Kyler Murray’s picks, Cardinals’ late botched drives lead to Lions win
Kliff Kingsbury took blame for calling the plays and Kyler Murray accepted the fact that he didn’t make them. Three turnovers through three quarters and two quickly-spoiled drives in the fourth bit the Arizona Cardinals in their first loss of 2020.
Arizona (2-1) ran just eight plays over two possessions in the final 15 minutes of a 26-23 loss to the Detroit Lions on Sunday. Before it’d gotten to that, Murray had already thrown three interceptions, tying a career high.
“I’ll have to take a look at the film and see kind of what happened there,” Kingsbury said. “We just can’t turn the ball over like that — three times against a good team and expect to win the game.
“I think the percentage of winning the game if you have three turnovers and they have zero is like 5%.”
Murray certainly wasn’t alone in his struggles against a previously winless Detroit (1-2) squad. His first pick came eight plays into the first Cardinals possession and followed an early Detroit field goal.
A drop by KeeSean Johnson was followed by a high throw after Murray was hit on the release. His wobbly pass went off tight end Dan Arnold’s hands and was intercepted by safety Duron Harmon.
Two possessions later, after Murray led Arizona on an 80-yard drive for a 13-yard touchdown to Andy Isabella, the quarterback attempted to fit a pass to Larry Fitzgerald, who was streaking across the middle. Linebacker Jamie Collins jumped it and came up with Murray’s second pick.
And in the third quarter as Arizona trailed 17-16, Murray flung a bad pass behind DeAndre Hopkins and was intercepted by 2020 third overall pick Jeff Okudah, who made up for a whiffed tackle on Murray on the quarterback’s 1-yard rushing score during the second quarter.
“On that one, I threw it behind him,” Murray said. “I thought it was a user-error. That’s a completion every day of the week. The one with Dan, I got my arm hit.
“Then the other one to Larry, just a good play, bad read.”
Murray finished 23-of-35 passing for 270 passing yards and two touchdowns, both to Isabella. Ten of his passes and 137 yards worth of advancing went to Hopkins, who continued to thrive after the catch.
Meanwhile, Larry Fitzgerald extended his catch streak to 246 straight games but accounted for zero yards.
“He’s the heart and soul of this team,” Kingsbury said of Fitzgerald’s quiet day. “That’s completely on me.”
Considering all that for Arizona, the game was close throughout. The Cardinals and Lions traded scoring punches throughout before Detroit owned the fourth quarter.
With 12 minutes left, the Cardinals were backed up to their 2-yard line. A Kenyan Drake two-yard run was followed with two incompletions by Murray. Detroit got the ball back in Arizona territory after a punt, then scored on a field goal, tying the game at 23, despite advancing just 19 yards on the drive.
Arizona could only muster a five-play drive in response.
And it never got the ball back.
“You just can’t have that, especially when the defense gives you a stop,” Murray said of the final two Cardinals possessions that were duds. “Obviously fatigue, (the defense is) tired and stuff like that. We got to give them a break and move the ball and we didn’t. Went three-and-out, gave (the Lions) good field position.
“Last drive, last play, I made a bad read. Andy was wide open. That’s just what it is.”
Lions quarterback Matt Stafford ran out the final 4:49 with a 10-play, 70-yard possession that ended on a 39-yard Matt Prater field goal at 0:00. As it’d been in prior games and earlier Sunday, missed plays and penalties hurt the Cardinals.
By the end of it, the Cardinals offense took blame for the turnovers and blown opportunities. They had posted 55 more total yards, six more first downs, one more play, 0.8 more yards per play, plus had better third down and red zone success percentages. Still, Detroit held the ball five minutes longer.
Kingsbury tried to put it on himself.
“We had the ball with the chance to win it during that second (fourth-quarter possession) and didn’t get it done,” the head coach said. “Felt like my play-call selection was very suspect there when we were backed up (on the first). We get the ball at the 50 (on the final drive), get a shot at it and can’t come up with a play to move it past that.
“You give that quarterback, who’s a Pro Bowl player, the ball last, he’s going to beat you.”