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Seahawks find traction stopping Kyler Murray-led Cardinals rushing attack

Arizona Cardinals running back Kenyan Drake (41) is upended as he rushes against the Seattle Seahawks during the first half of an NFL football game, Thursday, Nov. 19, 2020, in Seattle. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)

Wary about Kyler Murray’s banged up arm, cautious because of the opposing scheme or reacting to the Seattle Seahawks defense, the Arizona Cardinals offense didn’t look like its dynamic self on Thursday Night Football.

Yes, 10 penalties zapped momentum and ended drives.

But in a relatively grinding game against the Seattle Seahawks that ended with a 28-21 defeat, Arizona’s league-best rushing attack never got going. And the 18 times the Cardinals did run the ball — they threw it 42 times despite being within reach of Seattle all night — it didn’t look good.

“We have to do a better job of executing against a solid front. We had a little trouble earlier in the year against Detroit running that (similar defense),” said running back Kenyan Drake, who rushed 11 times for 29 yards and a touchdown.

“(The Seahawks) also did a decent job the last time we played them, but we were able to wear them down in the second half … We have to go back to the drawing board and expect to see that from other teams.”

The Cardinals entered the day averaging a league-best 168.9 rushing yards and 5.3 yards per carry with a co-lead of 15 touchdowns on the ground. Thursday, they only managed 57 rushing yards on 3.2 yards per tote.

Neither Murray nor the running backs could carve out much.

Murray rushed five times for 15 yards, and he said the game flow — not an arm injury that he downplayed — was the reason for his lack of carries.

“They definitely played (trying to stop) me in a certain situations,” the quarterback said. “Like I said, put up 21, had a chance to win the game at the end. Throughout the game, we started off slow and we kept shooting ourselves in the foot.”

Two plays stood out to show Seattle’s hyper-awareness in stopping Murray.

On 3rd-and-1 at midfield just before halftime, Murray had a read-option but pulled it and went around the left end. With at least four defenders in position, he lost two yards, Arizona punted and the Seahawks had 1:24 to go 78 yards for a field goal.

Then to wrap a 90-yard Cardinals touchdown drive in the second half, running back Chase Edmonds snuck out of the slot and receiver DeAndre Hopkins came out of the backfield on a crossing play at the Seattle 3-yard line.

All eyes were on Murray, and though there were no defenders on the right side of the field as Edmonds reeled in a wide open catch, it was a rushed throw for the quarterback with three defenders closing in.

It was one of the few times Thursday the Cardinals took advantage of the Seahawks’ attentiveness to the Arizona quarterback.

The season-low in rushing yards for Murray moved Arizona to 1-8-1 when he’s held under 30 yards and 0-5-1 when he’s ran for fewer than 20 since his NFL debut last year.

“Got to give Seattle credit,” Arizona head coach Kliff Kingsbury said. “They had a good plan to try to make him hand the ball off. That’s basically what it came down to.

“Very similar to the last time we played them,” Kingsbury added. “I think they obviously play hard, are a well-coached team … You got to give them credit. I thought they flew around and tackled us when we had the ball in space. As far as schematics, not a lot of change.”

Phillips Law Group

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