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Cardinals find renewed hope in the season after TNF's win over the Saints

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GLENDALE – Dressed in black like a crew attending a funeral. Maybe even yourself.

Instead, the Cardinals gave a Big Red Reprieve.

Their 42-34 win over the Saints cooled head coach Kliff Kingsbury’s seat, at least temporarily. They overcame the woes that began at State Farm Stadium to an embarrassing eight-game losing streak at Glendale. They broke the 40-point threshold for the first time since January 2017. They brought a real energy and desperation, and the sincerity of the labor did not go unnoticed.

The attendees of the meeting responded by giving a standing ovation to the Cardinals who left the field at halftime.

Imagine how good that feels. How sweet it must have been for a team to see that their turf has become a playground for transients and infidels.

On the verge of chaos, the Cardinals saved a season from spiraling out of control.

“I thought we made some strides on offense today,” said quarterback Kyler Murray.

Not surprisingly, the return of DeAndre Hopkins had a profound effect on the offense. He posted his own hype video on Thursday morning and it instantly brought cool and presence. He was the last player to be promoted, an interesting honor for a player returning from a six-game suspension and an honest recognition of what Hopkins means to the success of this team.

Targeted 14 times. It finished with 10 receptions surpassing 100 reception areas for the first time since December 2020.

“You see, right?” Kingsbury said. “There is a deal with him that looks different on the outside. … It’s good to have him back.”

The Cardinals haven’t had much success with Kingsbury’s management, and for some time this has felt ominous and familiar. Kingsbury made headlines earlier in the week when his bosses offered to drop their game search duties if they deemed it necessary. A growing legion of critics lit up social media when Kingsbury called for Rondale Moore, a 5-foot-7-wide receiver, to fade the goal line. And when the Saints pushed the lead to 14-6, NFL obituaries were in the works.

That’s when the magic returned to State Farm Stadium.

On the next drive, Hopkins took a double significant defensive hold while Murray emptied into Kingsbury after a timeout. In astonishing anger, Murray seemed to tell his head coach to “(beep) calm down” twice.

Creative tensions and side conflicts are not uncommon in the alpha world of professional sports. But the rift between Murray and Kingsbury has been a recurring theme this season, and Murray’s instinctive reaction seemed to raise the heat for everyone involved.

In a good way.

“It’s just one of those things on the field,” Kingsbury said. “We had a difference of opinion”

After Murray’s performance, the Cardinals responded by tying the game. They scored 14 more points before Murray touched the football again, thanks to touchdowns on consecutive interceptions in the 74-second interval.

When the smoke cleared, the Cardinals finished 25 points in the second quarter alone. Just like that, the vibe is back.

There was an assumption that Sunday’s Seattle game would be their “Get It Right” game. Maybe four days late, against a notorious Saints team, a quarterback who lost 12 consecutive primetimes en route.

There are still problems with Kingsbury’s matchday operations and predictable offense. It’s incredibly unfortunate that they had months to prepare for six games without Hopkins and the head coach brought so little to the table. But what we all witnessed on Thursday and how Hopkins changed the game for Murray and this franchise is undeniable.

Cardinals can finally breathe. They will take a long hiatus with new momentum, in renewed hope that a season of faltering is in the dark.

Contact Bickley at dbickley@arizonasports.com. Listen to Bickley & Marotta on Arizona Sports 98.7 from 6-10am.

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