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Rapid Reactions: DeAndre Hopkins, Hail Murray give Cardinals unreal win

Wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins #10 of the Arizona Cardinals catches the game-winning touchdown pass as safety Jordan Poyer #21 and safety Micah Hyde #23 of the Buffalo Bills defend during the final seconds of the fourth quarter at State Farm Stadium on November 15, 2020 in Glendale, Arizona. (Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images)

DeAndre Hopkins. That’s the story. Thank you for visiting ArizonaSports.com.

Just kidding! Well, sort of.

Hopkins made one of the all-time great plays in Arizona Cardinals history, reeling in a 43-yard Hail Mary touchdown catch with two seconds remaining to beat the Buffalo Bills 32-30.

There was a ton more to cover from this game. Luckily, we’ve got some friends to help with that!

Here are Arizona Sports’ hosts and editors on the win.

Vince Marotta, co-host of Bickley & Marotta

Special players make special plays.

After Stefon Diggs snared a Josh Allen laser with a beautiful catch to give the Bills a 30-26 lead with 34 seconds left, Kyler Murray and DeAndre Hopkins one-upped their visitors.

Murray rolled to his left, avoided a tackler and heaved an across-his-body Hail Mary that traveled about 52 yards in the air and Hopkins went up among three Buffalo defenders and pulled down the ball for one of the most improbable plays and wins in franchise history.

And with Seattle losing to the LA Rams, the Cardinals are again tied for first place in the NFC West just five days ahead of a visit to the Pacific Northwest.

But let’s face facts, Murray and Hopkins’ heroics might make some forget about head coach Kliff Kingsbury’s baffling play-calling late in the game. After Dre Kirkpatrick picked off Allen with 4:31 left, the Cardinal led 26-23. They had racked up 217 yards on the ground at 6.2 yards per pop, yet Kingsbury called passing plays on first and second down. Both passes were incomplete and the Cardinals took 56 seconds off the clock and punted the ball back to the Bills with 3:35 to go — ample time for Allen to bury Arizona.

It’s the third straight week Kingsbury’s late-game decisions have raised eyebrows, yet the Cardinals are 2-1 in those games.

Special players make special plays.

John Gambadoro, co-host of Burns & Gambo

OK, I just erased the three paragraphs I had written about what a devastating loss this was. How Kliff Kingsbury’s play calling doomed the Cardinals. How all the good from Patrick Peterson’s interception went for naught when he got beat by Stefon Diggs with 34 seconds left for the go-ahead score. How a fluke play on a pass to Larry Fitzgerald led to an interception. How Cole Beasley was having Byron Murphy’s lunch on all those clutch plays late.

Yeah, scratch all of that. What a win. What a play.

The 43-yard desperation running out of bounds Hail Murray to Hopkins over three defenders that had the Bills go from the Thrill of Victory to the Agony of Defeat in a nanosecond will go down as one of the single greatest plays in Cardinals history. How can it not? Practice it a hundred times. Probably don’t make any of them. It was that level of difficulty that made it so special. Hopkins, I mean, what can you say.

He is just a sensational player. He had seven catches for 127 yards. Explain to me again why Houston traded him? I will never understand that. I can live to 100 (probably not) and I will still be wondering what the hell the Texans were thinking. This was such a huge win. Tied atop the NFC West with Seattle and the Rams at 6-3. Chances of making the playoffs now go through the roof.

There will be no three-game losing streak in the middle of the season (Miami, Buffalo, Seattle). I thought the defense played well for the most part. I wouldn’t have pinned the loss on them had they lost despite the final Buffalo drive that saw them go 78 yards for a touchdown. The Cards did force two turnovers from their secondary.

This was a gut-check win. Forget for a second how they won. Arizona beat Buffalo, a legitimate contender in the AFC, and now the Cardinals are in first place. Goodnight everybody!

Dave Burns, co-host of Burns & Gambo

It’s been nearly an hour since Kyler Murray rolled to his left, evaded a would-be tackler, didn’t set his feet at all and just threw the ball as hard as he could. He had no business throwing it to DeAndre Hopkins. He wasn’t open. But there wasn’t anything else to be done in that moment so he did it anyway.

It’s been nearly an hour since Hopkins — who was draped in Bills defenders like they were a fancy hotel bathrobe — somehow out-elevated all three and used his inhuman claws to clutch a pass he had no business clutching.

It’s been an hour and I’m still watching the replay, marveling at little details I hadn’t noticed the time before.

It’s been an hour and it just occurred to me to look at the standings. Oh hey, look at that. First place. To check the scoreboard. Oh hey, look at that Seattle lost today.

It’s been a little over an hour since I thought for sure Kliff Kingsbury lost this game for the Cardinals with his oddly aggressive play calling. Three straight pass plays while trying to nurse a three-point lead was intolerable in the moment and inexcusable when the Bills took the lead on a remarkable catch and throw from Josh Allen to Stefon Diggs.

And it was a little over an hour ago I was contemplating just how bad of a Monday Patrick Peterson was going to have for getting beat on that touchdown. Those things still matter. But they’ll fade in time.

