Right where it needed to be pic.twitter.com/7EVUMDDqwB— Arizona Cardinals (@AZCardinals) October 24, 2021
Kyler Murray completed a handful of outstanding throws during the Cardinals’ 31-5 victory over the Texas. In terms of the degree of difficulty (22% completion probability), this 41 yard “hole shot” to A.J. Green on 3rd and 23 might well have been Murray’s most outstanding throw of the game.
First and foremost, this 41 yard completion does not happen if Kyler Murray is not afforded excellent protection up front, The Texans’ DC Lovie Smith dialed up a 3 man rush, 5 man under, 3 man deep zone, figuring that the Cardinals would throw underneath the 5 man under and, with a good tackle, the Texans might be able to keep the Cardinals out of field goal range. Notice, how wide open Chase Edmonds and Rondale Moore are in front of the 5 man under zone. That is by design. The Texans want Kyler Murray to check down to Edmonds or Moore like he did on a previous third and long where Moore was only able to garner a short gain.
D.J. Humphries stonewalled his edge rusher. Justin Pugh and Max Garcia did the same with the nose tackle. Josh Jones is left free to help safeguard the middle, while Kelvin Beachum is set up in a perfect fan block technique on his edge, where the edge rusher is playing contain on Kyler Murray and does not want to overcommit himself on the rush.
Kyler Murray was able to step up cleanly into the pocket in order to deliver a 48 yard laser into the hole between the deep safety and the underneath cornerback. This is a pass that only a few quarterbacks on the planet can make because of the arm strength and accuracy required in order to fit the pass into the S/CB hole 48 yards downfield. It is a pass that a quarterback can not put too much air on, because it needs to arrive at the receiver’s hands in approximately two seconds. If you scroll back up to the photo of A.J. Green’s catch, you can see precisely where the pass was delivered —- between the 1 and 8 on Green’s jersey.
A.J. Green ran his route to perfection. He galloped up the sidelines in a hurry, but then he slowed down to make sure he stayed in the middle of the hole, equidistant from the safety and cornerback.
It also should be noted that Christian Kirk and DeAndre Hopkins did a superb job of occupying the attention of the deep safeties, as Kirk ran a deep post and Hopkins ran a deep crossing pattern. This caught the attention of the deep safety to A.J. Green’s side, enough to keep him a little to far from Green to make a play on the pass. Of course, most NFL safeties don’t think that a quarterback can zing the ball into a slot 48 yards away as quickly as Kyler Murray did.
Two plays later, this play sealed the TD drive:
Cardinals 14 Texans 5, with 2:45 left in the 1st half.