We won’t bore you by rehashing all the particulars. The Seahawks’ first loss of the season happened just 23 days ago in Arizona, in overtime, in a game in which the Seahawks held a 10-point fourth-quarter lead. Maybe you tried really hard to forget that, and maybe this is triggering you in the most 2020 way, and for that maybe we should offer a formal apology.
But if you did manage to “Men in Black” flash that game out of your memory, we’re here to offer a refresher on the Arizona Cardinals, what they’ve done in the three weeks since and what could be in store when they come to Seattle for Thursday night’s showdown against the Seahawks. Here are this week’s Three Things:
All Hail Murray
Kyler Murray’s Hail Mary completion to DeAndre Hopkins on Sunday was as exciting a finish as there’s ever been to a regular-season NFL game.
Three Buffalo defenders surrounded Hopkins in the end zone as the pass from Murray floated toward them, four sets of hands reaching up for the ball at the same time.
“It’s funny, everybody, all they saw was black gloves rising from everybody. It was a group of four people and all we saw was black gloves,” Murray told reporters afterward.
Hopkins came down with the 43-yard touchdown, giving Arizona the stunning 32-30 victory and forging a three-way tie atop the NFC West with the Seahawks and Rams at 6-3.
“We always believe in our offense,” Arizona safety Budda Baker told reporters, “but how they get that touchdown? Nine times out of 10, the offense is not going to get that touchdown.”
Hopkins’ catch was remarkable, of course. But Murray’s ability to escape pressure and make the throw should not be discounted.
“Just getting the pass off was incredible,” Arizona coach Kliff Kingsbury said, via the Arizona Republic. “If you watch the replay, I mean he’s running and dodging and ducking and I didn’t think he’d get it off. And then to put that type of loft on it and give him a chance, from my vantage point I couldn’t see much, but I saw the crowd go crazy and just kept asking our guys, ‘Did he catch it?’ And they were going nuts up top (in the press box).”
Murray has vaulted into the thick of the MVP discussion. He has thrown for 2,375 yards, completing 68.2% of his passes with 17 TDs and eight interceptions.
Beyond the passing numbers, it’s not a stretch to say Murray is already in the discussion as the best running QB in NFL history. He had two rushing touchdowns Sunday, giving him 10 rushing TDs in nine games this season, and he’s the first QB since 1956 to have a rushing TD in five consecutive games.
With 604 yards rushing — and 6.9 yards per carry — Murray is threatening Lamar Jackson’s season rushing record for a QB (1,206 yards from last year).
Best trade in NFL history?
All right, best ever is an overstatement. But, man, everyone knew way back in March that Arizona’s trade for Hopkins was a lopsided win for the Cardinals.
In November, it’s laughable.
The Houston Texans, who have since fired the coach-slash-GM — Bill O’Brien — who made the trade, were absolutely, unquestionably bamboozled in the deal. They received only a 2020 second-round pick and a 2021 fourth-round pick; sweetening the deal further for Arizona was sending running back David Johnson and his bloated contract to Houston, too.
Hopkins is a three-time All-Pro receiver in his prime, and he’s probably the best receiver in the NFL right now.
He called his Hail Mary catch Sunday night the best play of his career.
“In basketball terminology, they call it somebody getting dunked on. But it was on three people,” Hopkins told reporters.
“They were in position,” he added. “It was just a better catch by I.”
Race to the top
The NFC West has been billed all season as the toughest division in the NFL, and there’s no denying it’s the most crowded.
The Cardinals are 6-3.
The Rams are 6-3.
The Seahawks are 6-3.
And because Arizona won their first meeting, Thursday’s rematch is as close to a must-win for the Seahawks as it can get for a Week 11 game. Lose this week and the Seahawks lose the head-to-head tiebreaker to the Cardinals — meaning they’d effectively be two games back in the standings.
FiveThirtyEight.com gives the Seahawks a 37% chance to win the division, the Cardinals a 32% chance and the Rams a 30% chance.
Arizona and the Rams still have to play each other twice, and the Cardinals have to travel to New England in Week 12.
The Rams still have to play Tampa Bay and New England as their toughest out-of-division opponents.
After this week, the Seahawks have one of the league’s easiest remaining schedules, with games against the Eagles, Giants, Jets and the Washington, D.C., football team.
The West, indeed, is up for grabs.