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Kliff Kingsbury Stays Aggressive On Fourth Down

Cardinals converted from their own 27 against Washington

Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Christian Kirk during a regular season game against the Washington Football Team on Sunday, September 20, 2020.
Wide receiver Christian Kirk easily picked up the first down on fourth-and-1 from the Arizona 27 in the third quarter on Sunday.

If there was a crowd in State Farm Stadium, a murmur would have run through it early in the third quarter of Sunday's 30-15 win over Washington.

That's when coach Kliff KIngbsury decided to go for it on fourth-and-1 from his own 27 with a 20-0 lead.

The Cardinals converted using a tricky short yardage play, as backup quarterback Chris Streveler took the snap, faked a handoff and pitched the ball to Christian Kirk on an end-around for a three-yard gain.

Kingsbury, who didn't convert in a similar situation last season against the Saints, explained his thought-process on the unconventional decision.

"A lot of things go into that," Kingsbury said. "Statistically, it is a positive play there. Great look for the play, when you look at the defense on film. Trusting your players when they come to the sideline saying, 'Hey, we can get that.' There's a lot of things that go into it, but we want to be aggressive and continue to evolve as an offense. We felt like that was the play at that time."

While most coaches would have punted in that situation, fourth down aggressiveness continues to increase leaguewide because statistical evidence proves that the reward of converting in short-yardage situations often outweighs the risk of turning the ball over on downs.

Kingsbury has been among those at the forefront since Week 5 of 2019, and with a better offense this season, figures to push the envelope.

He also went for it on fourth-and-5 from the Washington 37 later in the game, converting when Kyler Murray found Larry Fitzgerald on a 12-yard completion. The drive ended in a touchdown.

The Cardinals are now 15-of-22 on fourth down conversion attempts under Kingsbury.

"It says a lot about his aggressiveness and how much he can depend on us to get one yard," wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins said of the fourth-and-1 call. "We definitely have certain plays that we practice, and we prepare that way, to go for it. Kliff called the perfect play. The defense wasn't expecting that."