Sunday's NFL: Cardinals stun Bills with 'Hail Murray' in final seconds
Glendale, Ariz. — DeAndre Hopkins knows that football fans might view his final, winning catch on Sunday as some sort of miracle. Even the players and coaches for the Arizona Cardinals couldn’t hide their disbelief when he jumped over three Buffalo defenders and came down with the ball.
But the three-time All-Pro insists there was no magic needed. Just skill.
“Two plus two equals four,” Hopkins said in his usual low-key delivery. “Go downfield. Throw it up.”
And that’s exactly what the Cardinals did. Kyler Murray completed a stunning 43-yard desperation pass to Hopkins with 2 seconds left to lift Arizona to an improbable 32-30 victory over the Bills.
The catch was as sensational as the throw, which was quickly dubbed a “Hail Murray.”
The game appeared lost for the Cardinals until Murray rolled out to his left as the seconds ticked off the clock. He flung the ball toward the end zone, where Hopkins was waiting with three Buffalo defenders draped all over him.
“I knew when it left my hand it had a chance,” Murray said. “You play quarterback, you can tell the trajectory, the touch of the ball.”
Somehow, Hopkins ripped the ball away from the mass of bodies, and the Cardinals started a wild celebration in the end zone.
“I’m still kind of at a loss for words,” Arizona coach Kliff Kingsbury said. “What a phenomenal play.”
Josh Allen threw a 21-yard touchdown pass to Stefon Diggs with 34 seconds left that looked like it would win it for the Bills (7-3). But Murray and the Cardinals (6-3, tied for the NFC West lead) ended the Bills’ winning streak at three games with the improbable throw and catch.
It was a crazy ending to another entertaining Cardinals game, which usually have come down to the final seconds in recent weeks. Murray threw for 245 yards, one touchdown and one interception. Hopkins had seven catches for 127 yards — and he’ll remember the last one for a long, long time.
“It was on three people. They were in position. It was just a better catch by I,” Hopkins said.
The Cardinals trailed 23-9 midway through the third quarter but responded with two touchdown drives sandwiched around a field goal to take a 26-23 lead by the beginning of the fourth. Murray, wearing bright yellow cleats, ran for both of the touchdowns, including a 15-yard dash up the middle that gave Arizona its first lead of the day.
“He is playing at a ridiculous level,” Kingsbury said. “You have seen it the last few weeks after that first month. Offensively, we have really settled in. Mixing in tempo making great decisions whether it is with his feet, his arm. It is fun to watch. He’s making us right on a lot of plays.”
Allen was having a mediocre game until the late drive that lasted 12 plays and went 73 yards. The quarterback capped the series with a perfect throw to a diving Diggs, who finished with 10 catches for 93 yards. But it wasn’t enough for the Bills, who couldn’t stop Hopkins in the end zone.
“Yeah, I thought we guarded it pretty well,” Bills safety Jordan Poyer said. “We had three people around him . … It’s really not a whole lot of anything else to say, just got to find a way to get that ball out of his hands some way, somehow.”
Allen completed 32 of 49 passes for 284 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions. Cole Beasley had 11 catches for 109 yards and a touchdown.
“You’re not gonna win every game, but to lose this one the way we did — it hurts,” Allen said.
Buffalo pushed ahead 23-9 when Allen hit Beasley for a 22-yard touchdown after Arizona’s Kenyan Drake lost a fumble.
But the Cardinals responded with a nine-play, 85-yard drive that ended with Murray’s 1-yard touchdown run. Zane Gonzalez followed with a 45-yard field goal and Murray ran for a 15-yard score for the 26-23 lead.
Allen handed the ball off to Isaiah McKenzie, who then turned and threw it back to the quarterback, who ran 12 yards for Buffalo’s opening score. Allen is the 11th Buffalo player to catch a touchdown pass this season, a franchise record.
Tyler Bass added field goals from 58, 55 and 54 yards for a 16-9 halftime lead. The rookie’ 54-yarder bounced off the right upright before going through for three points. They were the three longest field goals of his short career.
