He raced 5 yards on third-and-5 to a game-clinching first down with 1:45 left in the fourth quarter, as he barely got past the first-down marker on the Cardinals’ sideline. He ran out of bounds right in front of Cardinals coach Kliff Kingsbury, who broke out a big smile after seeing where Murray’s feet last touched in bounds.
The play was reviewed but upheld, ultimately giving Arizona a 34-33 win, its second this season.
“It was close,” Kingsbury said. “I felt like the angle, it was going to be tough to overturn, but I know it was close. It was right there.”
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Murray wasn’t sure whether the play would be overturned or not because of how long the officials took to review it, he said.
“Looking at it now, I probably should’ve stuck the ball out, but it’s a good learning lesson for me,” Murray said. “I will make sure I get it next time.”
The play, which Kingsbury had taken from another team, was a quarterback keeper with two options: throw it to either the receiver in the flat or coming across the field, or keep it and run while staying in bounds and getting the first down. Murray’s first look was the pass, if it was open. But it wasn’t — and it worked out exactly like left guard Justin Pugh had seen on film.
When Murray took off to his right, he began yelling and pointing for tight end Maxx Williams to start blocking.
“I heard him say ‘start blocking,’ so I turned and found the first guy I saw,” Williams said. “I know what he’s capable of doing, so [I was] hoping he got the first down.”
The Cardinals practice that type of scramble-drill play “all the time,” wide receiver Trent Sherfield said.
When the passing option wasn’t open and Murray took off on his feet, his teammates didn’t doubt Murray would get the win-sealing first down.
“I knew they were aggressive downhill, so if Kyler got the edge, I knew it was going to be a first down,” Pugh said. “Maybe a little closer than I would have liked but, hey, we got the call, we won the game today.”
Murray’s run was an example of the No. 1 pick’s ability to make plays with his feet. He threw for 340 yards and three touchdowns on 27-for-37 passing, but it was his feet that helped him stay out of trouble while also making plays.
It started in the first quarter, when Murray spun away from pressure and then scrambled some more only to set and fire an 18-yard completion to Larry Fitzgerald.
“He’s a quick little thing,” wide receiver Pharoh Cooper said. “He has all the talent in the world. Obviously, he’s making the smart play. If there’s nothing there, he has the talent to use his legs, and that’s what’s going to help him a lot, help us win some games.”
Murray finished with 32 rushing yards on 11 carries, two fewer than the team-high 34 by both David Johnson and Chase Edmonds. He had two first downs and a run for 14 yards.
His ability to scramble, Sherfield said, frees up and creates plays out of dire situations — such as his pass to Fitzgerald, another play Arizona works on daily in practice. With Murray’s mobility, Sherfield said the receivers need to be more “definitive and decisive” with their cuts.
Pugh thinks Murray’s ability to run evens the playing field, and Fitzgerald believes Murray has a great understanding of when to run and when not to, comparing Murray’s decision-making to that of Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson.
“That’s his game, and he does a really nice job of protecting himself for the most part,” Kingsbury said. “The times that he takes a little more physical hits, if you will, is when it’s on called runs.
“I can tell he prefers doing it on his own, and when it’s not there, he makes a play. That’s part of his game.”