Because it’s been a little over an hour since one of the most unbelievable Cardinals moments I’ve seen in a long time and I’m not quite sure when it’s going to sink in.

Jordan Byrd, host of Arizona Sports Saturday and producer of Burns & Gambo

Wow! What a game and what a catch! DeAndre Hopkins’ Hail Mary touchdown grab not only redeemed a lot of his teammates and coaches but also turned the Cardinals into a first-place team.

The play itself was amazing and will go down in Cardinals history as one of the greatest of all time. Every time I watch the replay I am blown away by how it actually came to fruition. Kyler Murray had to first scramble out of pressure, break a tackle and then uncork a perfect ball while his momentum was carrying him to the side line. Buffalo had the play defended perfectly but Hopkins was able to out jump and high point the ball with three Bills players surrounding him. The fact that he was able to hold on to it and not have a defender jar the ball loose is maybe the most impressive part of the whole sequence.

That play also got many of the Cards players and coaches off the hook. Kliff Kingsbury decided to pass the ball on three straight plays after the Josh Allen fourth-quarter interception. Two incompletions and a Kyler sack took less than a minute of the clock when the Cards should have been milking it for all its worth. This was following Arizona’s previous drive where Kyler took a loss on a 3rd-and-1 play that forced the Cardinals to punt from their own 5-yard line. The Cardinals running game was having success and the decision to not just give it to Kenyan Drake in the short-yardage situation was head scratching. Those two drives in the fourth quarter were almost the undoing of the Cards in this game.

Speaking of Drake, he too was redeemed by the Hopkins touchdown. Although he ran very well in his return to the Cardinals lineup, Drake had the fumble and also a miscommunication that went for a sizable loss of yards. Add in a false start penalty and it certainly wasn’t the smoothest performance by the back, but his presence was definitely felt.

The Arizona defense played fantastic in the second half and it felt like the type of scheming we saw from Vance Joseph in the second half of the Seattle game. The Cards defense made the necessary adjustments and although they did give up a late touchdown. Their play up to that point certainly helped Arizona stay within striking distance.

And that’s where we come to the last individual who was redeemed by the Hopkins touchdown. Patrick Peterson was the defending cornerback on both of Buffalo’s second-half touchdowns. First, Cole Beasley juked Peterson out of his cleats and freed himself up for an easy score and then it was Stefon Diggs just straight-up blowing past Peterson for what looked to be the game-winner. I fully understand that Buffalo’s receiving group is one of the best in the NFL, but it is abundantly clear that Peterson can no longer go mano-a-mano with the upper echelon of wide receivers.

There is still a ton of things for the Cardinals to clean up. They still have come nowhere close to playing a full game at their peak performance. Now a short week and a trip to Seattle is on the horizon and snatching a victory out of the jaws of defeat should be a tremendous confidence booster. But really we need to take a moment and soak this all in. The Cardinals are in first place in the NFC West, and we have the Hail Murray to thank for it.

Luke Lapinski, host of The Rundown with Luke Lapinski

You know it’s a classic when you don’t even really remember the exact final score, just who won and how. And this game certainly qualifies. Back and forth all afternoon, culminating with Kyler Murray rolling left, heaving the ball into a sea of Buffalo Bills and DeAndre Hopkins rising up to make the most improbable of catches. Let’s all thank Bill O’Brien one more time.

They didn’t even need to pump in fake crowd noise on the broadcast — you could hear the entire Valley erupt on that one. And if this is what happens when Murray and Hopkins have the occasionally heated discussion on the sidelines, I vote that they keep doing it.

The Cardinals didn’t play a perfect game by any means, but they ran the ball well and anything’s possible when you have a quarterback-receiver duo like this. That’s a season-altering play. I said all week that the last quarterback to have the ball in his hands was going to win this game, but I never expected this. Arizona’s last drive started with just 34 seconds on the clock and, oh by the way, Buffalo’s really good. If the Cardinals don’t pull that off, they’re suddenly sitting at 5-4 on a gut-wrenching two-game losing streak with the NFC West slipping away.

Instead, they’re in a three-way tie for first. And they have a shot to break that tie in just five days. In Seattle of all places. This is quickly becoming a memorable season.

Kellan Olson, editor and reporter for ArizonaSports.com

It’s truly impossible to appreciate a player’s greatness unless he’s 1) on national television a nauseating amount or 2) playing for your local team.

When DeAndre Hopkins arrived in Arizona, as a fan of him since his Clemson days, I kept reinforcing to friends and family just how good Hopkins was.

“No, you don’t understand. He’s not one of the best wide receivers in the NFL. He is the best.”

And even I’m shocked at how great he truly is after watching every snap on a week-to-week basis.

It’s time for us over here to start researching the all-time debut seasons in Arizona sports history, because this is on pace to take the throne.

By the way, Kyler Murray is a superstar. The newfound surge of momentum for this franchise is distracting just about everyone from how fun the next couple of years (and hopefully decade) should be.


Phillips Law Group

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