Cardinals coach aims to extend season-opener unbeaten streak

(Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images) Kliff Kingsbury
(Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images) Kliff Kingsbury /

Arizona Cardinals head coach Kliff Kingsbury will attempt to remain undefeated in regular-season openers this coming Sunday.

Just hours from now, head coach Kliff Kingsbury will be embarking on his third campaign with the Arizona Cardinals.

The Cards will kick off their 2021 schedule this coming Sunday, when Kingsbury and his squad take on the Tennessee Titans in one of the week’s most anticipated matchups.

On the line for Kingsbury will be a season-opener unbeaten streak that began back in September of 2019. Keeping it alive will be quite challenging, given the fact that the Titans won the AFC South Division last fall with an 11-5 record.

Arizona Cardinals recorded a win and a tie in their last two season-openers

Two years ago, Kingsbury was welcomed to the NFL in an extremely odd way. In his first game with Arizona, the former Texas Tech University head man presided over his team’s 27-27 tie with the Detroit Lions. Considering how bad the Redbirds played during the first half of that contest, Kingsbury was fortunate that his professional coaching debut did not end in defeat.

The Lions, thanks to a pair of second-quarter touchdown tosses from Matthew Stafford, had built a 17-3 halftime advantage over the Cardinals. Kingsbury’s “Air Raid” offense was grounded during the contest’s first 30 minutes, adding fuel to the fire for those who predicted that the system would not find success at the pro level.

With just 5:57 left to go in regulation, rookie quarterback Kyler Murray finally got untracked. A 27-yard scoring strike to David Johnson got the Cards to within eight points (24-16). Larry Fitzgerald‘s four-yard touchdown reception (combined with a two-point conversion toss to Christian Kirk) then tied the matchup at 24 apiece with just 43 seconds left to play.

The two squads exchanged field goals during the overtime period, but neither Arizona nor Detroit could register the score needed to secure the victory. While Kingsbury certainly would’ve preferred a win, a tie is always better than a loss.

Last year, the Cardinals made their way to California to take on the San Francisco 49ers on opening day. A one-yard touchdown plunge by Kenyan Drake put the team ahead for good (24-20) with 5:03 left in the fourth quarter. 49ers signal-caller Jimmy Garoppolo responded by guiding his teammates down to the Cards’ 16-yard line, but the threat was ultimately stymied when Byron Murphy batted away a fourth-down pass with 33 seconds left to play.

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Kingsbury will be shooting for three openers without a loss this coming weekend in Tennessee. Rest assured, the Titans would love nothing more than to prevent Arizona’s head coach from achieving that feat.

(Statistics provided by ESPN’s NFL Scores)