Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray made the decision to reenter Sunday's 18-7 loss to the Los Angeles Rams early in the fourth quarter after missing almost 43 minutes of game time. He gave Arizona a spark, but that quickly fizzled as the Cardinals' missed the playoffs for the fifth straight season.
"I wish I could have came back earlier to try to make an impact quicker," Murray said. "I wasn't gonna go in if I could avoid anything or if I was hurting myself or hurting the team by going in because I couldn't move, so I had to let some things kick in. And then once I did, that's when I decided to go in."
After Murray suffered a "pretty significant" injury to his right ankle at the 12:14 mark of the first quarter on a sack by Rams defensive lineman Morgan Fox, rarely used backup Chris Streveler took over at quarterback and remained there until Murray reentered at the 14:24 mark of the fourth quarter, right after the Rams kicked a field goal to go up 18-7.
His first four passes after being out went for 60 yards and moved the Cardinals to the Rams' 19, but the drive stalled after Murray's injury was evident on a run and a sack for negative-12 yards. Kicker Mike Nugent's 37-yard field goal was blocked and the Cardinals never had another shot at scoring.
"Obviously, I mean, I wasn't 100 percent but at that point in the game, it really didn't matter," Murray said.
Murray said he landed "in an awkward position" when he suffered the injury. Replays showed Fox's knee digging into Murray's ankle.
"It's unfortunate and the game, obviously, plays out a lot differently I feel like," he said. "But it is what it is. That's the hand we got dealt."
Murray got up limping and went straight to the locker room. He returned to the field, tried to walk off the injury and was evaluated in the blue injury tent but walked back to the locker room. He returned to the sideline, had his left ankle retaped and tried to warm up but wasn't comfortable enough to take the field until the fourth quarter. Murray spent time in and out of the locker room throughout the first half and early in the third quarter.
Coach Kliff Kingsbury, who described the injury as "pretty significant," said Murray wasn't able to push off of it. The decision for Murray to go back in "ultimately" was Murray's, Kingsbury said.
"We made sure that he was in a place where we didn't feel like he could injure himself further," Kingsbury said. "It started feeling better and so he wanted to go and give it a try."
Streveler threw a touchdown pass to running back Jonathan Ward on his first drive to give the Cardinals a 7-0 lead. He finished with 106 passing yards, a touchdown and an interception on 11-for-16 throwing along with 12 rushing yards on three carries. Those were the Cardinals' only points, as they had just 55 yards in the first half, which ended with Arizona down 12-7.
Kingsbury said the injury that Murray suffered Sunday was not the same "lower leg" injury that Murray suffered in last week's loss to the San Francisco 49ers, and said this week he was "feeling good."
Kingsbury praised Murray for his toughness Sunday.
"You saw when he got back in, the spark he gave us and we were able to move the ball some," Kingsbury said. "Obviously, we weren't able to finish like we needed to but I was really proud of him. That's gutty, especially a guy who uses his legs like he does."