Quarterback engineers amazing TD conversion that spurred comeback over RaidersDarren Urban
Zach Ertz roamed back and forth in the end zone for the play that officially lasted just short of 21 seconds but seemed like an eternity.
"At that point you're just trying to find some open grass," the tight end said. "I think they were in Drop 8, so there were so many bodies on defense, it almost felt like we were doing conditioning out there, trying to get open for him to make a play."
The Cardinals were going for a two-point conversion that, truth be told, likely meant the difference between having a small chance to win in Las Vegas on Sunday or having none at all.
Kyler Murray sat back. Did a little scrambling and waiting, before completing a most remarkable two-point score that became a microcosm of the Cardinals' improbable 29-23 overtime win.
Like the Hail Murray of 2020, Kyler's unique skillset rocketed him across social media and the highlight shows, him running about 85 yards total (according to Next Gen Stats) to cover, what in the end, was officially a two-yard rush for two crucial points.
"It's not how we drew it up," coach Kliff Kingsbury acknowledged on Monday. "I'll say that. But when you have a guy like that you want to give him options and you talk about if it's not there, make a play.
"It's tough sledding down there when you are on the 2 and everyone is packed in and they know you gotta throw it. It was a heck of an individual effort but guys continued to move, the line continued to block."
The Cardinals ran so many plays by the end of the game inside the 5 - including the first two-point conversion but not the second, which was from the 7 after a delay-of-game penalty -- that Kingsbury admitted he all but ran out of options on his playsheet.
But the first two-pointer featured an unbalanced formation, with Murray by himself in the backfield in shotgun. Ertz stood just to the left of left tackle D.J. Humphries. Wide receiver Hollywood Brown was a step back of the line just to the right of right tackle Kelvin Beachum, with tight end Stephen Anderson on the line to Brown's right.
Wide receiver A.J. Green was in the slot right, and running back Darrel Williams was the outside "receiver."
Not that any of it mattered by the end, as the seconds ticked and Murray held the ball, waiting for his chance.
"It was pretty long," Murray said. "I want to say that they dropped nine and had two people rushing. I knew that they weren't going to be able to tackle me. It was just about hopefully backyard football at that point, trying to find somebody, move, get open, make a play. I told the guys in the huddle, 'We gotta get this.' At that point we were down 16, I believe. If we don't get the two-point conversion, the game is pretty much looking tough for us."
The Raiders did rush three, dropping the other eight into zone coverage in the end zone. Defensive tackle Johnathan Hankins was double-teamed at the snap and then showed little interest in trying to track down the elusive Murray, becoming more of a spy - one that had little chance of getting Murray, even at an angle.
Murray dodged defensive tackles Kendal Vickers and Andrew Billings easily during the play. At one point, Green put up his hand in the back of the end zone, but Murray didn't see him and besides, he wasn't really open.
And the seconds kept ticking.
"We're just trying to wall off the defensive line so they don't make a play," guard Justin Pugh said. "That's Kyler being Kyler. I've seen it for four years now. He makes magical plays happen."
The line never needed to hold - you can see them literally trying only to wall for Murray and not use their arms as the play goes back and forth. There was no reason to worry about an illegal man downfield - at the 2-yard line it was unnecessary, and as the play developed, Murray moved the "line of scrimmage" so far back it was moot.
At one point, Murray had faded all the way back to the 20, standing there unmolested, searching for a target.
By the end, Murray scooted past his blockers and the rushers around the right hashmark at the 10 and made a beeline for the pylon on the left sideline. One of the players who had no chance at the angle was former teammate Chandler Jones.
Only cornerback Nate Hobbs came close to getting to Murray but it wasn't that close.
"We had to have it," Kingsbury said. "It was on one of those situations, and when you are a guy who can do that and make people miss and find a way to get in it's exciting for the whole team At that point momentum had shifted and it was about finding a way to get it done."
The lead was then only eight points, and for a team that looked dead into the third quarter, they had life that ended with an exhilarating victory - all spurred by the longest play that actually took no time off the clock.
"Kyler pretty much willed us to victory in the second half," Ertz said. "It was incredible to watch. I'm not surprised about it, but it was great to see."