Larry Fitzgerald wasn't the only Cardinal to make a heads-up-beyond-the-box-score play against the 49ers. Kenyan Drake did too, and it came with a marvelous backstory that the running back explained Friday.
The play in question was a scintillating 25-yard scramble by quarterback Kyler Murray on third-and-17 that netted a first down, in part because Drake, down the field, managed to avoid a blindside block penalty near the end of the play by whirling around and showing his back to the defenders rather than colliding with them in front.
The play before, Drake was flagged for a false start, knowing he was supposed to chip edge rusher Nick Bosa. Bosa noticed, saying something to Drake about being in too much of a hurry to come get him.
"I was like, 'Yeah, because I was going to put it on you,' " Drake said. "I guess he took offense to that."
The Cards ran the same play again and – as a check of the game video does show -- an irritated Bosa makes a beeline to Drake, standing in the slot, rather than trying to make an immediate move on left tackle D.J. Humphries, slowing Bosa's rush. As Drake released in his route, Murray started to scramble looking for a receiver. Drake took off down the field on the scramble drill, and Murray decided to run.
"I turned around to try and find a block," Drake said. "We had talked about in camp they had really made an emphasis of blocking back toward our own line of scrimmage, a personal foul-type of penalty. So at that moment I turned my back just to create a wall for Kyler."
After the play, sometime in the next break, the official found Drake on the sideline.
"(He) said, '41, that was a great play, it's going on our teaching tape for this season,' " Drake said. "That's pretty cool. I've never had a ref come and congratulate me on a play in the middle of a game."
The Cardinals' football IQ keeps showing up. That's a good thing.
-- I just want to say my condolences to Larry Wilson's wife, Nancy, and their family after Larry Wilson died Thursday night. Wilson was a Hall of Fame football player and NFL legend. But he was a good man, something that was easy to see when you were around him. I remember traveling back from Canton after Aeneas Williams' Hall of Fame induction in a group that included he and Nancy, and they couldn't have been more gracious. His death impacts the Bidwill family and a few other long-time Cardinals employees that knew him well. Rest in peace.
-- Here we are, in the Cardinals' home opener. It'll be different with no fans. In fact, with no fans, is it really that much different than the game last week in San Francisco with no fans? Murray said yes.
"It's our turf, you know," Murray said. "I feel like you ask anybody that, they want to protect their home field. We're not traveling this week, so we get to rest up a little bit more, but I think it does matter in a way."
-- Speaking of home games, there will be no fans for the first two for sure. What happens Oct. 25 against the Seahawks? We'll see (but mask up when you go out in the meantime to help the state and aid in the possibility of fans at football games.)
If you were thinking about trying to enjoy the game as a State Farm Stadium satellite and tailgate in the parking lot or the Great Lawn Sunday, don't. Those areas will not be open to the public, so please don't come out. Trust me, the players are all anxious to have fans again, but gotta be smart about this.
-- There was so much talk about how the lack of preseason games and, as Vance Joseph called it this week, a "COVID training camp," might impact rust and the number of penalties committed. And while the Cardinals were not happy with their total penalties Sunday, one thing was obvious in the NFL – offensive holding wasn't being called.
According to ESPN, offensive holding in Week One was its lowest total in the last 20 seasons, with only 18 flags. That's a drop of 78 percent from Week One last year. The Cardinals were flagged for offensive holding twice, the 49ers not at all.
"I expect the number to increase," Kliff Kingsbury said. "I think the officials definitely wanted to make sure we were allowed to play. Fans didn't want to tune in and see 30 flags on the field. As the games go on they'll expect the level of play to improve and I'm sure they'll definitely be calling it closer."
-- I remember back in the offseason before the 2015 season – when the Cardinals had a temporary locker room in the practice bubble while the main locker room was being remodeled – and heading in there to talk to quarterback Logan Thomas about his struggles as a rookie and whether he'd ever consider playing tight end. He wasn't thrilled about the question, although he was polite in his answer that he wanted to play quarterback. Thomas is in his seventh NFL season now, having morphed into a tight end in the middle of 2016. He never did play QB in a regular-season game for anyone but Arizona. He's now playing for Washington and had four catches for 39 yards and a touchdown last week.
-- Wide receiver Hakeem Butler finally found a landing spot, having been signed to the Panthers' practice squad this week. I guess that means there is an outside chance Butler could play when the Cardinals are in Carolina in a couple of weeks. I would doubt it, but we will see.
-- I think Lamont Gaillard can make it work at center with Mason Cole out. But I am interested to see how the absence of tight end Maxx Williams impacts the offense.
-- I found it interesting that The Athletic did a story asking coaches and evaluators across the league who the best cornerbacks in the NFL are right now. Patrick Peterson, even after his up-and-down 2019, was third-best in the league, behind the Rams' Jalen Ramsey and Defensive Player of the Year Stephon Gilmore of the Patriots.
"There has been a drop-off in his play, but you have to understand what happened to him," an evaluator said. "He had the suspension and it took him a while to get going again, and by the time he was rolling, it was past the trade deadline. He is someone you can ask to travel with the No. 1 wideout. Not every team asks that of its corners."
(Richard Sherman, by the way, was 12th, and one coordinator suggested Sherman should be moved to safety at this point in his career.)
-- The WFT has a very good pass rush. Their secondary is not as good. The Cards have to find a way to make that work.
-- If DeAndre Hopkins gets six catches, he'll have 20 in his first two games as a Cardinal, which would be an NFL record for most catches in the first two games for a player in his first year with a team. I'm not betting against it.
-- Quietly, Corey Peters just is the anchor of that defense. In the locker room after the 49ers win, Joseph said Peters made sure everyone knew the defense had to play better even though they did make improvements from last season. On the field, ESPN's new "run-stuff" rating had Peters as a top-10 player in the NFL in Week One.
-- I have long been impressed with how Chandler Jones played in 2017 after getting a mega-extension with the Cardinals. Sometimes, those big deals can skew how a player approaches the game. It's only one game in, but D-Hop gets the extension, safety Budda Baker gets the extension and what happens? Nuk goes for 14-151 and Baker has a career-best 15 tackles and looked like a guided missile out there. Just sayin'.
See you Sunday.