No-Fly Zone: Cardinals 32-30 win vs. Bills

Game Recap:

“2 + 2 = 4. Go downfield, throw it up.” DeAndre Hopkins said in his post-game interview. 

Hopkins had an amazing touchdown catch to win the game against the Buffalo Bills on a last-ditch drive where they had to get in the end zone with 34 seconds left on the game clock. 

With 11 seconds remaining in the game and the Cardinals still down by four points, quarterback Kyler Murray threw a “Hail Murray” 43 yards to the end zone in Hopkins’ vicinity where he was covered by three Bills defenders. There are really no words to describe the throw and catch other than it was absolutely unbelievable. Murray had to scramble to get the pass off and the play looked as if it was going to end in a sack, but it certainly didn’t.

Hopkins jumped the higher than the defenders and was able to make the game-winning catch, the best catch of his career while completing one of, if not, the greatest TD catches to win a game in Cardinals’ franchise history.

 The final score in the State Farm Stadium on Sunday was 32-30. Hopkins finished the game with seven receptions for 127 yards and one TD and is crowned the “No-Fly Zone’ MVP for this week. 

Murray finished the game completing 22/32 pass attempts for 245 yards, one TD and one interception. He also rushed 11 times for 61 yards and two TDs.

The Cardinals improved to a record of 6-3 and are currently in a three-way tie with the Seattle Seahawks and Los Angeles Rams for the NFC West division lead. Since the Cardinals have won all of their divisional matchups this season, they own the division tiebreaker.

The Cardinals offense struggled in the first half to find the end zone after strong drives because of the tough Bills defense.  

Zane Gonzalez, kicker for the Cardinals, was utilized frequently, putting some chip-shot field goals through the uprights and the first nine points on the scoreboard for the team. Gonzalez finished the day completing 4/4 field goal attempts with the longest being from 45 yards and 2/2 on extra point attempts.

Bills quarterback Josh Allen put together a strong performance, completing 32/49 pass attempts, throwing for 284 yards, 2 TDs and 2 untimely interceptions. Allen rushed seven times for 38 yards. The game came down to who wanted to win the most, and it ultimately was the Cardinals.

The score, a few minutes before halftime, was 13-9 with the Bills in the lead, which seemed to be manageable for Murray and the offense to come back only down one possession. Before halftime, Allen and the offense drove up field and sent in kicker Tyler Bass to take a 16-9 lead heading to the locker room.

Cardinals defensive coordinator Vance Joseph came out at the start of the third quarter calling an aggressive game and the Cardinals defense looked like a whole different unit. The defense held the Bills to a punt after they received the ball to start the second half. This was the first drive Allen and the Bills offense didn’t put any points on the board, which led to their first punt of the game.

The next drive for the Cardinals ended in an unfortunate forced fumble committed by running back Kenyan Drake. Allen and the Bills offense capitalized on the fumble and the short field.  Three plays later, they got the ball into the end zone, putting the Cardinals in a 23-9 deficit. The Bills looked to be running away with the lead early in the third quarter.

Murray and the offense went right back to work and began marching down the field at a fast pace with the help from Hopkins, Larry Fitzgerald, Christian Kirk and running backs Drake and Chase Edmonds. The offense only saw one third down on the drive, showing how well they were moving the ball. On first-and-goal from the Bills one-yard line, Murray ran it in, and they cut the Bills’ lead to 23-16.

The Bills offense started to fall apart with the Cardinals defensive core bringing in some heat and were sent back to the benches on the next drive with a three-and-out. Bills punter Corey Bojorquez shanked a punt, kicking the ball for only 12 yards and bringing the Cardinals offense on the field starting at the Bills 30-yard line. 

The Cardinals offense could not find the end zone and the drive ended in a field goal from Gonzalez, cutting the Bills’ lead to 23-19 and making the game interesting.

Cardinals veteran cornerback Patrick Peterson intercepted Allen three plays into the next drive after missing two possible INTs earlier in the game. This INT completely changed the momentum of the game and brought Murray back on the field with great field position. 

In four plays and 1:13 remaining in the third quarter, Murray and the offense had the opportunity to take the lead from the Bills. They drove down the field and with eight seconds remaining in the third quarter, a 15-yard QB run from Murray put the Cardinals in the lead with a score of 26-23 as the third quarter concluded.

The fourth quarter brought so much anxiety but was the most exciting quarter of the game. The Bills did not score on the first drive of the fourth quarter and punted the ball away. With only a three-point lead and the majority of the fourth quarter left to play, Murray and the offense kept playing aggressive, trying to advance their narrow lead. 

The drive ended in Murray getting picked off from a pass that bounced out of Fitzgerald’s hands. The ball was underthrown. Fitzgerald made a valiant effort, but the ball landed right into the grasp of Bills cornerback Jordan Poyer. 

