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Murphy Comes up Big (Twice) When Cards Need it Most

Arizona Cardinals cornerback Byron Murphy Jr. had two interceptions at pivotal moments in Sunday's win over Jacksonville.

Arizona Cardinals defensive back Byron Murphy Jr. isn't a household name in the NFL, nor is he even the most talked about player in his own secondary. 

Yet, when the Cardinals needed plays to be made, Murphy made his presence felt on multiple occasions during a 31-19 win over the Jacksonville Jaguars Sunday. 

The first came when Arizona was leading 7-0 in the early stages of the game. Quarterback Trevor Lawrence was putting together a good drive at the beginning of the second quarter, until a tipped pass fell into the hands of Murphy to keep Jacksonville scoreless. 

The play marked Murphy's second career interception, yet it was his third that ultimately made the difference for the Cardinals to improve to 3-0 for the first time since 2015. 

Despite a touchdown by Arizona on the previous drive, the Cardinals trailed Jacksonville by two points towards the end of the third quarter. With momentum on the Jaguars' side, Murphy found a misguided ball by Lawrence and scored on a 29-yard return to regain the lead for Arizona. 

The Cardinals never looked back, not allowing the Jaguars to score a single point the rest of the way and effectively putting their stamp on the game. 

Murphy explained what was going through his head during that play:

"It was a another flea-flicker so I was like, 'I can't give up another one.' So when I saw the running back had the ball I was coming up (in run support) and then once he threw it back to the quarterback, I just said, 'Sprint, turn around and sprint!' and then I saw a guy kind of wheel it to the sideline," said Murphy following the game.

"I just went straight to him and the ball's in the air for a little bit, so it gave me time to get there and I made the play."

Murphy's multi-interception effort was the first by a Cardinals defensive back since Antoine Bethea did it in 2017. Murphy also added four total tackles in the winning effort. 

"My biggest thing is getting the defensive call and making sure I see my read," said Murphy in a postgame interview with Fox. "(Seeing) what type of formation they're in, get the (defensive) call, play my role in that call and (I know) the ball will come. The ball came, I just had to make a play and I told myself I had to make up for the last two games." 

Much chatter has surrounded Arizona's secondary heading into the 2021 season, and without the presence of Malcolm Butler, the Cardinals were searching for any of their talented cornerbacks to step up and make their presence felt. 

"That's always my goal to make a play for the defense," said Murphy. "I'm trying to go out there and dance and have fun. So once I was able to go out there and make a play, I kind of felt the guys' energy keep coming so I was just thankful I was able to do that."

Murphy did precisely that on Sunday, and the Cardinals hope this is just a springboard that could propel Murphy into the ballhawk he was drafted to be.