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Hail Murray Answered: DeAndre Hopkins Touchdown Leads Cardinals Over Bills

Improbable 43-yard bomb provides miracle 32-30 win

Wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins comes down with the Hail Mary game-winning touchdown catch Sunday in a 32-30 win over the Bills.
Wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins comes down with the Hail Mary game-winning touchdown catch Sunday in a 32-30 win over the Bills.

The north end zone at State Farm Stadium has seen a miracle before, albeit from the other side, when Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers lofted a Hail Mary touchdown in the waning seconds to force a 2015 playoff game into overtime – the one where Larry Fitzgerald later took over with big plays of his own.

But Sunday wasn't about a Hail Larry but a Hail Murray, and an unreal 43-yard touchdown, thrown by Kyler Murray and somehow caught by DeAndre Hopkins in the middle of three Buffalo Bills defenders with two seconds left.

"Disbelief," linebacker Jordan Hicks said after the surreal 32-30 Cardinals' win, one that boosted them into first place in the NFC West.

On a play designed for Murray to go left, the quarterback bought time weaving away from potential tacklers as he often does, and lofted a perfect pass down the sideline in front of the Cardinals' bench. Hopkins was surrounded. It didn't matter.

"It was on three people," Hopkins said with the kind of swag only the three-time All-Pro can have. "They were in position. It was just a better catch by I."

It was an incredible throw leading to an incredible catch between the Cardinals' dynamic duo, somehow turning a sure defeat into an emotional – and crucial – victory.

Murray said he had never thrown a Hail Mary touchdown. Hopkins said he had never caught one, calling it the best catch of his career. Coach Kliff Kingsbury, admitting he was at a loss for words, said he had never been a part of such a play either.

"Just to get the pass off was incredible," Kingsbury said. "If you watch the replay, he's running and dodging and ducking. I didn't think he could 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. I just kept asking our guys, 'Did he catch it?'

Said Murray, "I knew when it left my hand it had a chance."

The Bills were frustrated – "It shouldn't have come down to one play," quarterback Josh Allen said – but then again, the Cardinals felt strongly they were the ones to have that issue.

"I don't know how it would've felt if we would've lost that game," Murray said.

The Cardinals (6-3) ran all over the Bills (7-3) throughout the game. Kenyan Drake came back off his ankle injury, shaking off an early crucial fumble to run for 100 yards, the Run Raid supplemented by Murray (61 yards, two rushing touchdowns) and Chase Edmonds (56 yards).

The defense struggled with Allen in the first half and then made his life miserable most of the second, with Patrick Peterson and Dre Kirkpatrick making interceptions. That was even after defensive lineman Corey Peters, a captain and veteran leader, suffered what is feared to be a serious knee injury.

But the Cards aren't in the habit of making things easy in such situations, and when they had the ball near midfield with just over four minutes left and two incompletions and a sack stopped any hope from grinding out the clock on offense, the defense was up again – and this time, Allen got them.

"When we have the opportunity on defense to win the game, we've got to do it," Hicks said.

The 12-play, 73-yard drive ended when Allen threw a perfect 21-yard touchdown pass to Stefon Diggs with just 34 seconds left for a four-point lead, and at that point, what felt like a certain Buffalo victory.

Murray managed completions to Andy Isabella, Hopkins and Fitzgerald just to get the Cardinals in position for the Hail Mary in the first place.

Hopkins, who ended up with seven catches for 127 yards, had a conversation with Kingsbury during the week, after Hopkins only had three catches against the Dolphins.

"I went out of that game last week regretting we didn't get it to him in crunch time or tried to get it to him in crunch time more," Kingsbury acknowledged.

Nothing can be defined as crunch time more than the need for a miracle touchdown.

"Two plus two equals four," Hopkins said. "Go downfield, throw it up."

Murray said he never really saw the play. Cornerback Tre'Davious White and safety Micah Hyde sandwiched Hopkins as the ball came down, and then safety Jordan Poyer barreled in as the ball arrived.

Hopkins, with his giant hands, said he's confident if he can just get his hands on the ball he'll come down with it, but beating the triple-team was an incredible feat.

"It's funny, all I saw were black gloves arising from everybody," Murray said. "It was a group of four people, and all I saw were black gloves, so I'm just glad he caught the ball."

It did more that just capture an improbable win, more than just push the Cardinals into first place in the division (both the Seahawks and Rams are also 6-3, but the Cardinals currently hold the tiebreaker.) With a short week coming, so good feelings will make it easier to get back to work immediately, since the Cardinals must play in Seattle Thursday night.

That's a place, of course, where the Cardinals have had a lot of success the past few years. A place where they haven't even had a chance to play yet with Hopkins – who continues to be the gift that keeps on giving after arriving in trade this offseason.

"That dude is one of a kind," Hicks said. "Throw the ball up to Hop, let him go to work."