Kyler Moore Murray was outmatched for the most of the game in the Raiders' OT victory.

Kyler Moore Murray was outmatched for the most of the game in the Raiders' OT victory.

Kyler Moore Murray was outmatched for the most of the game in the Raiders' OT victory.
Kliff Kingsbury, head coach of the Arizona Cardinals, screams from the sideline during the second half of an NFL football game against the Las Vegas Raiders on Sunday, Sept. 18, 2022, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/David Becker)

LAS VEGAS — Despite being outdueled by Derek Carr for the majority of the game, Kyler Murray earned a season-saving victory over the Raiders on Sunday at Allegiant Stadium.

Murray had more throw attempts (49 to 38), completions (31 to 24), and yards (277 to 252) than Carr, but it needed late-game heroics to overcome a wildly erratic performance in which Arizona's $230 million signal caller spent more time avoiding opponents in his face than assessing them downfield.

Arizona's 29-23 victory in Las Vegas spared the Cardinals from a disastrous start.

Over the next two weeks, the Cardinals (1-1) will face the Rams and Panthers. In the previous three years, the two clubs have defeated Arizona nine times. A loss to the Raiders would have given the Cardinals an 0-4 start, and can anyone envision a division title or playoff run in the Cardinals' future? Especially after the same club concluded the previous season with a 1-5 record?

Murray's uneven play is preventing the Cardinals from winning.

Murray, one of the league's most explosive dual-threat quarterbacks, couldn't get anything going with his arm (6-for-9 throwing for 53 yards and an interception) or his legs in the first half (0 rushing yards).

The second half was better, but only after things got so awful that he and running back Darrel Williams had to run an option — an old-school, honest-to-goodness, I-haven't-seen-one-of-those-in-years option!

As if it wasn't enough, the Cardinals later operated from a wishbone.

Call it inventive, surprising, or unique, but it was more accurately described as desperate.

Coach Kliff Kingsbury's play calling, paired with the players' execution, doomed drives before they started, giving the Raiders — and their fans — all the momentum they needed to turn Allegiant Stadium into a Black Hole from which the Arizona defense nearly couldn't escape.

Carr, on the other hand, appeared to be able to drive his offense up and down the field at whim.

The $122 million Raiders quarterback orchestrated five drives of seven or more plays and had his club up 20-0 before Arizona scored.

To be fair, Carr had excellent coverage and a top receiving threat in Davante Adams.

Murray was rarely able to place his feet in the pocket or stride into his tosses. Murray's mechanical issues with throwing on the run were evident when he threw an interception on third-and-9 in the second quarter that was overturned by defensive holding... Murray threw an interception a few plays later on a third-and-3. He was scrambling again again, trying to fit a pass into an incredibly little opening.

Murray clearly requires DeAndre Hopkins and Rondale Moore; their alternatives, Greg Dortch and Hollywood Brown, have been ineffective. (Hopkins will be banned for four weeks more.) Moore has a hamstring injury.)

Midway through the fourth quarter, Brown made a nice one-handed grab for a 25-yard gain, which set up a 1-yard Williams touchdown and a wild 2-point conversion from Murray, which involved him running back and forth across the field like the Road Runner in a Looney Tunes cartoon - he may have run 100 yards to score from the 2.

But it was almost too little, too late.

Murray and the Arizona offense must improve their consistency throughout the game.

It's difficult enough to win in the NFL without being behind. (In Week 1, the Cardinals trailed Kansas City 14-0.) On Sunday, they were defeated 20-0.)

After three quarters, the season was in risk.

Kyler Murray can no longer afford to be outmatched. He must start games well and end them strong. He can't expect late-game heroics to compensate for his erratic play.

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