizona player in terms of targets. Kirk excelled in the short-to-intermediate game on hitches, slants, and comeback routes, but also added a big-play opportunity on a long pass if not for an inaccurate throw from Kyler Murray
. Kirk added a 19-yard end-around rush to his successful day. The 49ers offer a substantial test for the second-year receiver in Week 9.
Fitzgerald was a non-factor against the Saints with Christian Kirk
the clear lead receiver and stifled by tight coverage. Fitzgerald converted a third-down slant of note but also missed on his overt big-play opportunity in the game. A beautiful slot fade pass from Kyler Murray
on third down was just out of bounds by Fitzgerald’s feet on a potential touchdown. The 49ers offer another tough test in Week 9 and Fitzgerald’s volume has been a season-low level over the past two games, resulting in a 3-20-0 overall stat line.
New Orleans Saints
|QB Drew Brees, 70 offensive snaps, Pass: 34 - 43 - 373 - 3 TD / 1 INT|
After watching Teddy Bridgewater
lead the Saints to a 5-0 record in his absence, Brees had seen enough. New Orleans could have easily held him out this week in favor of Bridgewater and given his thumb another 2 weeks to heal, but Brees showed everyone why it is his team and that he was ready to lead it again. Brees finished with more than 300 yards passing and 3 touchdowns in what looked to be a tune up game for him. He connected on a 15-yard pass to Latavius Murray
in the flat for his first touchdown. It was a simple 3-yard check down pass that his running back turned up field and ran in for the score. His second touchdown was a 5-yard out route that went to Taysom Hill
. Brees found Hill for an easy score between defenders and had all the time in the world to throw the ball. His final touchdown went to Michael Thomas
and put the game out of reach for Arizona. It was a simple drag route across the middle of the field that Thomas caught for 5 yards and then spun and powered his was in for the last 4 for the touchdown. Brees threw the ball a lot this week as the Saints ran 72 offensive plays with almost 2/3 of them being passes. Brees made one mistake on the day when he tried to force the ball to his full back on a deep wheel route. He over threw Line and Patrick Peterson came down with an acrobatic interception. Outside of that play, Brees looked like his old self and ready to lead the team that has emerged as a favorite in the NFC. His thumb will get a week to heal while the Saints are on a Bye before taking on Atlanta in week 10.
|QB Taysom Hill, 15 offensive snaps, Rec: 3 - 63 - 1 (3 targets)|
The man who can do it all for the Saints had a big week against the Cardinals. New Orleans looked to exploit the hole that is Arizona’s tight end coverage and used Hill at the position exclusively. Hill did not line up as quarterback or rush the ball a single time this week, but he did catch all 3 of his targets, including a touchdown. Hill caught a big 36-yard catch and run to help set up a Michael Thomas
touchdown in the 4th quarter. Hill ran a wheel route out of the back field and caught the ball in a massive void between the corner and safety. He was able to run 15 yards before being tackled. His touchdown catch went for 5 yards and capped off a 75-yard drive. Hill ran an out route and caught the ball right over the goal line and in front of his defender. It was an easy pitch and catch from Brees to Hill and the Saints did a great job exploiting one of the biggest weaknesses of the Arizona defense.
|RB Latavius Murray, 62 offensive snaps, Rush: 21 - 102 - 1, Rec: 9 - 55 - 1 (12 targets)|
New Orleans continues to show just how much depth they have at key positions as Murray filled in for an ailing Kamara again this week. Murray rushed for more than 100 yards and added touchdowns through the air and on the ground against a porous Cardinals defense. Murray had the first touchdown of the game as he powered the ball 8 yards off the right guard. He slipped through a big whole and was not hit by a defender until he was crossing the goal line. This capped off a 7 play 71-yard drive and put the Saints up 10-3 in the 2nd quarter. His second touchdown was a 15-yard catch and run down the side line. Murray caught the ball 3 yards down the field in the flat and turned it up the field for 12 more yards before tip toeing into the end zone. Murray averaged just under 5 yards per carry this week and helped to take a lot of pressure off of Brees in his return to the lineup. Murray led the team with 12 targets and caught 9 of them for an additional 55 yards. Murray has shown he can handle the duties of a lead running back and should have worked his way to a bigger role when Kamara returns from injury. We should not expect a 50/50 split but at least a much bigger percentage based on how he has played.
Kamara was ruled out again this week with an ankle injury. He is projected to return 11/10 against the Falcons after getting an additional week of rest during the Saints Bye week.
|WR Michael Thomas, 68 offensive snaps, Rush: 1 - -9 - 0, Rec: 11 - 112 - 1 (11 targets)|
Even though Thomas seemed to connect with Teddy Bridgewater
, he got an instant boost when Brees returned to the lineup. Thomas caught all 11 of his targets this week, including a long 28-yard pass across the middle that helped set up a Latavius Murray
touchdown run. Thomas chipped in with a touchdown of his own to put the game out of reach for the Cardinals. The drive was set up by a 28-yard Murray run and a 36-yard pass to Taysom Hill
. Brees then found Thomas across the middle on a drag route where the big receiver spun and powered his way into the end zone. Thomas recorded 100+ yards receiving for the second straight week and is primed to have another big day when the Saints take on the Falcons after their Bye week. Brees to Thomas is a connection we are going to hear a lot for the rest of the season.
|WR Ted Ginn, 43 offensive snaps, Rec: 2 - 42 - 0 (2 targets)|
The string of average games for Ginn continued this week after catching both of his targets from Brees. He took a long catch and run for 28 yards and chipped in a 14-yard catch. Ginn did not see a big bump in production with the return of Brees but he continues to flash his speed and big play ability. It is only a matter of time before he totally breaks free and hits the long home run. Ginn should get that chance in week 10 against an awful Atlanta secondary.
Cook was ruled out again this week with an ankle injury. He is projected to return 11/10 against the Falcons after getting an additional week of rest during the Saints Bye week.