The play broke down and yet the Cardinals still scored a touchdown. That in itself was an excellent result. But on the Kyler Murray-throwback-to-David Johnson score Sunday against the Panthers, it was the pieces of the play that might've been greater -- long-term -- than the sum of the parts.
Murray had about five things he could've done as he rolled right on the first-and-goal play from the Carolina 3. He could've tried to run the ball -- although he was likely correct that he wasn't going to make the edge with the Panthers having a linebacker spying him as he rolled out. He could've thrown it away. He could've tried to force a pass backside to rookie wideout KeeSean Johnson, although that window closed pretty quick. Fitz was never open.
Instead, Murray had the presence of mind to turn 90 degrees and throw a strike to David Johnson all the way back across the width of the field, with few defenders. It can be a potentially dangerous pass -- there is always a possibility a defender decided to lay in wait, and a pick there is probably going the other way for a score -- but Murray seemed to understand the numbers and rifled the pass to Johnson, who originally was just there to help block on the play.
It was great awareness from a rookie QB in his third game.
But perhaps it was Johnson, a guy under scrutiny coming into the game, who made the play pay off in the best way. He was ready for the pass to come even if it hadn't been designed that way. He made a great move to sidestep oncoming Panthers cornerback Donte Jackson, who could've had Johnson for a 7-yard loss. And while Johnson might've been able to use his speed to make the pylon on the left corner (watching the video, it looks like he has the room), Johnson instead turned it upfield and did some of that power football running for which everyone has been waiting. Johnson said last week there is a time and place for that, and he rightfully found his time and place.
Johnson's numbers weren't great against the Panthers, but I think he played a pretty good game. This play was a microcosm why, and examples from two key players that the Cardinals need to succeed.