Three Things: The Successes and Slip-Ups from the Cardinals Walk-Off Win

The Cardinals found a way to knock off the undefeated Seattle Seahawks on Sunday night despite trailing by double digits. What went right and wrong.
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The Seattle Seahawks were 30-0 when leading at halftime by double digits since 2012. They were the last undefeated team in the NFC at 5-0. They had not lost in the Valley since 2012.

With a 48-yard kick off the foot of Zane Gonzalez in overtime, the Cardinals snapped all of those streaks.

A 37-34 walk-off win propelled the Cardinals to second place for the time being (the 4-2 Rams play Chicago Monday night) in the NFC West at 5-2, and on the national stage of Sunday Night Football, they showed the country how they match up with one of the premier teams in the NFL.

Arizona was down 27-17 at halftime and 34-24 in the fourth quarter, but stepped up on both sides of the ball to pull out the upset.

"That's the best type of win that can happen, going back and forth in overtime," Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray said.

Naturally, in a game that went as Sunday night’s did, there were a lot of positives and negatives for Arizona, but also plenty of jaw-dropping moments. Let’s add a section for one of those too.

What went well

Final drive of regulation

Three-point game. Fifty-two seconds remaining. The Cardinals defense came up with a game-saving third-and-2 stop that gave the offense a fighting chance. With no timeouts, Arizona needed to be close to perfect to drive from their own 20-yard line into field-goal range in under a minute.

They not only accomplished this, but did so creatively. 

First play, Murray hit wideout Larry Fitzgerald over the middle four 11 yards. Spike. Then, with the Seahawks dropped back to defend the pass, Murray took off up the middle for 15 yards. Spike. Murray then found receiver Christian Kirk along the sideline for 16 yards, getting into Seattle territory. 

After Kirk got out of bounds, the Cardinals ran the ball off left tackle with Chase Edmonds, who gained 12 yards and got up to the Seahawks 26. 

Fitzgerald snatched the ball and placed it where the Cardinals needed to set up, and Murray spiked it with two seconds left. 

Murray was composed. The offense as a whole was. Kingsbury ran plays that the Seahawks didn’t think were in the cards, and the perfect drive kept the game alive for overtime.

"Everybody knows we're going to be in the playoff hunt and this is one of those types of games where you really find out how real we are," Edmonds said. 

Kyler Murray

Handing off the ball to Kenyan Drake was not working, so Murray’s arm had to do the brunt of the work. 

Unlike last week, Murray was on target for most of Sunday night, completing 34 of 48 passes for 360 yards and three touchdowns. When the team stumbled out of the gate, down 10-0, he found receiver DeAndre Hopkins streaking down the sideline, an opportunity that made him smile, for a 35-yard score to get them back in it. 

After trailing 20-7, he went 5-for-5 on a drive that ended with finding Kirk in the end zone. 

The Seahawks made it 27-14, so Murray led a drive in which he completed four of five passes at the end of the first half to set up a field goal. 

"I thought he was phenomenal," Cardinals head coach Kliff Kingsbury said. "Super competitive. He had that look in his eyes the whole game."

Whenever the game felt like it was slipping away, he commanded his team and got them back in striking distance. 

"For me personally, my mindset was just move the ball, do what I do to move the ball, be myself and lead the guys down the field," Murray said. "Make smart decisions, take care of the ball and like I said, be myself. Whatever I see, go with it, trust it and do it with conviction."

Also, he scored his seventh rushing touchdown in as many games.

Second half/overtime defense

After looking overpowered in the first half, the defense made its adjustments. For the rest of the game, second half and overtime, Arizona allowed seven points and came away with two interceptions.

"To hold that offense to seven points is pretty incredible," Kingsbury said.

The third-down stop at the end of regulation was paramount. 

However, Seattle won the coin toss in overtime, giving them the first crack at winning the game. On third down near midfield, on a disguised rush, cornerback Byron Murphy Jr. sacked quarterback Russell Wilson to give Arizona the ball back. 

After Gonzalez missed the game-winning field goal, Seattle got a golden chance to put the game away. On third-and-long, Wilson floated a pass over the middle of the field where rookie linebacker Isaiah Simmons made the biggest play of his young career by intercepting it and returning it to the Seattle 49.

"It's about takeaways, because (the Seahawks are) going to get their yards and they made them (takeaways) at crucial points," Kingsbury said. "When the game was on the line, (the defense) showed up the biggest so that that'll definitely build confidence moving forward. There's a lot to clean up in all three phases, but everybody pulled together in overtime and found a way."

What went poorly

Sequence before kick

The “debacle” as Kingsbury put it. 

After getting the ball for the first time in overtime, Arizona drove to the Seattle 18. That would certainly set up a chip shot for Gonzalez. At least that was the plan.

However, when trying to center the ball on first down, a block was missed and Murray got hammered, losing five yards in the process. That set up Gonzalez for a 41-yard try, but the offense didn’t get set and Kingsbury had to call a timeout, essentially icing his own kicker. 

"It was pretty bad, pretty much a complete debacle," Kingsbury said. "I got conservative and went for the field goal. Then we did not execute our center-lead play, got our quarterback blown up. And then we were about to get a delay of game and had to take a timeout, kind of freeze our own kicker. So it was about as bad of a coaching job as possible by me."

Gonzalez subsequently missed, leaving ample time, 2:42, for Seattle to drive with two timeouts. 

First-half defense

The Seahawks moved the ball at will in the first half. 

They had 377 yards, over 100 more than the Cardinals had in their entire Week 4 loss at Carolina. That was the only game in which the Cardinals allowed more than 26 points, until the Seahawks put up 27 in the first half Sunday. 

Safety Budda Baker intercepted a pass at the goal line in the second quarter that may have saved the Cardinals from digging a deeper hole.

Receiver Tyler Lockett was an especially tough cover, making eight catches with two touchdowns before halftime. He finished the game with 15 receptions for 200 yards, but had just 67 yards on seven catches after halftime.

Not capitalizing

Back to the Baker interception; he looked like he had a touchdown in his grasp. 

When Baker cut off the pass, there was nobody in front of him. He ran for 90 yards, but Seahawks receiver DK Metcalf was racing like a “stallion” and caught up with Baker on the Seattle 8-yard line. Metcalf reached 22.6 miles per hour, according to Next Gen Stats. That play saved a touchdown because the Cardinals failed to score on their next possession. 

After gaining five yards on three plays, Arizona turned the ball over on downs after Murray threw an incompletion on fourth down.

"I'm just mad at myself, the offense for not capitalizing on his play," Murray said.

Jaw dropped

Isaiah Simmons 

Simmons did not play many defensive snaps on Sunday night. Jordan Hicks and De’Vondre Campbell started at inside per usual, and the backup who made the most noise was Tanner Vallejo, who had a key quarterback hit and three tackles. Simmons had one tackle all game, and it was on special teams. 

The former eighth overall pick played just 61 defensive snaps over the previous five games. 

However, the Cardinals put Simmons on the field for a crucial third down, and he read the play perfectly to come away with an interception. 

 "It was clutch," Baker said. "We had a nice pressure, wasn't really a pressure, it was kind of a smoke pressure. Isaiah was showing like he was blitzing, and then got out. Russell didn't see him and Isaiah used his length and got an interception."

Perhaps this was the confidence boost needed for Arizona to put him in more often.