Sunday’s 29-23 win was never pretty, but it was no less emotional for the Arizona Cardinals.
Down 20-0 on the road against the Las Vegas Raiders, the Cardinals came back from a brutal offensive start to force overtime on the final play of regulation, then pulled out of nowhere in overtime .
Arizona opened overtime with the ball and crossed into Raiders territory, but a perhaps ill-advised pass from Kyler Murray to Marquise Brown on fourth-and-1 led to a turnover on downs after the deep throw was knocked down out of Brown’s hand.
The Raiders took the lead and drove in more than ever when Hunter Renfrow fumbled after catching a Derek Carr pass. Fortunately for Las Vegas, the ball bounced and the Raiders drove around the end of the field when they recovered. Unfortunately for Vegas, Renfrow had one more fumble there.
Cardinals linebacker Isaiah Simmons, Renfrow’s college teammate at Clemson, hit the tight end, forced a fumble, then cornerback Byron Murphy Jr. ran the ball back 59 yards for the touchdown.
The end of the game was delayed for a few minutes as officials appeared to review whether or not Murphy had pulled DeSean Jackson and dropped the ball before entering the end zone. Further replays showed that Murphy didn’t … but it was close enough to be a lesson learned.
Kyler Murray made an incredible comeback
The Cardinals didn’t score until midway through the third quarter, but Murray was up by that point. The recently-paid quarterback got the ball with his team down 23-7 and led two consecutive touchdown drives and two-point conversions.
The first conversion was a miracle in itself, as Murray was pressured about 2 seconds into the play, but scrambled and scrambled and scrambled until the Raiders finally left an open hole for him to run for the score.
Per Statistics of the Next GenMurray ran 84.9 yards before finding the end zone:
Before that first touchdown drive, Murray was 8-for-15 for 55 yards and an interception. Over the final quarter and a half plus overtime, he was 23-for-35 for 222 yards and a touchdown, and it could have been even more had Brown owned the fourth-down throw.
This was absolutely a game the Cardinals should have lost. Their offense was a shambles for most of it, then they had to cross the end zone four times to tie the game. There were several times when the Raiders could have put the game away, but they missed.
Instead, the game ended in the oddest way possible. Such is life in this NFL season.