A face-mask penalty by the Los Angeles Rams on third down helped the Arizona Cardinals keep their first possession alive on Sunday, and the Cardinals made sure to take advantage.
Two plays later, Arizona used the eye candy of receiver Andy Isabella circling about the backfield and too much attention on DeAndre Hopkins to give quarterback Kyler Murray a wide open pass to tight end Dan Arnold.
It ended up as a 59-yard catch-and-run touchdown.
But the Cardinals offense floundered after that as they trailed 14-7 at halftime. Murray threw six straight incompletions over three straight three-and-outs before a 51-second drive to end the half led to a 48-yard Zane Gonzalez field goal miss. Even that drive was by way of a penalty, with 25 yards coming on Rams cornerback Jalen Ramsey’s defensive pass interference on DeAndre Hopkins.
Murray was 3-for-12 for 73 yards and the touchdown at halftime.
The 59-yard touchdown was made possible with Rams corners Jalen Ramsey and Troy Hill, as well as safety Jordan Fuller, all latched on to Hopkins, leaving Arnold freely streaking downfield.
According to NextGenStats, Arnold’s 14.3 yards of separation were the second-most for any player on a deep shot this year.
The play put Arizona ahead 7-0 less than two minutes into the game and gave them an explosive play that’d been lacking over the past two games, losses to the Seattle Seahawks and New England Patriots.
Murray’s 20th touchdown pass this year also put him in elite company.
Only he, Cam Newton (2011 and 2015) and Kordell Stewart (1997) have recorded 20 or more touchdown passes and 10 or more rushing scores in a season.
Nobody in NFL history until Murray had done so through 12 games.