Would fit Hopkins have saved Cardinals against Packers?
DeAndre Hopkins was missing for more than two quarters of the Arizona Cardinals' first loss of the year against the Green Bay Packers.
The Arizona Cardinals acknowledged the impact of DeAndre Hopkins' injury-affected outing against the Green Bay Packers in their first defeat of the year, but Kyler Murray said his team should still have played better.
Hobbling Hopkins missed by Cardinals
The Cardinals came into Thursday night's huge game against the Packers looking to stretch their unbeaten start to 8-0 – a new franchise record.
Instead, Arizona went down 24-21 to Green Bay, who also improved to 7-1.
You may also enjoy:
A last-gasp Murray interception – his second of the night – decided the game, but the earlier absence of wide receiver Hopkins had restricted the Cards to that point.
Having been dealing with a hamstring injury heading into the Packers game, Hopkins went out for more than two quarters due to the same issue.
Hopkins caught both of his targets for two first downs and 66 yards, but he had averaged 6.7 targets and 4.7 receptions per game throughout the Cardinals' winning run.
The former Houston Texans wideout failed to add to his seven season touchdowns, with Arizona's three scores all coming across the ground.
Unable to look to Hopkins as often as he would like, quarterback Murray threw multiple picks and no TDs in a game for the first time in his career.
No excuses made by Murray
But the Packers were also without their elite WR Davante Adams, along with number two option Allen Lazard, and Aaron Rodgers was still able to lead Green Bay to victory.
Murray was reluctant to make excuses, saying: "Obviously, if you take the best receiver in the game out [Hopkins], it makes it a little tough, but I have confidence in everybody out there.
"I don’t want to make it about that. It wasn’t about that. We just didn't play up to our standards."
Coach Kliff Kingsbury was willing to highlight Hopkins' absence, however.
"He's pretty good," he said. "I mean, that's a big part of our offense having that guy."
Crucially, the Cardinals were also missing players on defense. Corey Peters is out with COVID-19 and Rashard Lawrence has a calf injury, while Zaven Collins went out with a shoulder injury late in the first half.
J.J. Watt was surely the team's biggest miss, though, after his own shoulder injury that is set to end his season.
"We've got to get Rashard and Corey Peters back," Kingsbury said. "Obviously, having those two guys out was not ideal with J.J. going out as well. But you can't replace a presence like that."