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Cardinals QB Kyler Murray: Patriots, not injury, hampered rushing attack

Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray (1) hands off to Arizona Cardinals running back Kenyan Drake (41) during a game between the New England Patriots and the Arizona Cardinals on November 29, 2020, at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Massachusetts. (Photo by Fred Kfoury III/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Kyler Murray and his coach, Kliff Kingsbury, shot down the educated assumption that the Arizona Cardinals did not attack the New England Patriots on Sunday with quarterback draws and read-option keeps because Murray had suffered a shoulder injury the week prior.

Instead, they said the Patriots’ scheme forced the ball out of Murray’s hand in a 20-17 loss at Gillette Stadium that spotlighted the dynamic of the quarterback’s rushing abilities, if only because they were hardly present.

“I didn’t adjust anything,” Murray said of whether he was playing more cautiously having suffered an AC joint injury 10 days ago against the Seattle Seahawks. “If they play me, I have to hand the ball off.

“I wasn’t going to play if I couldn’t be myself.”

Murray ran five times for 31 yards — four of those and 33 yards came in the second half.

So a pocket passer Murray became for the second week in a row. He completed 23 of 34 passes (68%) for 170 yards, an interception and no touchdowns through the air or the ground.

Like it was against the Seahawks in Week 11’s 28-21 loss, Murray found it difficult to bury the Patriots with his legs.

“They definitely were keyed in on him running it,” Kingsbury said of his quarterback. “Thought he made good decisions when to run it and was efficient in that.”

Kingsbury added that Murray’s health was not a factor in the play-calling or the results.

“No, I don’t think so. I think he was feeling pretty good and he really played an efficient game,” the head coach said. “Took what was there, checked it down, ran when he needed to run, gave us a chance to win in the end.”

While the ground game averaged 4.1 yards per carry and had 138 yards, that didn’t do enough to open up the deep passing game.

No completion went for more than 19 yards, and that came early on with a pitch-and-run by speedy Andy Isabella.

Murray shrugged off the notion that his health had anything to do with his quiet day as a running threat.

“In those zone-read opportunities, they were just playing me, making me handing it off,” the quarterback said.

And Murray added that he didn’t think that ultimately mattered.

“I don’t think I have to run for us to be successful,” he said. “I’m very confident in our running backs. It is what it is. They choose to take me out of it, I hand the ball off. I can’t control the ball after that.”

Phillips Law Group

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