The next two drives saw both teams punt the ball and the score still remained 26-23 with just under five minutes left in the game. The Bills got the ball back with 4:36 left in the fourth and Cardinals cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick cut a route intended to wide receiver Gabriel Davis and picked off Allen. 

All the Cardinals offense had to do was keep the ball on the ground and convert a couple first downs to win the game. Of course, they wanted to keep everyone on their toes and ended the drive in a punt.

Buffalo returned to the field with 3:35 remaining in the game and all timeouts still available. Allen connected with wide receiver Stefon Diggs in the end zone and with the extra point made, the Bills reclaimed the lead 30-26.

Arizona came on the field with 34 seconds left in the game and needed to drive all the way down field and score a TD to win the game. Murray completed some short passes in the middle of the field and head coach Kliff Kingsbury had to burn both remaining timeouts. 

With 11 seconds left in the game and time for two more plays, Murray scrambled out of the pocket running to the left side of the field and dodging Bills defenders to bomb the ball 43 yards down field to Hopkins. Hopkins jumped in the air and everyone watching the play was holding their breath. He completed the catch leaving all viewers and both teams in absolute disbelief as the Cardinals celebrated their epic victory. Words do not do the catch justice. It was absolutely unbelievable. The play will be in the highlight reel for a long time, if not forever. Game over and the Cardinals won 32-30. 

Offense:

Murray is so amazing, and I love watching him play, I really can’t say it enough. He breaks records every week and is the first QB since 1956 to have a rushing TD in five consecutive games. I am so thankful he is one of the leaders of the organization. He is constantly playing at a high level and his elusiveness puts me in awe every week.

Tight end Dan Arnold was utilized, and he constantly proves beneficial on drives. Darrell Daniels got injured in the game, but it is exciting to see tight ends in the mix, which is something I have said the offense needed to do.

I have been saying this every week and my wishes were finally met — get Hopkins the ball. He was an absolute beast and made a play when the organization needed him to. He is so agile, has gifted hands, and is undoubtedly one of the best receivers in the game. The dynamic Hopkins and Murray have is one of the most exciting in the NFL.

Drake returned to the starting lineup after missing one game with an injury. He hurt the team by committing a fumble, but it’s football and that happens. He still managed to rush 16 times for 100 yards and saw the ball on the next drive after the fumble. The organization has faith in his abilities and I hope he keeps improving every week because little mistakes put more pressure on both sides of the ball, which force errors. The offense was powerful and needed to be up against a tough Bills team and they delivered. 

“Larry Legend” got the ball more and I love watching him make plays. I mean this is a receiver who has been in the league for 16 seasons and has more tackles than dropped passes. C’mon, that is just phenomenal. I am not really a stat girl. I care more about winning games, but that is just ridiculous. Fitzgerald is the most well-rounded football player on and off the field and he is such a great contributor to the organization.

This offense is the best the Cardinals have been in the last five years and I couldn’t be happier with where they can go.

Defense:

What more does Isaiah Simmons have to prove to be a starter on this defense? He’s 6’4, about 240 pounds, quick as can be, and he can make open-field tackles on some of the best receivers in the league in his rookie season. Joseph put him on the line of scrimmage for a couple of plays and he almost sacked Allen on his knees with one hand. It’s crazy how great he is and how great he will be.

The defense had a lot of missing components in the game against the Dolphins two weeks ago and it was evident. With everyone off the COVID-19 reserved list and players back from injuries, they absolutely showed out. Haason Reddick, Kirkpatrick and Budda Baker are all really good. 

The defense can enjoy their tequila con piña, but it is back to work because the team plays the Seattle Seahawks for the second time this season in the Thursday Night Football game. Joseph knows exactly what he is doing and the defense just gets better and better each week. 

Kliff Kingsbury’s Decisions:

Kingsbury almost lost the game for the team again this week, but the team still prevailed. He is a humble guy, passionate and wants to win. There isn’t much more I can ask of him. The K1-K2 dynamic is amazing and gets better each week.

Sometimes, I think he tries to call plays that look pretty, but who cares how the ball gets to the end zone if it results in a TD. With a narrow lead, the play calls ended up being pass plays, which resulted in incomplete passes to stop the clock? It’s a little frustrating, but it’s all about improvement and he continues to learn from his mistakes to become the head coach the organization and the fans have needed.

The matchup against the Seahawks will really represent how much he has learned since the last time the two teams met and I couldn’t be more thrilled for it. Russell Wilson is slowly slipping out of the MVP running after throwing multiple INTs in back-to-back weeks and losing games. I hope the Cardinals just expose every flaw in their organization and beat them for the second time this season. 

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