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Byron Murphy Picks Good Time To Spark Cardinals

Cornerback's interception for a touchdown changes tide in 31-19 win

Cornerback Byron Murphy returns an interception for a touchdown against the Jaguars Sunday in Jacksonville.
Cornerback Byron Murphy returns an interception for a touchdown against the Jaguars Sunday in Jacksonville.

The Cardinals had reeled a bit Sunday after the Jaguars got their crazy 109-yard missed field goal return right before halftime.

Byron Murphy Jr. wanted to find a way to fix that if he could.

The cornerback had an interception to save at least a field goal in the first half Sunday against the Jaguars. Then came the Jags' attempt at trickery, a flea-flicker with 35 seconds left in the third quarter, clinging to a two-point lead. Quarterback Trevor Lawrence took a pitch back from running back Carlos Hyde, attempting to get a pass downfield. But J.J. Watt was in his face, and Murphy was waiting in the secondary.

Murphy jumped in front of tight end Jacob Hollister and intercepted the pass for a 29-yard touchdown return. The game-changing play helped turn a 19-17 deficit into a 31-19 victory.

"That was huge," Kingsbury said. 'You could feel the momentum change on that play, and I think everyone felt like we had the game in control after that moment."

Murphy's memory was fresh. In the moment of watching Hyde pitch the ball back, the third-year starter recalled the flea0flicker that burned him for 39 yards in Tennessee.

"I knew a shot was gonna come," Murphy said. "So, I was like, I can't give up another one. I saw the ball in the running back's hand, he pitched it back and I just turned my head and ran.

"The ball was in the air for a bit, too, so it gave me time to get there and make a play. Thank God, I got the pick. Had to make up for the last one I gave up."

Murphy only had one NFL interception prior to Sunday -- a pick of Tampa Bay's Jameis Winston as a rookie in 2019. His first pick came when Hollister was juggling a ball just as he was hit by linebacker Jordan Hicks, popping the ball into the air and into Murphy's hands.

Murphy is the first Cardinal with two interceptions since Antoine Bethea against. the Giants in 2017.

What's more impressive is Murphy responding with such a performance after being questionable to play Sunday with an injured ankle, showcasing why he's one of the best young defensive backs in the NFL.

"That's always my goal," Murphy said, "to make a play for the defense."

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