The Cardinals had a frustrating first half with 206 total yards but zero touchdowns. Gonzalez made field goals from 23, 42 and 21 yards.
►(At) Pittsburgh 36, Cincinnati 10: Ben Roethlisberger threw for a season-high 333 yards and four touchdowns despite being forced to stay away from the team facility all week due to COVID-19 protocols.
Roethlisberger, one of four Steelers put on the COVID-19 list last Monday following contact tracing after tight end Vance McDonald tested positive for the novel coronavirus, completed 27 of 46 passes on a blustery afternoon at Heinz Field. Roethlisberger connected with Diontae Johnson and JuJu Smith-Schuster for touchdowns in the first half and found rookie Chase Claypool twice in the second half as Pittsburgh improved to 9-0.
Cincinnati rookie quarterback Joe Burrow struggled to generate any momentum behind a patchwork offensive line. Two weeks after a promising victory over Tennessee, the Bengals (2-6-1) were reminded how much work remains under second-year head coach Zac Taylor. Cincinnati went 0 for 13 on third down and Burrow spent much of the second half under duress. T.J. Watt collected two of Pittsburgh’s four sacks as the Steelers won their 11th straight meeting with their division rival.
►(At) L.A. Rams 23, Seattle 16: Jared Goff passed for 302 yards, Darious Williams made two interceptions and the Rams took a share of the NFC West lead with Arizona and Seattle.
Malcolm Brown rushed for two touchdowns and Darrell Henderson had another score as the Rams (6-3) returned from their bye and held Seattle to three points after halftime to win for the fifth time in the rivals’ past six meetings.
Russell Wilson passed for 248 yards and rushed for 60 more for the Seahawks (6-3), who have lost three of four after a 5-0 start. Wilson threw two interceptions and lost a fumble, giving him 10 combined turnovers in Seattle’s three losses.
Los Angeles’ solid performance was dampened by the loss of stalwart left tackle Andrew Whitworth to a knee injury late in the first half. Whitworth, a 15-year NFL veteran, was taken off the field on a cart.
►(At) New Orleans 27, San Francisco 13: Drew Brees was pulled at halftime with a rib injury after passing for just 76 yards and one touchdown, but Alvin Kamara scored three times and the Saints' defense largely stifled the 49ers (4-6).
Brees’ injury appeared to occur when defensive tackle Kentavius Street was called for a personal foul on a sack in which he got a clean shot at the 41-year-old quarterback and landed directly on top of him. Officials ruled Street violated the NFL’s “bodyweight rule,” which bans defenders from landing on a defenseless passer with all or most of their weight.
Brees missed just two plays after the hit and returned for a third-down pitchback to Kamara that resulted in a 2-yard touchdown that tied it at 10.
Brees continued to play for the rest of the second quarter, going 5 for 6 on a two-minute drive that he completed with a 3-yard toss to Kamara that made it 17-10 just before halftime. But when the second half began, Jameis Winston took the field while Brees stood with his helmet on and his hands on his hips in front of New Orleans’ bench, where he watched the rest of a sixth straight victory for the Saints (7-2).
►(At) Miami 29, L.A. Chargers 21: Tua Tagovailoa had help from a less-heralded rookie while Justin Herbert struggled against a blitz-happy defense as the surprising Dolphins earned their fifth consecutive victory.
Salvon Ahmed, making his first career start, ran for 85 yards on 21 carries and scored a 1-yard touchdown on Miami’s first play. The undrafted Ahmed filled in with two other running backs injured and sparked a ground game ranked fourth worst in the league.
Herbert threw a costly interception and was outplayed in the matchup of high draft picks by Tagovailoa, who passed for 169 yards with two scores and improved to 3-0 since taking over for Ryan Fitzpatrick. Herbert struggled against Miami’s blitzing defense and threw for a season-low 187 yards.
The Dolphins (6-3) have their best nine-game record since 2001, and under second-year coach Brian Flores they’ve won more games than in all of 2019. The Chargers (2-7) dropped their third game in a row and have their worst record at this point in a season since 2015.
