Cardinals’ Top Plays Of 2018: Offense

The Cardinals’ offense was stuck in neutral for the majority of the year, but some memorable moments still emerged. Here is a look at the top five offensive plays of the season:

5. Christian Kirk Takes Screen Pass To The House

The situation: The Cardinals were tied with the Raiders, 7-7, late in the first quarter in Week 11. Both teams were struggling at the time and hoping for a victory to break out of that funk.

The play: Quarterback Josh Rosen saw an overload on the right side and checked to the screen pass. He threw a bullet to Kirk, who shed a tackler and darted up the field. The blockers set up a nice path and Kirk sprinted to the end zone for a 59-yard score.

The aftermath: The touchdown gave the Cardinals a 14-7 lead and further highlighted Kirk’s explosive ability. It was Rosen’s second of a career-high three touchdown passes on the day, but the Raiders rallied for a 23-21 win.

4. Rosen To Kirk Beats The 49ers

The situation: The Cardinals trailed by five points late in the fourth quarter of this Week 8 matchup when Rosen led a drive inside the San Francisco 10. With goal-to-go, his first pass fell incomplete and the second lost a yard. The Cardinals were down to their final two chances to reach the end zone with only 39 seconds left.

The play: Kirk ran the same route he did earlier in the game, which also left him open. Rosen was pressured too quickly the first time, but had a clean pocket on this play and delivered a strike. Kirk absorbed a big hit in the back of the end zone and held on to the ball for the game’s deciding points.

The aftermath: The score and subsequent two-point conversion gave the Cardinals an 18-15 lead, and the defense held for the team’s lone home victory of 2018. It was the first fourth-quarter comeback and game-winning drive of Rosen’s career.

3. Rosen’s Long Bomb To Kirk

The situation: The Cardinals’ Week 5 game in San Francisco didn’t start well, as the defense allowed the 49ers to score on their opening drive for a 6-0 lead. The offense started at its 25 hoping to respond, and did it ever.

The play: On the first offensive play from scrimmage, Rosen dropped back after a play-action fake and settled into a clean pocket. Kirk separated from cornerback Ahkello Witherspoon with a double move and Rosen hit him in stride. Kirk used a stiff-arm near the goal-line to finish off a 75-yard touchdown, the longest play from scrimmage of the season.

The aftermath: The Cardinals’ offense went mostly dormant the rest of the way, but the defense picked it up with five takeaways. The Cardinals secured their first victory of the year, 28-18.

2. Larry Fitzgerald’s Touchdown Pass To David Johnson

The situation: The Cardinals fell behind the Rams, 14-3, in Week 16 and pulled out a gadget play in hopes of catching Los Angeles off guard. It came on a first-and-10 from the Rams’ 32 with 9:47 left in the second quarter, and couldn’t have worked out any better.

The play: Rosen threw a lateral to Fitzgerald, who settled into a makeshift pocket behind the line of scrimmage. Johnson feigned a block and then sprinted to an open area down the field. Fitzgerald’s pass was a little wobbly but hit Johnson in stride for a 32-yard touchdown, cutting the deficit to 14-9.

The aftermath: Fitzgerald has a long list of signature catches during his illustrious career, but this was only his second career completion and first touchdown pass. The Cardinals lost the game, 31-9, but if it happens to be Fitzgerald’s final home game, he went out in memorable fashion.

1. Rosen’s Third-Down Miracle To Fitzgerald

The situation: The Cardinals played well in Green Bay through three-and-a-half quarters, but faced a third-and-23 deep in their own territory with 4:35 remaining in a tie game. A punt on fourth down seemed inevitable, which would have given Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers the ball in good field position.

The play: Rodgers didn’t see the ball for awhile because the Cardinals converted an improbable first down. Rosen was flushed from the pocket and Fitzgerald went into scramble-drill mode, finding an open area. Rosen threaded the needle past safety Eddie Pleasant’s coverage and Fitzgerald made a diving catch for a 32-yard gain.

The aftermath: The Cardinals continued churning out yards on the drive, eventually getting into field goal range for kicker Zane Gonzalez, who nailed a 44-yard boot for a 20-17 lead. Green Bay kicker Mason Crosby missed from 49 at the buzzer to give the Cardinals their most unlikely victory of the season.