Kyler Murray: Cardinals' offense 'let the team down'

HOUSTON -- While Kyler Murray sat in front of his locker inside the visitor's locker room at NRG Stadium after the Arizona Cardinals couldn't complete their comeback against the Houston Texans on Sunday, the organized chaos of the postgame frenzy to get showered, changed and on the bus circled around him.

Yet, Murray didn't move.

He sat there, staring ahead or looking at his phone as team staffers stopped by to talk and quarterbacks coach Israel Woolfork sat next to Murray to talk and listen. More than 25 minutes passed before Murray stood and took off his shoulder pads. By then, about half the locker room had emptied out.

The frustration of the Cardinals' 21-16 loss was written all over Murray's face. A second straight win since Murray returned from a torn right ACL was Arizona's for the taking. After giving up 21 points and 333 yards -- 259 of which were thrown by Houston's rookie quarterback, C.J. Stroud -- Arizona tinkered with its defense at halftime. The Cardinals would shut out the Texans in the second half while picking Stroud off twice. (Stroud threw three interceptions for the game.) Yet, the Cardinals' offense couldn't figure out a way to come all the way back.

"I feel like offensively, myself, I feel like had enough chances to win the game," Murray said during his news conference. "Let the team down. That's how I feel."

Murray tried to do his part and recreate the late-game magic from last week, when the Cardinals rallied to beat the Atlanta Falcons. He rushed for a touchdown from the 1-yard line on a fourth down in the third quarter on Sunday but couldn't convert the 2-point conversion on a quarterback keeper. From there, Arizona failed to convert its next three fourth downs.

Murray finished 20-of-30 passing for 214 yards, with one TD pass and one interception -- along with 51 rushing yards and a score. But Murray said it wasn't enough.

"Yeah, we made some plays, but it just felt like the defense did what they needed to do and we didn't hold up our end of the bargain on our side," Murray said.

"So, that was frustrating. It felt like we had too many opportunities not to win that game."

Despite it being just his second game back, Murray wouldn't give himself a break.

His standard, Murray said, is his standard.

"I'm sure this one's going to sting," Murray added.

It was, however, another step, another situation, another hurdle for Murray and the Cardinals' offense in a second half of a season that'll be full of them. Arizona played in a hostile road environment for the first time with Murray, who had to burn a timeout in each half because of operational issues. Murray said his footwork was off on a fourth-down pass that was slightly behind tight end Trey McBride and fell incomplete. Murray wants the offense to be smoother in and out of the huddle, to communicate better and to have more urgency.

The general feeling around Arizona's offense is that it's close. How close, though, differs.

"I think it's very close," tackle D.J. Humphries said. "I think this game was the epitome of a game of inches."

Said wide receiver Marquise Brown: "I feel like we're close and far at the same time. I feel like it's a lot of things we do well, a lot of things we don't do well. Um, just got to keep practicing, keep working on it."

In the immediate aftermath Sunday, Murray couldn't see the optimism of being close and a few plays away from a win. It'll come together with reps, coach Jonathan Gannon said.

"It's going to continue to improve," Gannon said. "He made some big-time plays today and, just like everybody, I'm sure he wants a couple back, but I thought he played well."

Each of Murray's two games have been an education. He's learning what he can do -- and to what level.

Running the offense has been an adjustment with the terminology as has been having a new voice, that of new offensive coordinator Drew Petzing, in his ear. Murray's had to learn how to adjust his footwork to fit the West Coast offense. Last week, he slid for the first time on his reconstructed knee. And he's been trying to keep old habits out of his head, which is an additional task on top of everything else Murray has been navigating.

"It'll be a good learning lesson for us to go back and watch and be able to learn from those things," Murray said. "I feel like we made some strides today, but we lost."

During his postgame speech in the locker room, Gannon made sure to let his players know that they went nose-to-nose with a playoff-caliber team.

That wasn't enough for Murray. He wants to win.

"There's no moral victories when it comes to what we're doing," Murray said. "So, it's just frustrating."