Kyler Murray's feet deserve credit for Arizona Cardinals' comeback, too

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Kyler Murray did more than throw a Hail Mary on Sunday.

Yes, the Arizona Cardinals got a wild 32-30 win over the Buffalo Bills at State Farm Stadium when Murray used his elusive feet to buy time for a 43-yard pass to receiver DeAndre Hopkins with two seconds left.

But that wasn't the only spectacular play by Murray, who scored two rushing touchdowns to bring the Cardinals back from a 23-9 third-quarter deficit. Making plays on the run is something he's been doing all season. The second-year quarterback has needed just nine games to establish himself as one of the most dangerous rushing QBs of the past half decade.

The last quarterback to have 10 rushing touchdowns in a season was Cam Newton in 2015, when he finished with 10. In 2011, Newton had 14 and Murray is on pace to beat that mark.

Murray is just the second quarterback in NFL history to have at least 10 rushing touchdowns in the first 10 games of a season. Johnny Lujack had 10 in his first 10 games in 1950 and Murray still has a game to surpass him.

It's one of several rushing touchdown superlatives for Murray so far this season:

  • Sunday was Murray's eighth game this season with a rushing and passing touchdown, tying him with Steve Grogan in 1976, Daunte Culpepper in 2002 and Cam Newton in 2011 for the single-season record.

  • Murray's eight rushing touchdowns on zone reads since the start of 2019 leads all NFL QBs in that span.

  • Murray became the fourth quarterback in NFL history with a rushing touchdown in at least five consecutive games. Sunday was his fifth straight.

Murray rushed for 61 yards Sunday, giving him 604 yards on the season.

Coach Kliff Kingsbury said getting Murray more involved in the rushing game was "an emphasis this year."

"Kyler is one of the most dynamic runners in the NFL," Kingsbury said. "And you want him to be smart because he's not a huge guy. So we got to be smart when we use him and we can't lean on him, 30 carries a game, do anything of that nature. But when he gets a chance in open space to carry it, I mean he's phenomenal and he's hard to get down."

The Cardinals struggled to convert in the red zone Sunday afternoon, leading to a field goal fest for the first two-and-a-half quarters. But then Murray found the end zone with 5:48 left in the third quarter on a 1-yard run to pull Arizona within 23-16.

He displayed more of his rushing brilliance in the final seconds of the third quarter, when he took off for 28 yards following a Patrick Peterson interception, moving the Cardinals from their own territory deep into the Bills'. Three plays later, Murray ran in for his second touchdown, this one from the 15, pulling the Cardinals into the lead for the first time Sunday.

When the passing game hasn't worked to get the Cardinals touchdowns, Murray's ground game has. But it's been more than that this season: He's rushing for touchdowns that his running backs aren't.

Murray's 10 rushing touchdowns are twice as many as all the other Cardinals' rushing touchdowns, which comprise four from Kenyan Drake and one from Chase Edmonds. And Murray has just 8 fewer yards than the Cardinals' leading rusher, Drake.

But Murray tried to downplay the idea that he's carrying the Cardinals' rushing game.

"It's not a situation where I'm being asked to run the ball," Murray said. "Again, those are run plays and I have a read. If they give me that read, it's my job to carry the ball. We're not just calling designed run play for me. Certain situations, we may but, nah, I'm not carrying this team by any stretch."

Yet, in Murray, Arizona has one of the most dazzling and talented runners under center that football has seen in recent memory.

"You see a guy like that scrambling around, making plays with his feet, running for the first down, taking hits and doing things that are uncommon from a quarterback," wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins said. "Kyler's play motivates everyone on that football field. He gives us a spark that I've never been a part of. And I'm just happy to be his teammate."

Said Kingsbury: "He's playing at a ridiculous level right now. And y'all have seen it the last few weeks after that first month offensively, we really settled in and mixing in tempo and he's taking care of the ball, making great decisions, whether it's with his feet, with his arm.

"It's fun to watch; I mean he's making us right on a lot of plays."