It was a first half of football to forget for Kyler Murray and the Cardinals.
Arizona came out of the first quarter of its wild-card matchup against the Rams trailing 7-0 with negative yards, and things took a turn for the worse in the second quarter. The worst part: Instead of taking a deep in the end zone with his team already down 14-0, Murray threw the ball to try to avoid the sack but ended up throwing a pick-six.
The next drive, Rondale Moore saved Murray from a second interception in a rare exchange with a defender, only for Murray to respond with another interception on a screen pass three plays later. The Cardinals entered halftime trailing 21-0 and then fell 28-0 early in the third quarter.
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The first quarter was bad enough for the Cardinals. Arizona went 3-and-out on its first drive, moving just 4 yards, and the next two drives went back: minus 1 yard and minus 11 yards. The Cardinals finished the quarter with minus-8 yards of offense.
It only got worse from there. After another 3-and-out on their first drive in the second quarter, the Cardinals got the ball back at their 1-yard line after John Hekker’s 43-yard punt. James Conner rushed for 3 yards, and then Murray appeared to connect with AJ Green for a 22-yard gain, but after conflicting video reviews, the pass was ruled incomplete.
On the third down, Murray was nearly sacked in the end zone by linebacker Troy Reeder, prompting him to try to pass the ball to Moore. Instead, David Long swooped in to intercept the pass and return it for a 3-yard pick-six. According to Stathead , was the shortest pick-six in the Super Bowl era in the playoffs.
Neither Peyton nor Eli Manning could believe the play.
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The Cardinals finally got their first first down on the next drive, when Conner rushed for 11 yards. Two plays later, Murray threw to Moore, who passed the ball to Long. Before Long could secure the ball, Moore caught the carom for a catch.
Arizona got to the 50-yard line for the first time in the game on a 10-yard run by Chase Edmonds, but fell back on the next play. Murray then threw the ball past 50 for the first time in the game, only for Marquise Copeland to intercept the screen pass after it deflected off Conner’s fingertips.
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For Arizona fans looking for a ray of hope in the second half, well, there wasn’t much. Murray had just 28 yards on 7-of-17 passes in the first half, getting sacked twice and intercepted twice. Arizona only had three first downs against Los Angeles’ nine at the half. The Cardinals owned the ball for just 10:45.
Needless to say, the first playoff game in the Murray-Kliff Kingsbury era did not go as planned.
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.