How many people in attendance at State Farm Stadium recall the Arizona Cardinals’ play immediately following Kyler Murray’s Hail Mary completion to DeAndre Hopkins?
Those watching the game live were either looking at the video board to confirm their eyes hadn’t deceived them, or they were jumping up and down in joy.
But a few seconds were left on the clock after the stunning Hopkins catch. The Cardinals went out for a two-point conversion play as most of the humans in the stadium were trying to process what had just happened.
During that time, Murray kneeled down to avoid a potential botched kick, which could have led to a Bills two-point return that would have tied the game. So with the failed-yet-safe conversion play, the score ended up 32-30 in favor of Arizona.
Bettors who picked Arizona to cover a -2.5 spread, um, didn’t like the Cardinals’ decision to forgo an extra point attempt.
That’s putting it lightly.
“I literally have like 50 Venmo requests for money back when I checked my email last night,” head coach Kliff Kingsbury said Monday.
About that play design
ESPN’s Dan Orlovsky gave a nice breakdown of the Hail Mary play-call by Kingsbury just after the game, and Monday the Cardinals coach gave a little more info about what he was seeing.
Indeed, with a trips formation to the right and Hopkins on the left a play prior, Kingsbury probably liked the numbers with regards to Hopkins. However, it was Andy Isabella and Christian Kirk streaking across the middle of the field that apparently were the first options.
Hopkins, after all, was the only guy in the end zone.
When Murray was forced to escape the pocket faster than expected, it didn’t give Isabella or Kirk the opportunity to get all the way across the field and into the quarterback’s vision. So it was on to tossing it up for Hopkins.
“We said, ‘Hey, if you like him, give him a chance,’” Kingsbury said.
That, Murray did.
Running game life?
Lost in the back-and-forth game that ended in a flurry was the Cardinals’ consistent rushing attack.
Beyond Murray’s 11 carries for 61 yards, Kenyan Drake (16 carries, 100 yards) and Chase Edmonds (eight carries, 56 yards) both averaged well over 6.0 yards per pop.
That’s worth mentioning with the Seattle Seahawks defense up next being more stout against the run.
Kliff on Kyler not being able to see
Kliff Kingsbury enjoyed Hopkins’ catch most when asked Monday what he appreciated about the Hail Murray play.
He also enjoyed taking a little shot at Murray for how he reacted immediately after launching the pass.
“I thought it was funny that Kyler, being 5-(foot)-9, couldn’t see over anybody to see what was going on in the end zone so he had to look back at the big screen to see if we caught it or not,” the head coach said. “That takes a very heady, very competent athlete to throw that Hail Mary and turn immediately and look backwards.”
Isaiah Simmons steps in
Starting linebacker De’Vondre Campbell went down with a calf injury in the second half Sunday, and with that, rookie Isaiah Simmons got even more run than expected.
And it wasn’t as part of a three-linebacker package that Arizona wouldn’t have used very much facing a team with so many four-wide sets.
Simmons played 28 snaps after a career-high 32 last week. He pressured Bills quarterback Josh Allen twice on six blitzes and allowed two catches for 33 yards on four targets, per Pro Football Focus.
He nearly got a sack on Allen, but after trying to take the quarterback down as he got a dump-off to his running back, Simmons got up and chased down the play from behind.
“When new guys come in, offenses try to go after him,” safety Budda Baker said. “I didn’t really see them going after Isaiah. He did his job, he did all the things he had to do.”
Simmons was targeted soon after he replaced Campbell — at least it looked like it. He was chasing a tight end down the seam, but Allen tried to wedge something to either his man or receiver Stefon Diggs. Patrick Peterson jumped it with Allen not seeing the problem with throwing it to whomever he was attempting to target.
Kingsbury ‘fired up’ for CP3 in Phoenix
Just before Kingsbury’s Monday Zoom call with reporters, reports said the Phoenix Suns were set to acquire 10-time NBA All-Star point guard Chris Paul.
“I was actually texting Fitz about it earlier,” Kingsbury said of his receiver-slash-Suns minority owner. “I’m a huge fan of that guy and his leadership and toughness he’ll bring. For this young and exciting Suns team, what a great addition to have that leadership. I’m fired up about it.”
A four-day turnaround might be good to keep momentum from a last-second win over Buffalo.
It’s not great for filling out a roster amid a pandemic. The Cardinals lost nose tackle Corey Peters to a knee injury that Kingsbury was not optimistic about, and that’s after injuries to starter Jordan Phillips, Zach Allen, Leki Fotu and Rashard Lawrence, all of whom were projected rotation guys to start this season.
“There’s definitely a concern there. It’s a quick turnaround after a really physical game,” Kingsbury said of the line depth.
Because of how long COVID-19 clearances take, it’s likely going to be an in-house effort. Here’s a quick look at what Arizona has if Peters is out.
DE Jordan Phillips – He is dealing with a hamstring issue and was inactive Sunday.
DT Trevon Coley – An initial roster cut heading into Week 1, he spent all training camp with Arizona and was re-signed to the practice squad. Now he’s a member of the 53-man roster with a key role.
DE Josh Mauro – Signed off Jacksonville’s practice squad a few weeks back, he’s been a regular in the rotation against the Dolphins and Bills.
DE Angelo Blackson – A pickup before the season, he had five tackles against Buffalo.
NT Rashard Lawrence – The rookie nose tackle was further along than every other rookie coming out of training camp and is designated for return after an IR stint.
DE Michael Dogbe – He’s currently on the practice squad but has two full years of experience in defensive coordinator Vance Joseph’s defense.