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With Kyler Murray, DeAndre Hopkins back, Cardinals look like Super Bowl contenders again

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The returns of Kyler Murray and DeAndre Hopkins were worth the wait. And now that they're back, the Cardinals rightfully can be called Super Bowl contenders once more.

The Arizona Cardinals moved to 10-2 — their first season with 10 or more wins since 2015 — with a 33-22 victory over the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field on Sunday, as Murray and Hopkins took the field for the first time since Week 8. 

And they didn't take long to hook up. Murray found Hopkins on a 21-yard touchdown pass less than five minutes into the game, staking the Cardinals to a 7-0 lead. The would not trail all game. The Cardinals are now an NFL-best 7-0 on the road.

Murray completed 11 of 15 passes for 123 yards and two TDs and ran for 59 yards and two more TDs. Hopkins caught both of his targets for 32 yards but did not appear limited in the game. The Cardinals ran only 51 offensive plays but won the turnover battle, 4-0.

The Cardinals scored off turnovers on their first two possessions, both coming off Andy Dalton interceptions. The first pick was a poor throw behind Jakeem Grant that glanced off his hands into those of the Cardinals' Jalen Thompson. The second INT looked to be caught by Bears tight end Cole Kmet, but before he was touched down, the ball bounded right to Budda Baker, who ran it back 77 yards.

Murray then took a 9-yard run in for a score on the wet Soldier Field turf, making it 14-0, Arizona.

Chicago kept the game relatively close behind a strong effort from David Montgomery, who ran for 90 yards and caught eight passes for 51 yards, getting the Bears on the board for their first touchdown with a 1-yard run in the second quarter.

James Conner made a one-handed snag of a Murray screen and powered his way into the end zone to make it 21-7, Cardinals, and they added a Matt Prater field goal early in the third quarter.

Montgomery fueled a 75-yard TD drive, capped by a Dalton-to-Jimmy Graham touchdown connection on fourth and goal. That made it 24-14 late in the third quarter. (Dalton and Graham would once again hook up for another garbage-time TD.)

The Cardinals stalled on their subsequent drive, but Andy Lee's 58-yard punt buried the Bears at their own 2-yard line. The drive appeared to end on Jordan Hicks' 11-yard sack on third down, but a roughing-the-kicker penalty gave the Bears a first down and new life.

They immediately squandered it. Dalton had his pass tipped by Chandler Jones and intercepted by Byron Murphy, running it back to the Chicago 41-yard line. The Bears' defense had settled in prior to this drive, and they held the Cardinals to another field goal after a Conner run had them set up at the 1-yard line.

However, the 13-point lead proved to be ample. Dalton's fourth pick of the game was by defensive lineman Zach Allen, the first of his career. He ran back the failed screen attempt 25 yards, and two plays later Murray ran in his second rushing score of the game — untouched.

It wasn't a pristine performance all around by the Cardinals, as the special teams had a few gaffes, including the penalty on the punt and the botched extra-point try after Murray's second rushing score.

But you can't ask for much more from the performances turned in on the road in sloppy conditions — by the offense after two of their key playmakers returned, and by the defense, which intercepted four Dalton passes, sacked him three times and hit him several more.

This is a Super Bowl-caliber team if the Cardinals can keep their core healthy down the stretch.

Cardinas quarterback Kyler Murray accounted for all four Arizona touchdowns in his return against the Chicago Bears on Sunday. (AP Photo/David Banks)
Cardinas quarterback Kyler Murray accounted for all four Arizona touchdowns in his return against the Chicago Bears on Sunday. (AP Photo/David Banks)