Cardinals were giddy, had Christian Kirk’s deep TD planned all week
Midway through the second quarter on Monday night, Christian Kirk was back to field a punt for the Arizona Cardinals.
After it went for a touchback, the wide receiver then made his way toward the huddle for the next offensive series against the Dallas Cowboys when his fellow wideout Andy Isabella approached him in a hurry.
“Andy ran on the field and was like, ‘We’re calling the play! We’re calling the play! You’re gonna go 80 yards for a touchdown!'” Kirk said.
Quarterback Kyler Murray said he was envisioning it as he got the play call and that wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins said in the huddle that the play was going to be a touchdown, one the Cardinals could use for a bit of oomph already up 14-0 with under five minutes left in the first half.
“The play” was one the Cardinals had seen all week on film and prepared for. Arizona had a good idea the Cowboys’ defensive backs were going to bite on out routes, and so all Kirk had to do was execute a double move in the right amount of single coverage and he was going to be gonzo.
“Once I motioned in, we saw we got the look and it was just on me to beat my guy,” Kirk said.
He beat him alright, and then Kirk made two unbelievable plays. The first one was catching the throw by Murray that was a bit away from his body, and then the second was managing to stay on his feet after fully extending to take it for that 80-yard score everyone foresaw.
“Yeah, we talked about it he said that’s the ‘late hands trick,’” head coach Kliff Kingsbury said of the catch. “He was able to stay on his feet. If you have early hands, your body goes with you, you usually dive for the ball. He went late hands, was able to gather it, catch the back end of it, and the rest of the way.”
“It was just kind of one of those where your heart starts beating a little fast but you’ve just gotta be in the moment and be calm and be cool,” Kirk said of knowing he had a pretty good chance at a touchdown before the ball was snapped.
You can see below how Isabella’s go route and DeAndre Hopkins’ on the other side of the field opened up that extra space for Kirk.
Kingsbury joked with Kirk leading up to the game that the wideout would always have huge games for his alma mater Texas A&M when it played Arkansas, a game played at AT&T Stadium in Dallas. Kingsbury thought it would be a big game for Kirk in his return, and the coach was correct.
On top of that 80-yard touchdown, Kirk caught another score for six yards on a shovel pass from Murray. It was efficient two touchdowns on three targets for Kirk.
Most importantly, that 80-yard bomb broke the game open. Arizona was in control, sure, but that was the emphatic play that really allowed the Cardinals to cruise to a victory.
“That’s one of the things I’ve always preached about this offense is that we’re predicated on these deep shots, these explosive plays, and that was definitely a play we needed to spark us and put us over the top,” Kirk said.