Chandler Jones began Arizona's dominant festivities with a strip-sack. A few plays later, Kyler Murray hooked up with Deandre Hopkins for the first of their two touchdowns as a duo, extending the lead to 10-0. After that, the Cardinals never looked back.
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Kyler Murray was wildly impressive in his 2021 regular-season debut. He recorded five big-time throws and just one turnover-worthy play (a second-quarter interception to Kevin Byard) on PFF’s first review of the game. He took two sacks and completed 21-of-32 passes for 289 yards, four touchdowns and a pick in the game.
Murray displayed high-end arm talent and escapability on multiple dropbacks, including his early red-zone touchdown to DeAndre Hopkins. He and Hopkins connected for two touchdowns on the day, and Nuk finished as the team’s leading receiver with 83 yards.
One down. pic.twitter.com/VY0k9MQ9Ic
— Deandre Hopkins (@DeAndreHopkins) September 12, 2021
Chase Edmonds led the Cardinals’ rushing attack with 63 yards on 12 carries, but veteran James Conner also carried the rock 16 times for 53 yards. Conner gained more than 85% of his yards after contact and forced five missed tackles.
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Hopkins was (obviously) the best Cardinals wideout on the day, given his two touchdown receptions and 83 yards receiving, but Christian Kirk and rookie Rondale Moore also had their fair share of standout plays. Kirk caught all five of his targets for 70 total yards and two touchdowns, while Moore finished with four receptions for 68 yards. Moore also forced two missed tackles and gained 64 of his 69 yards after the catch.
Justin Murray filled in admirably for Kelvin Beachum at right tackle after the veteran went down with a rib injury. Murray should finish PFF’s grading reviews as the Cardinals' highest-graded lineman.
Josh Jones and Brian Winters split time at right guard, and Jones was the obvious top performer between the two (especially in pass protection). Winters and Justin Pugh were the only two Arizona offensive linemen charted with pressures allowed on PFF’s first review of the game.
Chandler Jones was unreal against Tennessee. The veteran pass-rusher notched five total sacks and two forced fumbles in an absolute bludgeoning of the Titans’ offensive tackles. Veteran Taylor Lewan gave credit where credit was due after the game.
Chandler Jones had 5 sacks vs Tennessee today ????
Taylor Lewan had to give him his props pic.twitter.com/Dq6AfNBKqO
— PFF (@PFF) September 12, 2021
Rookie Zaven Collins recorded two defensive stops and one forced incompletion, but second-year linebacker Isaiah Simmons was by far the most impressive of the two young linebackers. Simmons also recorded a forced incompletion along with four defensive stops and nine total tackles.
Arizona’s young secondary faced a tall order going toe-to-toe with Julio Jones and A.J. Brown, but the group rose to the occasion (while benefiting from consistent pressure from Jones & Co., of course). Both Byron Murphy and Marco Wilson recorded a forced incompletion, and neither of the two allowed more than 60 yards or a touchdown.
Consistently in a hole, Ryan Tannehill could not drag the rest of the Titans' offense to production in the face of some devastating pressure from Chandler Jones and the Cardinals' defense. His best throw was a touchdown to A.J. Brown, but he also had a bad fumble. Five of his passes were broken up by Cardinals defenders.
Rushing king Derrick Henry was bottled up very well overall. Some late carries gave him 58 total rushing yards from 17 attempts, but at one point, deep into the game, he had just nine yards and had been running into brick walls all game long. Henry managed just two first downs on the ground.
On paper, Julio Jones and A.J. Brown represented an impossible task for the Cardinals secondary to match up with, but it didn’t really play out that way. Jones caught just three of the six targets thrown his way for 29 yards, and outside of Brown’s impressive touchdown catch, he was held similarly in check. The pair combined for just 0.9 yards per route run.
Taylor Lewan’s PFF grade isn’t going to make pretty reading once it’s been reviewed, as he surrendered five total pressures across 40 pass-blocking snaps. Rodger Saffold was arguably the team’s best lineman and had a much better day.
The Titans defensive linemen performed better against the run than they did as pass-rushers. Harold Landry led the team with four total pressures, pending review, but three were clean-up pressures and one was unblocked. Jeffery Simmons led the team with 30 pass-rushing snaps, and he was the only member of the defensive front to notch a sack.
Rashaan Evans and Jayon Brown combined for 115 snaps on defense, with just 11 snaps coming from other linebackers. The pair combined for seven defensive stops and were only targeted five times in coverage.
First-round rookie Caleb Farley will have to wait to make his impact on this secondary, barely featuring in the game, but the Titans did get to see 67 snaps on defense from Kristian Fulton, last year’s second-round selection. Fulton allowed just one catch for four yards and forced two incompletions, the only two from Titans cornerbacks in the game.