Arizona Cardinals reach 5-0 for fifth time in franchise history, and for first time since 1974

49ers Cardinals Football
Posted at 7:34 PM, Oct 11, 2021
and last updated 2021-10-12 08:35:45-04

It wasn't pretty, but there are no pictures in the standings: 5-0 is 5-0, and the NFL's lone unbeaten team remained that way on Sunday. The Cardinals visit the Cleveland Browns this weekend.

"The NFL is hard," said DeAndre Hopkins. "It's a long season, it's hard to get a couple of wins, so to be 5-0, that's a good start."

"We can't get bored of winning, we can't get bored of doing the little things right," said Kyler Murray, echoing every player saying that the Cardinals can't get complacent.

The Cardinals reached 5-0 for the fifth time in franchise history, and the first since 1974.

"To be honest with you, it doesn't mean a thing," Budda Baker said bluntly. "We're just thinking one week at a time, 1-0. If you have that mentality, you don't become complacent."

Two times previously the Cardinals streak ended at five wins. In 1922, it was those Canton Bulldogs that tripped them up after starting 6-0. And in 1974, they were 7-0 before falling to the Dallas Cowboys.

But back to the present. This Cardinals team has done it with defense and offense. Their point differential is second-best in the league, and they are the only team in the NFL with four games scoring over 30 and four games allowing less than 20. The defense has held division rivals LA and San Francisco to 27 total points over the last two weeks. That unit's four 4th-down stops against the 49ers on Sunday was the first time the Cardinals have done that in at least the last 40 years.

"I don't think we've had that many stops at any level of any game I've played in," said Zach Allen. "I think it was good for us to kind of prove that we could win a gritty game like that, and the defense could win the game."

Hopkins couldn't recall being a part of a game where the defense was able to do that. He called it championship football.

"If I was in school right now and I got one out of five I would not be happy," Budda Baker joked. "We're made for these situations."

On Sunday, points were at a premium, and the Cardinals cashed in when it mattered most. Hopkins had six catches on the day, three of them coming in the final six minutes, including the game-winning touchdown.

Hopkins 770 catches since entering the league are the most in NFL history prior to a player's 30th birthday. The previous record-holder? None other than Larry Fitzgerald.

"I'm pretty sure somebody will come and beat that pretty soon, but to have that right now, that's a great honor," Hopkins said. "Especially a guy like Larry who's one of the best, definitely a Hall of Fame guy."

It wasn't all smiles for the Cardinals, however. Their 17-10 win came at a cost.

There's no denying that wins are hard to come by in the NFL, and for the Cardinals, so too was finding a productive tight end. They had found both through the first five weeks until Maxx Williams suffered a gruesome knee injury in the second quarter may have ended his season.

"You never want to see that happen to a brother of yours," said Murray. "The way that kind of unfolded for him, so very unfortunate."

"Maxx has been through hell and back," said Allen. "Personally, he's a close friend of mine and I know a lot of guys on this team love and respect him."

Williams, who battled back from an ankle injury that plagued him last season, had 16 catches for 193 yards and a touchdown, and was a huge part of the Cardinals offense.

NFL Network's Ian Rapaport reported Monday morning that the injury was season-ending, though Kliff Kingsbury wasn't ready to put that in stone speaking to the media Monday afternoon.

"We'll know more in the next few days," the head coach said.

"I hate what happened to Maxx," said Hopkins. "Maxx is my guy, but it's the next man up."

"Knowing him, he'll come back stronger," Allen said. "This isn't his first time facing adversity. This whole team's a bunch of guys that just know how to bounce back."

Rodney Hudson leaving the game with a rib injury was another significant blow. Kingsbury echoed that they'll know more in a few days on their starting center as well.

"For Rod to go down, obviously one of our captains we look up to him, but you know Max [Garcia] came in and did a great job," said Murray. "Talking to him [Hudson], I think he should be good."