NFL

NFL touchdowns leader Conner surpassing expectations for Cardinals

By Sports Desk November 08, 2021

Kliff Kingsbury conceded James Conner is performing way beyond his expectations after the running back helped an undermanned Arizona Cardinals power past the San Francisco 49ers.

The Cardinals were anticipated to face an uphill battle in Week 9 as star quarterback Kyler Murray and wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins were ruled out through injury.

Also missing receiver A.J. Green (reserve/COVID-19 list) and with defensive lineman J.J. Watt on injured reserve, Arizona refused to let their plethora of absences condemn them to a damaging defeat in the NFC playoff race.

Instead, the Cardinals have the best record in the NFL after moving to 8-1 with a convincing 31-17 road victory.

Key to the win was Conner, who now leads the NFL with 11 total touchdowns after scoring three against the Niners in a game that saw him finish with 173 yards from scrimmage.

Signed in April after a largely unsuccessful stint with the Pittsburgh Steelers, Conner has served as one of the more astute acquisitions of the NFL offseason, with the display he produced after Chase Edmonds' injury forced him to take the bulk of the workload serving as emphatic evidence of that status.

"I thought he was more of a downhill, power back just watching from afar," Kingsbury said after the game.

"Then we got him here, and he made some spectacular catches in training camp, with his quick twitches and routes.

"He's been above-and-beyond anything any of us could've expected."

Veteran backup Colt McCoy averaged 9.58 yards per attempt in relief of Murray and credited the MVP contender and the talent around him as he enjoyed an efficient day few outside of Arizona will have envisioned.

"If I didn't think I could still play, I wouldn't be playing," McCoy said. "But I also understand my role.

"There is not a bigger fan of Kyler Murray than me right now. I've learned a lot from him in my short time here, and he's very special.

"I'm not Kyler Murray… Me, I'm benefiting from being on a great team."

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