Kyler Murray’s terrific day undone by missed FG, Cardinals fall to Dolphins

Nov 8, 2020, 5:39 PM | Updated: 7:07 pm

Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray (1) runs for a touchdown as Miami Dolphins free safety E...

Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray (1) runs for a touchdown as Miami Dolphins free safety Eric Rowe (21) defends during the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Nov. 8, 2020, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

(AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

Kyler Murray fumbled on the Arizona Cardinals’ first possession of the game, a fumble the Miami Dolphins returned for a touchdown, and his performance Sunday still might have been the best of his career.

Despite that, with a 4th-and-1 on Miami’s 31 down 34-31 with 1:58 to go, Cardinals head coach Kliff Kingsbury elected to kick a field goal instead of going for the win.

Zane Gonzalez missed from 49 yards off that decision, and Arizona went on to lose by that score.

After Murray on that drive found Christian Kirk for 35 yards to put the Cardinals in field goal range with 3:30 to go, Kingsbury got conservative. He ran the ball with Chase Edmonds on back-to-back plays, getting six and three yards. This came on a day when Edmonds averaged 2.8 yards per carry.

The 3rd-and-1 call was a short rollout by Murray on a route only going to the first down marker, and Murray’s throw was incomplete.

The call to kick was then made by Kingsbury, Gonzalez missed and Miami killed off the clock for a win.

Murray was magnificent. The second-year quarterback has real gusto on his throws, connected on deep shots and comfortably handled funky blitz packages from Miami with his legs. He was able to do this against a Dolphins defense that entered Sunday ranked first in a handful of defensive categories, including points allowed per game and scoring drives against.

Murray finished 21-of-26 through the air for 283 yards and three touchdowns, and added 11 carries for a career-high 106 yards plus a touchdown on the ground.

“I thought he was really efficient,” Kingsbury said of Murray. “I had some bad play-calls that kept us out of the end zones. I think that was it, me screwing him up on those.”

He became the first player in NFL history to have both a passing and rushing touchdown in seven of his first eight games of the season.

Murray was noticeably frustrated in his postgame press conference. He is now the first quarterback to ever lose when throwing over 25 times with a passer rating better than 150, per Pro-Football-Reference.

It was an incredible response from Murray following that fumble. He led Arizona on 75- and 80-yard touchdown drives after the turnover and then a 56-yard possession for a field goal. After a punt closed out the first half for Arizona’s offense, the second half began for Murray with back-to-back touchdowns on drives that went 87 and 84 yards.

In the second quarter, it was a 56-yard strike to wideout Christian Kirk, a throw right on the money from Murray.

One of Murray’s few mistakes of the day was a ball slightly underthrown in the end zone to tight end Darrell Daniels in the first drive of the second half, but Daniels was able to snatch it away from Miami’s Byron Jones for a big boy touchdown.

The next touchdown drive was all about Murray’s legs, as he converted a crucial 4th-and-1 in style with a keeper for 28 yards.

Five plays later, it was Murray again on the ground, this time getting that touchdown from 12 yards out.

On the other end of the field, it was a close one because of an impressive performance by Miami rookie quarterback Tua Tagovailoa against a Cardinals secondary struggling with injuries.

Tagovailoa threw for 248 yards and two touchdowns of his own. Miami had touchdown drives of 75, 80 and 93 yards, along with two field goals.

That second field goal proved to be the difference, a similar call by Miami head coach Brian Flores on 4th-and-1 with under four minutes to go in a tie game.

Jason Sanders converted, Gonzalez did not and that was that.

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