►(At) Las Vegas 37, Denver 12: Josh Jacobs ran for 112 yards and two TDs and Jeff Heath had two of the Raiders’ five takeaways.
Derek Carr didn’t have to do much for the Raiders (6-3) offensively for a change as the running game and an opportunistic defense that came into the game last in the league with five takeaways carried the load.
Heath intercepted Drew Lock twice in the first half, Carl Nassib and Nick Kwiatkoski got picks in the fourth quarter and Nevin Lawson forced and recovered a fumble by DaeSean Hamilton to send the Broncos (3-6) to their third loss in four games.
The game changed late in the first half after Lock appeared to run in for a TD in the closing seconds that would have given the Broncos a 13-10 lead. Tight end Noah Fant was called for holding in the end zone on the play and Lock threw his second interception to Heath on the next play.
The Raiders then put the game away with two long scoring drive in the third quarter.
►(At) Green Bay 24, Jacksonville 20: Aaron Rodgers threw two touchdown passes and ran for a third score as the Packers overcame numerous mistakes to rally.
Rodgers put the Packers (7-2) ahead for good with 9:11 left by throwing a 6-yard TD pass to Davante Adams, who had left with an ankle injury earlier in the second half. Rodgers also had a 5-yard touchdown run and a 78-yard scoring strike to Marquez Valdes-Scantling, who caught four passes for a career-high 149 yards.
Keelan Cole scored on a franchise-record 91-yard punt return and a 12-yard reception for Jacksonville (1-8), which lost its eighth straight. Jacksonville’s James Robinson rushed for 109 yards on 23 carries.
Cole became the first Jaguar ever to score on a punt return and a reception in the same game, as well as the first player from any team ever to accomplish that feat against the Packers..
Green Bay entered the game as a two-touchdown favorite but had enough breakdowns to give Jacksonville hope. The Jaguars rallied from a 17-10 halftime deficit by scoring 10 points off turnovers in the second half.
►(At) N.Y. Giants 27, Philadelphia 17: Daniel Jones threw for 244 yards and ran for a touchdown, and Wayne Gallman Jr. had two TD runs.
The Giants improved to 3-7 under first-year coach Joe Judge with their second straight win, snapping an eight-game losing streak against Philly. The Eagles (3-5-1) still lead the NFL’s worst division, the NFC East. Dallas and Washington are each 2-7.
Carson Wentz and the rest of Philadelphia’s offense were out of sync following a bye. They were 0 for 9 on third downs. Boston Scott had a 56-yard TD run early in the third quarter but the Eagles couldn’t get closer.
Jones ran untouched 34 yards for a score to cap a well-executed 85-yard drive to start the game, and the Giants led the entire game. It was similar to Jones’ 80-yard run against Philadelphia in a 22-21 loss on Oct. 22 except he didn’t stumble at the 8 this time.
Jones finished with 64 yards rushing and the Giants had 151 on the ground.
►(At) Cleveland 10, Houston 7: Nick Chubb returned from a stint on injured reserve and scored a touchdown early in the fourth quarter — topping 100 yards rushing along with teammate Kareem Hunt.
Chubb reeled off a 59-yard run with 1:07 left and then smartly ran out of bounds at the 2-yard line instead of scoring so the Texans, who were out of timeouts, wouldn’t get the ball back. Chubb finished with 126 yards on 19 carries in nasty weather. Hunt finished with 104 yards, including 37 yards – and three first downs – on Cleveland’s final drive as the Browns (6-3) ran out the clock.
With the Browns up 3-0 on a day when passing was almost impossible, Chubb, playing for the first time since Oct. 4, took a handoff on the right, cut left and ran past Texans defensive end J.J. Watt as Cleveland finally found the end zone to go up 10-0.
Deshaun Watson’s 16-yard TD pass to Pharaoh Brown with 4:59 left pulled the Texans (2-7) within three, but Hunt pounded away after the Browns were backed up at their 3 after a muffed kickoff.