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Miracle Ending: Missed Field Goal Allows Cardinals To Beat Vikings

Kyler Murray accounts for four touchdowns in improbable 34-33 win

Safety Budda Baker (3) and teammates celebrate the Vikings' missed field goal on the final play of Sunday's 34-33 win.
Safety Budda Baker (3) and teammates celebrate the Vikings' missed field goal on the final play of Sunday's 34-33 win.

Mistakes were easy to find, and the quarterback didn't necessarily look like a guy ready to embrace happiness after Sunday's game at State Farm Stadium.

Vikings kicker Greg Joseph had pushed a 37-yard field goal wide right on the final play, closing out a crazy 34-33 win for the Cardinals in their home opener, and sure, it was a game the Cards easily could have lost.

But they did not. They have won their first two games, and there were still plenty of smiles to be found afterward.

"I think the whole motto has been 'finish,' " tight end Maxx Williams said. "Obviously it wasn't pretty, but we won.

"Doesn't matter how we do it – that's a win. Cardinals are 2-and-oh. Go back to work, clean up our problems, and … go forward with it. Doesn't matter how we did it. We won."

QB Kyler Murray does care about how it was done. He acknowledged afterward the veterans all were emphasizing to him that it is difficult to win in the NFL, and on some level, Murray knows that. But he was irritated too, after two interceptions in the second half led to 10 Vikings points (and cost the Cards at least three), and that the Cardinals (2-0) were not able to run out the clock after getting the ball back with 2:30 left nursing the one-point lead.

"You know me, I'm definitely frustrated," Murray said. "You take the good with the bad. We have to go back to work. But enjoy the win."

Kicker Matt Prater had booted a 27-yard field goal with 4:25 left in the game. Even that drive – kept alive by a fantastic off-the-back-foot 35-yard bomb on fourth down against a Cover Zero blitz – could've produced a touchdown but did not.

The Cards forced a punt, but then Murray ran out of bounds after a four-yard run and was sacked on second down, eventually meaning the Vikings were going to get the ball back with more than two minutes left.

"I was a disappointing drive, a chance for us to finish the game on our terms," Murray said. "We failed in that situation."

It was enough to get Joseph into range. The Vikings kicker – who also missed an extra point earlier in the game – simply knocked it wide.

It salvaged a hard roller-coaster of a performance. Linebacker Jordan Hicks made a big third-down pass breakup to force the final Minnesota punt, but then the Cardinals' defense couldn't slow the Vikings before Joseph got his chance.

"(The first) was a great stop, but the second drive sucked," Hicks said.

Coach Kliff Kingsbury acknowledged the Cardinals came out flat, particularly on defense. Vikings running back Dalvin Cook had 96 yards rushing in the first half alone (he finished with 131) after the Cards had held Derrick Henry to 58 the week before. Quarterback Kirk Cousins had three touchdown passes and no interceptions, and was sacked only once.

But the defense allowed only three points in the second half.

Murray had his mistakes on the interceptions, but he was spectacular much of the day (400 yards and three touchdowns passing, and a rushing TD).

The first score was another improv special between he and DeAndre Hopkins, who was able to get away from Patrick Peterson in coverage – "I just wish I would've had one play back," Peterson said – and then another scramble bought enough time to find a wide-open Rondale Moore for a 77-yard touchdown.

Moore finished with 114 yards on seven catches, and Williams also had a career-high 94 yards on seven catches. Meanwhile, Prater kicked a 62-yard field goal on the final play of the first half to set a record for the longest in franchise history.

"We lost the turnover margin, threw one pick going in, throw a pick six and then roughed the punter on the fourth down and that extends the drive, and still find a way to win," Kingsbury said. "That's hard to do in this league. So, I was proud of their fight. We've got a lot we've got to clean up. It wasn't nearly good enough, but they fought hard."

The thing was, it was good enough. The Cardinals would rather not do it like that every game, but it was a victory after all.

"I didn't look back, I looked at the screen (at the other end) and couldn't even tell if it missed or not," Hicks said of the final play. "I saw J.J. (Watt), going like (it's not good), and I locked eyes with Zeke (Turner), who was lying on his back. He was in absolute shock.

"It's not necessarily the best win, right? Last week was a dominant win and that's what you want every week, but it's not going to be that way. It's the NFL. But we skated out of one."