JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) — Byron Murphy caught a glimpse of J.J. Watt bearing down on Trevor Lawrence and figured the pass would be underthrown.
Murphy pounced, stepping in front of Jacob Hollister and turning a trick play into a Pick-Six.
Murphy intercepted two passes, including one he returned for a touchdown following a botched flea flicker, and the Arizona Cardinals rallied to beat the skidding Jacksonville Jaguars 31-19 on Sunday.
“The ball was in the air for a little bit so it gave me time to get there,” said Murphy, a 2019 second-round draft pick who got beat on a flea flicker in Week 1 at Tennessee.
The Cardinals improved to 3-0 for the first time since 2015. The Jaguars (0-3) lost their 18th straight game, leaving them eight shy of the NFL record for futility.
This one unraveled late.
Jacksonville led 19-10 after James Robinson’s 4-yard touchdown run in the third quarter. Coach Urban Meyer got the spark he had been looking for when Jamal Agnew returned a missed field goal a record-tying 109 yards for a score on the final play of the first half.
The Jags had all the momentum and looked like they might end a losing streak that dates to last season’s opener. But it was all Arizona after Robinson’s first score of the season.
“There was no panic,” Cardinals coach Kliff Kingsbury said. “That’s about as big a moment of adversity as you can face in an NFL football game to have something like that happen right before the half. Guys didn’t blink. Even when we went down two scores, guys didn’t blink. I was really proud of that effort.”
James Conner capped two long drives with short TD runs, and Murphy delivered the game-changing turnover in between when he picked off Lawrence’s pass and went untouched the other way for 29 yards. The play was an epic failure for Jacksonville.
First, it was an unnecessary flea flicker from Jacksonville’s side of the field while leading. Second, left guard Andrew Norwell seemed to miss the play call and was caught spinning to try to get to Watt. He whiffed on Watt, who pressured Lawrence into throwing early and off-balance.
“It’s gonna be a hard one to get out of my mind,” said Meyer, who added he wants to be creative and aggressive. “It’s my job to say, ‘If it’s not there, don’t do that.'”
DJ Chark was open down the middle, but Lawrence had no time to throw deep. He checked to the sideline, which made for easy pickings for Murphy.
Murphy intercepted another pass from Lawrence in the first half. Hollister bobbled that one, which landed in Murphy’s outstretched arms.
Kyler Murray completed 28 of 34 passes for 316 yards for Arizona, with an interception. He also ran for a touchdown in the first quarter and turned in another meditation pose afterward.
A.J. Green led the Cards with 112 yards receiving — his first 100-yard receiving day since 2018 — and Christian Kirk added 104.
Lawrence was 22 of 34 for 219 yards, with a touchdown and the two INTs. He had a perfect TD throw to Chark in the back corner of the end zone, his best play of the day.
He also fumbled twice late, once when Robinson knocked the ball out of his hands while trying to block and again on the final play of the game.
The No. 1 overall pick in the NFL draft has nine turnovers in three games and is on pace to throw 40 interceptions this season. Hall of Famer Peyton Manning holds the rookie record with 28 set in 1998.
“I don’t have any doubt about this team,” Lawrence said. “Nothing has changed for me. It’s not going back to the drawing board. It’s not any of that. It’s just about going back to work, and we’re going to win some of these games, so nothing has changed.”
MORE MISSES FOR LAMBO
Josh Lambo missed two extra points Sunday, giving him five errant kicks in three weeks. He missed two field goals in a 23-13 loss to Denver last Sunday, one from 48 and the other from 52 yards out. Meyer wrote those off as fluky, saying he was unconcerned because of Lambo’s work ethic.
Now, though, Meyer might have to make a move to bring in competition.
Arizona lost two offensive linemen when starter Justin Pugh and backup Justin Murray left with back injuries. … Jaguars LT Cam Robinson left the game in the fourth quarter with a right shoulder injury but later returned. … Cardinals backup CB Charles Washington injured a hamstring in the first half and was ruled out for the game. … Norwell left briefly in the first half to get his right ankle taped and returned a short time later.
Arizona hosts the Los Angeles Rams next Sunday. The Cardinals have lost eight straight in the series and given up at least 30 points in seven of those.
Jacksonville has a short week before playing at Cincinnati on Thursday night.
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