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Cardinals Film Room: David Johnson Swings Free

Analyzing the memorable 45-yard run by the second-year running back

The Cardinals were playing catch-up for most of Sunday's 23-21 loss to the Patriots, but grabbed the lead briefly in the fourth quarter. It came on a seven-play, 79-yard touchdown drive headlined by a spectacular 45-yard run from David Johnson. While the Cardinals running back is only one game into his second season, he has made a habit of turning normal carries into highlight reel plays. Johnson finished the game with 89 rushing yards, 43 receiving yards and a touchdown. Johnson, quarterback Carson Palmer, tight end Jermaine Gresham and center A.Q. Shipley broke down the big gain in the return of the weekly Cardinals Film Room series.

The situation: The Cardinals had a first-and-10 from their 43 with 11:08 left in the game, trailing 20-14.

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Gresham prepares to block for a run-of-the-mill carry: "It was one of our staple plays that we do. Pretty much a gap-scheme run play."

Johnson knows he will be running behind right guard Earl Watford and right tackle D.J. Humphries: "Pretty basic downhill running off to the right side. Follow the double team and see what holes are open."

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An aggressive Patriots defensive lineman fires into the backfield as Gresham sets up to block: "That was (Jabaal Sheard). He kind of tried to shoot the gap. I was just trying to push and run him by the hole. David stuck his foot in the ground and made a hell of a cut. "

Johnson is forced to improvise immediately: "As soon as I got the ball, I saw (Sheard) come in and I had to make a jump cut to the outside. Then I saw the corner (Logan Ryan) come down really fast, so I tried to cut it back inside. Basically, that's when the instincts took over."

Shipley has a good view of the play unfolding: "I'm sealing (defensive tackle Vincent Valentine), so I'm right there. I'm watching the whole thing."

The jump cut is natural for Johnson: "When you play running back, especially with the speed of the game, instincts take over a lot. Guys are closing in on you quick, so me having to jump cut is when I see a guy coming at me, I see the way my guy is blocking for me and I need to get to that hole -- that type of thing. I need to get to the inside or the outside, and a jump cut is very effective."

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As the Patriots swarm, Johnson thinks the run is over for a short gain: "(Valentine) had his arms around me, a big guy, and there were, what, three other guys getting ready to get on the pile-up? I was basically just trying to fall down forward.  Luckily, I think the defensive lineman tried to swing me. As a big guy, his momentum is probably carrying him to the right. It forces him to swing me, and I think that's what effectively ended up helping me out."

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Johnson wriggles free and uses his hand to stay upright: "I tried to just keep my balance and then look up field to see where else I could go. I tried to look up and see where my green grass was, and luckily there was a lot of green grass on the right."

Palmer has seen this type of run before: "It reminded me of his run in Philadelphia. It was probably a similar yardage run, 50-something yards, 40-something yards. A lot of guys around him, a lot of guys trying to wrap him up and nobody wrapped him up."

Shipley becomes a spectator with a great view: "I tripped up right there, so I looked up and at that point he's running down the sideline. Incredible run."

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Johnson stiff-arms safeties Devin McCourty and Duron Harmon to extend the run, a weapon he's used often in the NFL: "My arms are a little longer so that helps out a lot, and stiff-arms are just natural instinct as a running back. It's very effective against the smaller DBs."

Gresham watches in amazement: "By the time I looked back at him, he was coming out of two tackles. That's when I saw the two stiff-arms. He's very unique. He's a rare talent in the pass and run game both. He's special."

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Johnson turns the corner and thinks he will beat Sheard to the end zone: "I did not see (McCourty). I actually thought he got tripped up by the guy (Harmon) who was trying to tackle me. All I saw was (Sheard) and I was just trying to out-run him. I didn't even see that corner, and luckily, I'm glad he didn't punch the ball out, because after watching film he definitely did go for the ball."

Shipley knows the Cardinals have a game-changer in the backfield, evidenced again by the run: "We saw it last year. Chicago was kind of his breakout game. He got three touchdowns – one receiving, one running and one return. So (the coaching staff) knew that, and they just started sprinkling him in more and more. He's a special player. There's no question about it. We're fortunate to have him back there."

Images of the Cardinals cheerleaders during "Sunday Night Football"

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